20 Success Tips for Online Degrees @ DWU

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Whether you plan to pursue Dakota Wesleyan University’s fully online RN-Bachelor of Science in Nursing,  M.B.A. in Strategic Leadership, or our brand-new Master of Arts in Education, we know you want to be successful. We want that for you, too. That is why we have reached out to students, faculty and staff alike to round up a list of tips to help you succeed—even before you start your classes. Here are 20 tips—in their own words:

1. Remember the program is like a marathon. Take it steady, slow and don’t burn all your energy on one part of the race.

2. Order your books in advance and look through them—even just briefly. We often make things harder in our minds than what they need to be and just becoming familiar with the book helps a lot! 

3. Don't procrastinate! Try to get a schedule down that you can follow, but always allow extra time in case of emergencies. 

4. Communicate with your instructors and your classmates. It is reassuring to know others are experiencing the same things as you. Don't be afraid to open up. It is possible to feel close to your class, even virtually!

5. I begin the course by getting organized and looking at due dates and how much is expected each week.  I also look at the midterm and final weeks to be sure I’m covering everything I need to be successful at the end of the course.

6. Stay ahead—but don’t get too far ahead!

7. Don’t hesitate to ask questions.  It is likely a question that more than one person has, so ask it!

8. Check into the online platform daily. Even if just for five minutes on a day you have everything done.

9. Make sure you enter your instructor’s name and contact information into your phone on the first day of the course. This way you know whom to notify in case of an emergency, power outage or illness.

10. Communicate with your instructor. ALWAYS be proactive if possible.  Contact your instructor BEFORE a due date, not after. Instructors understand that life events do occur, but they stress the importance of contacting them as soon as possible.

11. Understand the purpose of instructor feedback. Feedback and grading are part of the learning process and are how instructors teach in online courses. Do not take feedback personally. Instructor feedback is given to guide your learning through positive comments and suggestions or pointers to help you improve your work.  Please review and apply the instructor feedback to your next assignment.  Feedback is not given to make you feel bad, it is to help you grow in your professional role.

12. Read assignment instructions carefully. If unsure of what is expected, contact the instructor for clarification.

13. Remember that you are never alone in an online course. Reach out to the faculty or to others in the course if you are having problems or not understanding an assignment. 

14. Designate time for your readings and assignments and then allow yourself to not worry about class while you’re with your family, for example. 

15. Be realistic about your life, the demands and the things you can’t control. Schedule around your non-school responsibilities, and then be disciplined to stay as close to that schedule as possible. That allows you to say,  “I’m going to work on that paper on Tuesday from 7-9 and Wednesday from 5-8 because it’s due on Friday and I have other commitments on Monday and Thursday” and then on Monday night, you don’t feel guilty for not working on it, and on Thursday you’re not panicked while you’re at your other commitment.  This method allows you to go to kids’ activities, watch a sitcom, or go for a walk without feeling like you ‘should’ be working on coursework. 

16. Planning ahead also relieves you from the last-minute crises that can plague every human being – illness (you or your family), technology issues or a really good social event.

17. Before the class starts: Review the syllabus, print the course calendar and mark deadlines on it, and read everything on the course website so you find all the resources that were put there for you.

18. Understand your learning style. If you prefer to highlight/annotate on real paper, print everything at the beginning of the week/module/unit and carry at least a few pieces with you wherever you go. If you prefer to read online, make sure you have copies on multiple devices—phone, Kindle, laptop, iPad—so that you’re not dependent on an Internet connection if you want to catch up on your reading while you’re waiting somewhere (dr. appt., halftime, checkout line).

19. Read all the assignment requirements before you read the assigned reading (for the week/chapter/unit/module – the entire body of assignments related to that reading).  Know what answers you’re looking for before you start so that as you read, you save time by seeking those key concepts rather than trying to retain absolutely everything. You will save having to go back and needing to reread for certain questions. 

20. Make yourself stick to the schedule you’ve created. Be disciplined even if you’ve never been disciplined before. Your stress level and your GPA will thank you.

Categories: Blog: Online Degrees @ DWU
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