6 Steps to Starting Online Classes

Posted By Staff Writer on September 15, 2015

Does going back to school feel like a giant leap? By breaking down the steps, you'll find it easier to choose the right program and be well on your way to achieving your goals. If you're considering online education, now is the time to figure out the steps you'll need to take in order to make that happen. It starts with finding the right academic program, researching how to apply (including your financial aid needs), and planning your time so you aren't overwhelmed when you start school. Here are six steps to starting online classes.

1. Define your goals

Take the time to consider what you want to do in your career. What type of work appeals to you? These six questions can help you identify your starting point:

1. Are you looking to advance in your current job or switch careers?

2. Do you have a hobby you'd like to turn into full-time employment?

3. Do you like to work with people or independently?

4. Do you like to solve problems with clear answers?

5. Do you enjoy design and creative thinking?

6. Do you want to navigate the most current technologies?

Use your answers to visualize your career goals before deciding on a program to ensure a good fit.

2. Find programs that fit your career goals

Your goals may make an education-to-employment path obvious. Consider whether you are looking for a brand new career path or are going to continue in your current field and build on the work experience you have now. Knowing where you want to go will help you when you speak to school advisors. Next, talk with an admissions consultant to see how your goals align with a program that leads to the career you want. Discuss your interests and options and ask questions about each program that interests you.

3. Outline your financial needs

Take a look at your finances. What will it reasonably cost you to attend school? If you're working and looking to advance your career, talk to your employer about tuition assistance. There are also a number of loan, work study, and grant opportunities to consider. After consulting with admissions, a financial planner at Independence University can help you explore these options in depth. When planning your finances, always keep in mind the costs of books, course materials, and living expenses as well as tuition.

4. Plan your workload

Deciding how quickly you want to complete your degree before you start will help you succeed. Think about how much you can reasonably work while attending school, and consider what home routines might have to change to allow you enough study time. Remember to factor in both class time and study time when preparing for school.

5. Plan your schedule

Get a head start. Look through the class syllabus to schedule your study time for the entire quarter or semester right away. This will help you plan for larger assignments. Try not to overcommit yourself in the first semester. You can always adjust your schedule once you've taken your first class and established a workflow. When possible, give yourself focused windows of time for coursework. Take advantage of the calendars on your computer and smartphone. Make sure they are in sync with each other and be sure to update them on all your devices.

6. Perfect your study skills

Time management is critical here, especially for online study. You may want to try out a focus method like the Pomodoro technique or join a peer study group to help keep yourself motivated. Prioritize your schoolwork and start with the most challenging tasks, rather than the easiest ones. Keep a notebook and pen handy. Even if you're taking classes online, writing your notes can still help your memory. And take advantage of those windows of time throughout your day you identified earlier.  Use your commute time or lunch break to get ahead on required reading. Furthering your education is a big decision. We hope these six steps will help you choose your path and stay on track once you've enrolled. Get started at Independence University Get a complimentary 5-minute consultation and we'll show you how easy it can be to start your degree! Independence University offers a wide variety of fully online degree programs designed for some of today's fastest-growing career fields, such as businesshealthcaretechnology, and graphic design. Call 800-972-5149 or visit today to learn more.