You’ve finally decided you’re ready to go to college—congrats! The toughest decision is behind you, but there’s still some work ahead of you. Now you need to figure out how to prepare for college and what type of classes are best for you.
It’s important to find a program and modality that will compliment your lifestyle. If you’re looking for a flexible option that accommodates a busy schedule, online courses may be the perfect choice. But learning online comes with its own set of obstacles, so you need to make sure you’re up for the challenge.
There are a few signs that suggest you’re ready to become an online student. We enlisted Jennifer Stoker, learning services coordinator for Rasmussen College's School of Business, to help us identify a few common qualities she sees in successful online students. Take a look at the list below to see if you see these signs in your own life.
You’re ready to be an online student if …
1. You have excellent time management & organizational skills
You love to plan your schedule and stick to it! Many distractions can arise when listening to a lecture or completing exams outside of the traditional classroom. You’ll need to be diligent about when assignments are due and setting aside ample time to complete them.
“It’s important to set a plan at the beginning of the quarter and be sure to include set study times so they don’t get away from you,” Stoker advises. She suggests using the calendar on your phone or computer to stay on top of assignments.
2. You have a strong sense of independence
You’ll have to rely on yourself in many situations as an online student. It’s important to be an independent learner and be able to hold yourself accountable to get your work done on time. You will be responsible for doing a lot of the work on your own time, unlike being in class with the ability to raise your hand.
Being able to independently seek out answers is another important skill. You’ll still have the ability to reach out to instructors when needed, but many questions can be avoided with a little personal detective work. You’ll also have access to online discussion forums to lean on classmates for help.
Stoker says that online support center at Rasmussen College provides a lot of additional support to online students, helping them get acclimated to their online environment.
3. You enjoy virtual interaction with others
Some people value face-to-face interactions with others, but not you! You consistently communicate and connect with friends and family via email or social media. Building and nurturing relationships online doesn’t bother you.
This is another sign you’ll be a successful online student, because all of your interaction will be done electronically. But there are still plenty of opportunities to connect with classmates and instructors. Many online courses incorporate live lectures and discussions so students are still able to develop relationships throughout the program.
4. You’re not intimidated by technology
Social networking isn’t the only thing for which you rely on technology. From waking up in the morning and checking the weather to researching your next big purchase and streaming your favorite TV shows, your gadgets make your life easier.
It’s important to be comfortable with technology as an online student because that is your main source of education. Tuning in to live lectures, completing interactive learning activities, participating in discussion forums, emailing your instructors and checking assignment deadlines will all be done online. For this reason, Stoker says it’s imperative to have consistent access to a computer if you plan to take online classes.
5. You’re comfortable in a self-learning environment
You’ve always had the ability to figure things out on your own. Whether it was tinkering with toys as a child or trying out new recipes as an adult, you’re just fine without strict direction. This quality will come in handy as an online student.
There will be times that you’ll have to teach yourself material through reading or other activities. This isn’t to say you’ll be left stranded if there’s something you don’t understand, but you’ll definitely expected to attempt to figure it out on your own first.
If you do run into a dead end, Stoker says there are many people and resources in place to assist you. Connecting with other students, utilizing online resources provided by your school or getting in touch with your student advisor are all possible solutions.
6. You value flexibility
Between your job, your family and your social life, you’re busy enough as it is. One of the reasons online classes appeal to you is the fact that you can choose when and where you study. So whether you’re a go-getter or a procrastinator, a night owl or an early bird, you can complete the courses on your own terms.
Keep in mind there will be instances in which you’ll be required to tune in to live lectures at a specific time or work on a group project that will require coordination of schedules. But for the most part, you’ll be able to fit your education into your hectic life.
7. You’re self-reliant and self-motivated
When you need something done, you usually do it yourself. You’ve always been driven to do your best without anyone having to push you. This determination will translate perfectly to life as an online student. Without anyone around to remind you of assignment and encourage you to work hard, you’ll have to count on yourself.
“It’s important to keep the end goal in mind,” Stoker says. “If you’re coming to school to earn a degree, you have to put in the work and effort to graduate.” There’s a lot expected of online students but in her experience, students who are motivated and dedicated will succeed.
Do you have what it takes?
Now you know what goes into being a successful online student. Do these statements above apply to you? Then you’re ready to learn more about enrolling in an online program!
If you’re still hesitant or want more information about how to prepare for college, check out this behind-the-scenes look at online courses.