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5 Tips For Staying On Track in an Online Degree Program

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Online degree programs make it easier for many students to graduate. Learners benefit from flexible schedules and lower travel costs. Nevertheless, you may encounter other challenges if you enroll in an Internet-based university. Technical problems, distractions or a lack of motivation could cause you to fall behind. This advice can help you succeed in the long run:

1. Get Prepared

Before each semester begins, check the minimum computer requirements for your degree program. Many colleges publish this information on their websites. For example, Belhaven University‘s online courses demand a machine with recent office applications, a high-speed Internet connection and at least 4 GB of memory. Such expectations vary by class at some colleges. Make sure your computer has the necessary equipment and software. To stay on track, remember to finish required upgrades prior to the first day of class. You should also take the time to master any basic computing skills you lack. Most professors expect students to create documents and send email attachments without assistance.

Resource: 30 Best Online Colleges 2015

2. Stay Focused

Try to establish a separate learning area with few distractions. Study in a quiet room that doesn’t contain a TV set, magazines, food or pets. Southern Arkansas University recommends removing games from your computer if you often feel tempted to play them. Don’t let friends or family members interrupt your work unless they truly have important reasons for doing so. Turn off unnecessary notifications on computers and phones. You don’t need to immediately know about every new message in your inbox, and no one has the right to demand an instant response.

3. Plan Ahead

Online courses require a major time commitment. You’ll need to set aside many hours for classwork; don’t try to cram it into a few spare moments before bedtime and during lunch. A daily schedule can help you manage your time wisely. Be sure to allocate sufficient hours to education, employment, household chores, exercise and relaxation. Long-term planning also holds great importance. Use a planner to set goals and record due dates. To prevent scheduling conflicts, list upcoming appointments and work obligations in the same calendar. Consider making separate daily and monthly to-do lists as well.

4. Work Less

For most people, it’s unrealistic to maintain full-time employment while earning a college degree online. Think about asking your supervisor if you can temporarily work fewer hours. You may need to cut your spending, but it is worth making a few sacrifices to avoid failing classes. However, keep in mind that you may lose valuable benefits if you no longer qualify as a full-time employee. The Affordable Care Act requires most companies to offer health insurance to anyone who works at least 30 hours per week. Minimum hour requirements for other benefits still vary from one employer to the next.

5. Look Forward

Almost any degree program will involve at least one course that seems boring, unnecessary or excessively difficult. Such classes can make you feel uninspired and pessimistic. You might even consider dropping out. When this happens, reflect on the original motives behind your decision to enroll in an online university. Think about your future and how a college degree could improve it. If you can surmount short-term obstacles and stay on track, employers may reward you with higher pay, better benefits or a more interesting career. For further inspiration, visualize the new experiences you might enjoy if this becomes possible.

By consistently following these tips, you can balance your obligations, boost productivity and avoid time-wasting pitfalls. This will help you maximize your grades and complete an online degree program as quickly as possible. If you still struggle at times, never be afraid to ask instructors or fellow students for assistance.