Today technology has changed our lives from birth until we are ready to enter college and beyond. The internet has placed the knowledge of the world at our fingertips. Yet with the vast amount and access to the knowledge, the other on-line distractions have decreased our time to absorb and apply the wealth of information. Universities have done a wonderful job gathering knowledge and structuring it in an integrated way that is useful and practical. With our limited time to find and translate this mountain of information into workable knowledge, we can use what universities have done for us, and capitalize on the on-line medium. This on-line model is fundamentally changing the way we learn and acquire knowledge and earn degrees. As this trend catches up with prospective students looking to maximize their time by balancing work and study, the on-line model offers the best opportunity for success. The continuous growth of on-line learning is still in its infancy and we should expect the explosion of on-line degree offerings to continue.

If you are an on-line student, or consider becoming one, here are the 10 best practices to help contribute to your success and help you complete your on-line degree:

1. Choose a degree that fits your passion

Draw from your experience and imagine yourself in a field or program that can ignite your passion. Then, search out such opportunities within your institutions or universities’ boundaries. You will be amazed at what you can discover.

Here are questions you should ask yourself when you are choosing a degree: Do you have passion for the degree, maybe not about all the subjects, but for the job, it will prepare you to do? Does the university’s style, approach and accessibility align well with who you are? Do you have a good chance of completing the degree so you can build your own knowledge brand and make you more sought-after?

Knowledge from the topic studied is important, but the degree is what says, “I am marketable”. The degree completion shows others that you are persistent and not a quitter. Knowledge from the topics studied is important, too. The combined set of subject knowledge and application provides both breadth and depth for this field of study.

2. Begin with the end in mind

When planning to embark on your on-line studies, it is essential to start with the end in mind. You should start by asking what you want from this pursuit. Will you stick to schedule and follow the program to completion? Do you have enough capital? Can you arrange financing?

You need to think over these questions to lay down a good foundation. Understanding this will enable you to work through the study process more efficiently. Today, the Internet provides the opportunity to browse through dozens of web-based portals dedicated to educational grants and financing and the avenues to access and apply what suits you best. Do not be discouraged by the array of requirements. By digging deeper, you will likely come across other great opportunities.

3. Be flexible

On-line education delivers knowledge without the constraint of time or place, thereby; students have the adaptability needed to plan their daily schedule properly. Make sure you do well with flexibility and that it will not keep you from being successful.

4. Plan and prioritize

To stay connected to the learning community is paramount. Your interaction level builds confidence in on-line learning. Building a student-instructor relationship that is akin to classroom learning is important. Become known by class mates, and get to know their strengths and weaknesses. This provides a deeper sense of belonging to the on-line class community.

5. Block your time

Once you have planned and prioritized your success path, it is important to block your time to perform all you need to do to be successful. Going to school is hard work and you should treat it the same way you would treat a job. There are certain hours you need to invest and you should expect to get a return on your investment, which in this case, is through the course grade.

6. Develop great study skills

You should have or create a study guide that encompasses critical thinking and writing skills. Find people who have been successful at studying and learn from them. Look for patterns of what others have done and match those that work with your style and preferences. In addition, you will be working with different information sources, so accessing and appropriately citing the various types found, will help you use these “experts” to contribute to your knowledge.

7. Stay Focused

The work and effort a student puts the on-line classes determines the quality of the learning experience. How well they read the material, how prepared they are to engage in classroom discussions are important factors to the quality of the learning experience. Do not let the unimportant and urgent stuff distract you from the important, urgent and non-urgent stuff. It is your focus that will keep this in check.

8. Get an accountability coach

Most of us have the belief that we can do it all, and we own our own success. Asking for help has a stigma of weakness or laziness which has been drummed into us since we were children. We are held accountable for our successes. This does not mean we have to do it alone. Find someone who is relentless and invested in your success to help keep you on track. Often, that other person needs some of the same prodding to stay on the course of success that you can offer. You can repay the favor by being an accountability coach for them as well. The trick is to communicate as frequently as possible without it feeling like micromanaging or taking more time to check-in than it does to complete the real work.

9. Apply your knowledge

We often compartmentalize our time and see a strong divide between work, life and school. Once you realize that all the compartments can benefit each other and start applying what you learn in school to your work and freetime, the faster the schoolwork will take on meaning. The reverse is true as well. Taking the time to tackle the challenges from work and freetime using your schoolwork can create an integrated system for solutions.

10. Use technology

Being familiar with computer technology is essential to undertaking on-line classes. The ability for you to use the course management system comes into play. Thus ensure that you can easily navigate and improve on your computer skills overtime. In on-line learning, developing ways to do more with less complements is a factor in working toward a desired on-line degree. Becoming skillful in using computer technology to search, evaluate and produce the content needed to show your competence faster and better is your differentiator in your field. This “working smarter, not harder” is a practice that will be equally important once you have completed your degree.

In the end, convenience and flexibility-factors will prove handy giving students the lasting satisfaction to lay the roadmap to the completion of their on-line degree program. Balancing family life and work at the same time makes the whole experience worthwhile. However, having more interaction with fellow classmates and creating a network can help to engage actively in the on-line learning community. Do not put off until tomorrow, what you can do today.

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