Spring classes kicked off at Colorado State University on January 18. Whether you’re enrolled in an online, distance, or face-to-face class, now is the perfect time to get organized if you haven’t already. Take the time this week to knock the following tasks off your list so you’re prepared to have a successful spring semester.
- Set a study schedule. As an online or distance student, you have the flexibility to study whenever it’s convenient for you. Are you a morning person who prefers to study over a cup of coffee in your pajamas? Or maybe you’re a night person who’s at your best when the sun goes down? Regardless of your optimal study time, set a weekly schedule before the semester really kicks into gear and stick to it. This will help you avoid procrastinating and trying to find time each week to study. It will also allow you to set clear guidelines for family, friends, and co-workers about when you will be unavailable because you’re hitting the books. It is recommended that you budget 9-12 hours each week for a 3-credit course.
- Review the syllabus. Go through the syllabus for your classes and make sure the deadlines for major assignments and tests fit your schedule over the next few months. Find out if any personal or business trips may conflict with major deadlines and let the professor know as soon as possible. Since you are a non-traditional student balancing family, work, school, and other responsibilities, most professors will be willing to work out a compromise, like perhaps turning in the assignment early, if you give them advance notice.
- Start the habit of regularly checking into class. As an online or distance student, you should plan to check into your classes daily for updates from professors and discussion with fellow students. You should check to make sure there are no new threads, assignments, or updates to the class schedule. Plus, you’ll feel more like a student and learn more about your professor and classmates through the online networking tools available.
- Create or clean your study space. If you plan to study at home, this is critical. Make sure your study area is a comfortable place where you can really focus on your readings and assignments and avoid distractions. We also wrote a helpful post titled “Where do you study?” that might have some helpful hints.
- Gather your study materials. What you need to succeed in your classes will vary, but make sure you have the necessary materials prior to sitting down to study. Are your computer and printer operational? Check. Do you have the necessary books or DVDs for each class? Check. Are your pencils sharpened and notebooks handy? Check. This step may seem like a no-brainer, but a broken computer or missing book can kill the inertia of studying and get your semester off to a bad start.
Do you have any tips that would be useful to other online or distance students? Post a comment and share your advice. As a final step, sit back and remind yourself why you enrolled in an online or distance course in the first place: to get a better education, to get a promotion, or to start a new career. It can be easy to lose sight of your goals while you’re entrenched in work, family, a social life, and school. Keep your goals in focus and have fun this semester!