Stressed About Starting College?

4 Tips to be a Successful Online Student

By Micaela Burney, August 2015

Preparing for the road ahead and stressed about starting college? That's totally normal, as you're diving head first into a completely new experience. It can even be more stressful as you think and prepare for online college work. But don't freak out—I've got your back! Here are some ideas and tips to help you work toward being a successful online student.

1. Prepare before you start your class.

It is especially important during the online courses you might take during your college career that you prepare as much as you can before the class actually starts. This includes getting your books ordered as soon as you are able and reading through the course syllabus before you begin work. Something as simple as ordering your class book in plenty of time before your course starts can be important. Looking at the syllabus for dates and times things are due may also help ward off potential conflicts.

2. Understand your role as a student.

What does this mean? It means that you have a responsibility to make your class a priority in your life. Create a study plan for each class and prioritize your study time. As a high school student, you can wait for a teacher to tell you when to do something and how to do it. In college, you can't. You're not in Kansas anymore. You must take personal responsibility. Each class is going to require a different amount of time for studying. For example, two hours a night might cut it for one class but won't necessarily for another. Also, write down the different things you need to do to prepare for each midterm. Check and recheck your syllabus. I like to create a "to do" list and put reminders in my phone. It's my job to make the to-do list for each class and then determine how long I'm going to need to accomplish each task. You may know what you need to do to prep for your midterm but have you actually scheduled time to do it?

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3. Establish a relationship with your professor with good communication.

It may sound like this goes without saying, but it's an important aspect of self-learning. Communication between yourself and your professor often determines what your relationship will be. Your professors want to help and want you to be successful, but they can't help if you don't tell them the problems you are having. Your professor can be an amazing source for information, motivation, and encouragement throughout your college career. Your professors and advisers can help you manage your goals and help you navigate through one of the most difficult times of your college career: declaring a major. Professors are also a great networking source and they can provide guidance as needed.

4. Time Management.

One of the most important things I've learned throughout my online college experience is that you must keep track of your time. Managing your time is important to making a good grade in your class and good time management can also be used throughout your everyday life. Make sure you know when certain assignments are due. There are rarely any second chances and before missing an assignment make sure you ask for help. In one class, I couldn't figure out why I was getting graded so low on the assignments. Finally, instead of accepting my fate to fail the course, I decided to contact the professor to see what I was doing wrong. He helped me through the next assignment and allowed me to work for extra credit and at the end of the course, which I was originally failing; I ended up receiving a B.

College can be scary, even if it is online. I know I was frightened when I logged in for the first time. However, if you manage your time, establish good communication and prepare for each course, it can be a wonderful experience.

Best of luck in your future studies!

About the Author

Micaela Burney is lucky enough to be living on one of the most beautiful islands in the world; Oahu Hawaii. She is in the online Cybersecurity program at Utica College. She is particularly interested in Cyber Security and the law. She is in her second year of the program and will soon be looking for an internship. She would like to try to get an internship with the Oahu prosecutor's office in the Cybercrime division. Besides college, Micaela is also a violist (since the age of four), and has played as a soloist, with duo's and groups for many years. She mostly plays at weddings and events, like birthdays and parties. She is also a certified diver and hopes to start going on dive trips in Hawaii soon. College, her music and diving are more than enough to keep her busy, but she also has a service dog named Inca, to care for and keep trained in the over 90 commands she can do for Micaela!