How to do well in your online studies
The first trimester of Uni is about to start and every new online student is overwhelmed, thinking: what if I made a mistake? What if there's too much work and I can't keep up? What if life gets in the way?
All those interrogations are legitimate. Most online students are whether geographically far from campus, working one or several jobs, caring for young children, or mature-aged students who want to find a new career; and most of them having a tight schedule are wondering how the hell they're going to sustain their already busy life and do well for their degree.
So, I thought I would give the newbies a few tips, as last term I was a new online student at Deakin University.
1. Preparation is paramount
You don't arrive for your first day on Campus without having researched your subjects/units, your timetable, and the prescribed textbooks. Well, it's the same online. Make the most of Orientation Week, if there's one.
- Navigate through the online platform to get used to it.
- Enrol into the seminars/classes.
- Gather the Unit Chairs and Tutors' emails.
- Introduce yourself in the discussion boards.
- Ask questions.
- Source your books.
- Write down your assessments' due dates.
Some units will already have put some of the material online. Get familiar with it, and if you have time, start studying.
You're an online student, no one will be behind your back to tell you to study nor to focus on that lecture which might be a little bit less interesting than the other ones. It's time to become accountable for yourself and to set weekly goals:
- Read the recommended readings.
- Watch/listen to the weekly lectures.
- Do the weekly exercises.
- Participate to the discussions whether they're on the discussions boards or video sessions with a tutor and your peers.
- Do not procrastinate, or you'll end up with a great deal of stress at the end of the term.
- Start you assignments as soon as you get the guidelines. Don't wait until the last minute, it will show.
Studying online can be very lonely sometimes:
- Get out and have some fresh air.
- Take some time off if you become too overwhelmed. Meet with friends. Go to the movies.
- Exercise. Your body needs to move. Sitting on a chair for hours is taxing, stretch often, and sign up for a physical activity which will boost your endorphin levels.
- One or two cups of coffee or tea are enough. Being over caffeinated won't help in the long term.
- Get enough sleep.
Extra tips which will make a difference
- Stay on the top of your studies. Last term I did as much as I could during Orientation Week, which helped me stay serene during the first few weeks. I was always ahead, so when I ended up with a bad flu, I didn't have to worry about falling behind.
- Ask for help. It can take some time to adapt to your new routine, it's normal. If you're struggling or don't understand something, don't hesitate to contact your tutors; they're here to help you succeed. You can also contact the students association and they can help you navigate through the first year.
- Finish your assignments at least two days before the due date. You need to have enough time to get your Turnitin report before submission, which could take 24 hours. Submit your assignment early, just in case your internet is down (storms, maintenance, etc...) on the due date.
I hope those tips will help and set you for a successful year.
Good luck in your studies.