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Not Just Capable, Ideal
Identifying the type of student best suited for earning an online degree, or one who is ready for online instruction, is a function of understanding the type of work involved. Most people can complete an online degree program provided they are of average intelligence and are willing to take the process seriously but this article is intended to address the characteristics that makes a student ideally suited for the online degree process.
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Motivated and Driven
At its most fundamental, online learning is a classroom of one. No instructor, no classmates, no classroom---just a single learner in an isolated situation making the most of the materials provided. In order to transform these circumstances into a rich learning experience replete with meaningful exchanges that lead to measurable increases in knowledge, a person must have specific characteristics. The type of student best qualified is capable of reaching out and pulling the classroom into his world. He is motivated, confident, and driven. Online degree programs use text as the primary method of communication, so he is capable not only of learning the concepts but is good at converting the ideas he reads into action and outcomes. To him the online classroom is his conduit to the knowledge and skills the he will use to better his life.
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Writing is a necessity in the online program, so the student uses her above average writing skills to her advantage. She relies on grammar and spelling checkers to find the errors she missed in editing her documents. She does not rely on them to correct dozens of errors in usage, spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
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The student best suited for online degree programs possesses general computer literacy. He understands how to use a web browser and is capable of conducting effective searches. He knows how to download files, attach files, use plug-ins like Flash players, and is capable of learning new skills without great difficulty.
Comfort with certain aspects of technology is important for online learning but is generally limited to a few specific program types. Spreadsheet software, presentation software, and .pdf file readers are some of the main titles the student uses to be successful in the online degree program.
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Word Processing and Style
Word processing software is important for the online student but requires more than just basic knowledge. The ideal student is able to adjust paragraph settings, modify spacing, and change a number of other settings as well. Regardless of the school, she will inevitably need to modify page layouts in order to meet style requirements such as APA, MLA, Chicago, or others. This means that she will be able to modify headers, footers, page numbers, footnotes, endnotes, and reference pages.
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You Can Do It
Anyone considering an online program might be concerned with these requirements. The good news is that most people can do well with online instruction provided they have the drive to succeed. Students that lack some of the aforementioned characteristics can take courses to prepare them for the rigors of online degree programs. Another option is to enroll in a school that helps students ramp up the essential skills as part of a first year program. The key point to remember is that the characteristics required to be ideally ready for online instruction are within the reach of everyone but what truly makes a student suited for online study is the motivation to make it happen.