20 Tips for Online Study Success

So you’ve taken the big step toward your educational goals and signed up for online classes with Athabasca University.  Congratulations! Simply getting started is the first step toward achieving your aspirations.  But times have changed, and online learning is different than being in a classroom with a professor and fellow students.

Although there are numerous benefits to studying online, from the option to study whenever it suits your schedule to rolling out of bed and studying in your PJs, take time to uncover more about self-learning.

  1. This guide on the AU site is handy to help you ask yourself important questions before you begin: https://news.athabascau.ca/top-5-things-to-ask-yourself-before-taking-an-online-course/ .
  2. Yes, you have flexibility in when and where you study; you also run the risk of constant distraction from other things, like going out with friends or cleaning up your house. Set up a weekly school schedule and stick to it.
  3. New students may be under the impression that online learning is easier than learning in the classroom. They may be surprised to find many online semesters pack more work into a shorter period.  Be mentally prepared to work and study hard, in addition to slating time for a great deal of reading and note-taking.
  4. Make your study space suit your needs. Since you’re not going to a classroom, create a comfortable and practical work area, and turn off distractions, like your cell-phone.  A ritual can help, like tuning in to a Spotify music station to signal your brain it’s about to get to work.
  5. Stay on top of computer updates to make your coursework go smoothly. Don’t let computer glitches or slow connections needlessly slow you down.
  6. Spend extra time discovering online resources AU offers students. Many of these resources aim to help you thrive in your studies.
  7. Also familiarize yourself with key dates and deadlines at the beginning of your course. If you haven’t arranged ahead for fitting in exams that require you to travel to an exam location, you may miss course deadline and that may cost you.
  8. Find out what kind of assistance is offered through AU in the event you require mental or emotional support.
  9. Sometimes studying online can feel isolating. Join in AU discussions offered that help you stay connected with other students and tutors.
  10. Make extra cash writing for AUSU’s The Voice Magazine. Not only will it help pay for programs, but it will minimize your stress about course fees so you can concentrate on studying instead.
  11. Online study also allows you to work prior to course start dates by reading ahead. For example, if you skim the unit the week prior to a start date, you will be ready to join in discussions and start assignments sooner.
  12. Be strategic in planning your study. Skim course work to see what needs to be studied more in-depth and what does not.  That way you’ll spend more time on the major work and less on the minor.
  13. Leave free time every week to catch up on reading, editing your assignments, and working ahead on your next unit.
  14. Examine grade descriptions and percentages that go toward overall grading. For example, if something comes up and you run out of time, you’ll know ahead that the group discussion for an assignment that only counts for 4 points is something you can skip to focus on the actual work that counts for 20% of your entire grade.  Or, note grade breakdowns to plan your study time wisely so you can avoid missing any work.
  15. Pay attention to the comments and edits your tutor makes in your returned assignments. They are spending the time to do so to help you learn where you may require further study.
  16. Consistently use one style guide in your assignments. Refer to it regularly.
  17. Find out what other video learning is available through AU that can help you avoid mistakes on your coursework and bring up your grade average.
  18. Try not to take on too many onscreen courses at once, especially if you work full time and have family obligations. Start out small and then, if you feel you can handle it, add more courses.
  19. Be aware you may not know who your assigned online instructor or tutor is until after you’ve signed up for a course. Unfortunately, you may have to adjust to a new tutor’s style of marking and communication. Prepare yourself for an online learning curve and try to remain flexible.
  20. Your tutor is not a mind reader, so best to communicate where you’re having troubles and what exactly you need help with. If you’re still not receiving assistance, contact student services to find out your options.  After all, you’ve invested a great deal of time and money into your studies, so you must advocate for yourself to get the most out of it.

Self-learning can certainly be the best path to attaining your degree or driving you toward a better career.  Do the work ahead of time and find out what Athabasca University provides to help make your dreams a reality.

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