11 Tips on Making the Most of Your Online Education from a Veteran in Online Courses

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I received this letter from a colleague:

Dear Teacher:

I met you several years ago. I was going nowhere in my career. I knew I needed to awaken the giant within. I needed to find leadership in a time of crisis. I found it from you. You gave me some suggestions for succeeding with my online education. Your articles helped me unleash the power within. Please share with others your advice, namely the one about tips for succeeding with online and distance learning courses.

Your Pal,


Now that you know the secrets of his success, I share them with you.

11 Tips for Getting an Education Online

  1. Learn all the course requirements before you sign up.
    Most online education sites list course requirements. If they do not, call the school. If they don’t tell you, consider going elsewhere.

  2. Make a calendar.
    Note all deadlines. If your course is independent study, find out when you must complete the course. Good time management begins with planning.

  3. Make sure your computer and Internet hookup are compatible with the course.
    Convenience is the greatest advantage of getting an education online. An incompatible hookup negates that advantage.

  4. Sign up for courses that won’t require large amounts of one-on-one instruction.
    If you struggle with math, don’t take Calculus online. Take those courses you feel confident about.

  5. Sign up with a friend.
    Remember in high school when you and your friend signed up for the same classes? You can do the same with online courses, and you won’t get in trouble for talking too much in class.

  6. Set up a rewards system.
    Go out to dinner. Take a day trip. Distance learning requires self discipline. Self discipline is easier with a rewards sytem.

  7. Find out how to contact a real person.
    Administrative difficulties can be cleared up much faster by a friendly human being than an emotionless computer.

  8. Go the extra mile.
    One of the drawbacks of online education is the lack of discussion and interaction. This can be compensated for by doing a little extra. Remember it is your education. You might as well learn something.

  9. Learn graduation deadlines.
    Most courses must be completed by a certain date to be posted on your transcript. If you need your classes posted by a certain date as a graduation or a pay raise requirement, you need to know.

  10. Make sure the courses count.
    Most online programs are accredited. Make sure your school district recognizes the class for advancement on the pay scale before you sign up. A phone call to human resources will save you an unnecessary inconvenience.

  11. Find someone to make you accountable. A spouse, friend, or colleague can help keep you on track.