How Online Students Get Help Surviving Their First Weeks In School

survive first week in school

When you become an online student, getting off on the right foot is crucial to your confidence and your forward progress. This point is especially true for adult learners who have to adjust to the online format while trying to maintain stability at work and at home. If things start to go south after the first or second courses, you’re not in a position to succeed, and the temptation to quit becomes harder to resist.

Students feeling the pressure need people to turn to for support. That’s where Ashford University’s Readiness Advisor team comes in.

“The first five courses are a ‘high risk’ period for students,” according to Reina Reyes, a Readiness Advisor since 2012. “Students experience of range of emotions when getting started, everything from excitement to fear.”

At Ashford, students attend one course at a time, with undergraduate courses lasting five weeks. Reyes and her team act as the main points of contact for students from the time they reach the fourth week of their first class, through the end of their fifth course. This timeframe is a period of adjustment in which students may become overwhelmed while learning the basics of the online classroom, prioritizing their weekly schedule, and working to overcome distractions.

The Readiness Team creates a contact strategy for each student, and an advisor will check in weekly or bi-weekly in order to evaluate progress and comfort level, and to provide guidance when needed. The frequency varies from student-to-student.

“Students who have no prior college experience will likely receive weekly appointments with us to gauge how well they acclimate to their classrooms,” said advisor Megan Fisher. “If a student is in a class they feel comfortable with, they may have less appointments than if they are in a class they find pretty challenging.”

“Students need help building confidence, which is an important goal during [the first five courses],” added Reyes. “The more confident a student feels, the more self-sufficient he/she becomes, and that ultimately increases their chances of persisting through the program.”

Once a student completes their first five courses, they are then introduced to a College Advisor, who will act as their main point of contact throughout the rest of their degree program. Getting out of the “high risk” zone is an accomplishment shared by both the student and Readiness Advisor.

“If a student can persist beyond their first five courses, continuing and reaching graduation becomes more of a reality,” according to Reyes. “As Readiness Advisors, we are glad to be part of such a challenging, yet rewarding time.”


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Written by Jason R. Latham, Content Manager for Bridgepoint Education

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