Find out about prerequisites
The better online colleges and universities often have prerequisites in place that limit your choice of courses. Before setting your heart on a particular course, find out from the administrator if you qualify for the course you want to take. Maybe you need a certain amount of credits from beginner or intermediate courses before you can move on to more advanced materials.
Online learning requires discipline
While some colleges allow students to study at their own pace, others are very strict and run courses under teacher or professor supervision. They can demand that the student be signed in and participates for the duration of the lesson.
If an online course has no teacher supervision, keep in mind that should you struggle with a problem, there is no professor or helpful peer to guide you.
If the course offers live chat, it’s up to you to find the courage and ask a question or clarification if you don’t understand something. Keep in mind that the teacher can’t see you; therefore, it’s up to you to take the initiative.
Exams and tests
When it comes to exam time, be sure that you understand where you will be required to take tests. Don’t just assume that you’ll be tested online. Some online colleges require students to visit their college campus or another testing location.
· Online Exams
During an online exam you will have to answer a series of questions, each question granting you a limited period of time, making researching the answer nearly impossible.
It’s also possible that you are required to sign a code of honor that you will respect proper exam procedures.
· Proctored Exams
Proctors are used to oversee a student’s exam, if that student cannot take the exam at a real college or university. Online colleges usually publish a list of proctors to choose from. This can be teachers, guidance counsellors, librarians or administrators.
· On-site Exams
In the case of an onsite exam you will be required to travel to the college or university and take the exam, along with other students, under the watchful eye of a teacher or professor.
Set a goal for your leaning experience
Don’t let the chosen course turn into a five-year-plan. Set a realistic goal and work with a schedule. Tend to your course daily or at least a few days a week, just as if you would if you attended a real classroom. Pick up your assignments and set a deadline for turning them in.
Seek contact with other students
Even with a virtual course, there are message boards or forums where students can meet. Make it a point to visit those online communities and introduce yourself. Regular visits will make you a familiar face. Should you require help or encouragement, other students who recognize you will be more willing to help.
Get hard copy materials
Even though you are taking an online course, it helps to have course materials on paper. Sitting at a desk and peering at a computer screen is tiring for your body and eyes. You can absorb the material better if you print it and review it sitting somewhere more comfortable. As an added benefit, you can highlight certain sections on paper, something you cannot do on a computer screen.
Practice what you’ve learned
Reading course material is one thing; making practical use of it is another. Apply what you've learned in the classroom to daily life. Whether you are studying accounting or a foreign language, seek out an expert in the field and practice your skills.