Success Tips for Online Students, Part 1

Making a new start

The new year is a perfect time for new starts, and getting a college degree or making a career change may be on your list of New Year’s resolutions. If they are, then you may be one of the many first-time college students enrolling in spring semester classes. Congratulations on taking action toward fulfilling your goals. Time spent selecting courses and preparing for the first day of class is usually filled with excitement and enthusiasm. It is also a time when you can take your first step toward a successful semester by considering your current obligations and the time you have to devote to your classes.

Consider your current obligations

I taught online courses for twelve years. During that time, I saw many students struggle because they had enrolled in more classes than they had time to successfully complete. Yes, I know there is a popular saying about being able to do anything you set your mind to doing. There is a lot of truth in that statement. I have had students who combined a twelve-to-fifteen-credit-hour course load with three or four children and a full-time job. A very few were exceptional students. They amazed me with their organizational skills and prompt assignment submissions. Then there the many in the middle who struggled to keep up with their obligations at work and at home while also trying hard to stay current with their coursework. Sometimes these students had to drop a course or two in order to pass the rest successfully. Others chose to complete what they had started but were disappointed in their grades. A few overwhelmed students simply stopped logging in to classes.  To avoid disappointing outcomes, take a good look at your current obligations and the number of hours per week you have to commit to your education.

Credit hours and actual time spent

For every three credit hours you enroll in, you will need an average of an additional six hours a week to complete the readings and homework assignments. That is a total of nine hours per week needed for one three-hour class. Twelve to fifteen credit hours is considered a full load because the amount of time needed per week is the same as a full time job: thirty-six to forty-five hours. If you have no other obligations, full-time is right for you. I realize financial aid requirements may be a factor in the number of courses you take, but if you cannot successfully complete those courses, the financial aid may go away. If you have a full-time job, children, and/or a significant other, taking a close look at your schedule and seeing how many hours you have to commit to your education is an important step towards your success.

This “success tips” series

I began this series as a single blog post of five success tips but soon found I had more to say than I could manage in a single post. Check back or subscribe for additional posts on reviewing your syllabus, setting up a study schedule, navigating an online class, communicating with your instructor, and more.

Copyright © 2015 Hazel Hart

 

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