5 Valuable Tips from Online Students

woman sitting on couch with laptop

The decision to return to school and pursue a degree can be complicated. When will you find the time to study? How will you pay for college? Will your family and friends understand your new priorities? And if it’s been many years since you’ve attended school, you may be wondering if you even remember how to study.

The rise of online education has made returning to school more convenient for working adults, but it has also added several new questions for potential students to consider when they contemplate higher education. After all, if you’ve never attended an online school before, how do you know if it will work for you? To help address some of the common questions new online students face, we enlisted the help of some experts on the subject. Ashford University students and alumni offer their best advice to prospective students below.

Work Ahead

Many students love that they’re not tied to a rigid schedule with online classes. While there are fixed deadlines for assignments, students are largely free to study, participate in discussions, and write papers at times that fit their schedules. This freedom does require discipline though to ensure all assignments are turned in on time. Ashford students recommend working ahead whenever possible.

“Time management and getting assignments in early helps a lot when you are trying to balance work, family, and school,” said recent Ashford graduate Lynn Williams. “The key to success is to work ahead as often as you can,” agreed Ashford graduate Seymour Goode. “Courses start on Tuesdays, but the course content is usually available the Friday before. Format your paper that first week. As the class progresses, slowly construct your paper using what you learned that week.”

Create a Study Schedule

According to Ashford students, another excellent way to manage time in online classes is to create a study schedule.

“My advice to new students would be to set aside at least an hour each day to study,” said Anthonyna Glenn. “Get a calendar and write down all assignment due dates. Life can become so busy, it is easy to forget when things are due.”

“Make sure you set aside time just for your school,” said Whitney McMillian. “Multitasking may be great in other areas, but make sure homework time is just for homework! You are investing in yourself and your future, so it pays to be a bit selfish with your time now.”

Keep Lines of Communication Open

Online students can sometimes feel like they’re all alone on their educational journey, but that’s simply not the case. A full support team is ready to help at every stage of the journey, but students must be willing to communicate with their advisors and professors.

“Ashford is a fabulous school and the Academic Advisors can really help you out,” said Kevin Pettus. “Don’t be afraid to ask for help.”

“Get to know your professors!” said Crystal Mishoe. “That relationship is so important to your learning abilities. Professors are available by email and phone. Honestly, I spoke with my Ashford professors more than I spoke with my teachers at an on-campus school. If you have questions on assignments, reach out.”

Explore All Available Resources

Support staff and faculty are just a few of the resources available to online students. Ashford offers a wide range of tools and services to help students manage their online studies, including the Ashford Writing Center, the Ashford University Library, the CHAMPS mentoring program, and more. Use the resources available to you.

“Make the Writing Center and Grammarly your best friends,” advised Jennifer Slater. “You will need them both. Never be afraid to ask for help. The librarians are freakin’ awesome.”

“Take advantage of the Ashford Writing Center to help guide you through assignments,” said Margie Martinez. “Also, use any other type of program available to help you, such as CHAMPS.”

Hang in There

There was one bit of advice that Ashford students and alumni overwhelmingly agreed upon: no matter what, don’t give up. Pursuing a degree can be a challenging experience and students will face some peaks and valleys along the path to commencement. But all the work pays off once you achieve your goal.

“Just keep moving forward no matter what,” said Jackie Reem. “It will get tough, because nothing worth having comes easily. Ever onward and upward!”

“Never give up on your dreams,” said Sara Garner. “There may be hard times ahead, but no one said it was going to be easy. That’s what makes the whole aspect of going for a degree so interesting; conquering each task to get to the next one. You can do it!”

Hopefully, these tips will give you an idea of how to prepare for your foray into online education. Many students have already earned degrees online at Ashford and are happy to share their experiences with new students. If you have a question about what to expect at an online university, try posting it on Ashford’s Facebook page. You’ll likely receive a response directly from students who have already walked the road you’re about to head down.

Written by Erik Siwak, Communications Manager for Bridgepoint Education

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