switching to online college

Tips for Switching from Traditional College to Online College

Updated By Staff Writer on July 31, 2020

There are plenty of reasons to be switching to online classes right now. Maybe your school is closed for the rest of the year and is switching from on-campus to online. Or maybe your life needs more flexibility, so you’re transferring from campus to an online college. Whatever the reason, the transition from on-campus to online can be challenging if you don’t know what to expect. Before going into an online course, you should know how the course is structured and what it takes to succeed.

Different Kinds of Online Learning Experiences

With all kinds of different approaches to online learning, it’s important to know what online school is like. Most approaches can be divided into two categories: asynchronous and synchronous.

Asynchronous Courses

In asynchronous courses, students do not participate in real-time learning. Instead, resources are provided for them to use and study on their own time. There’s usually no scheduled class meeting times; teachers will record their lectures and send them to students for later use. Deadlines for assignments and exams still apply.

Synchronous Courses

Synchronous courses require students and the teacher to interact on a regular basis. This is where video conference classrooms come into play and allow students to ask questions in real-time. Assignments may have their own deadlines outside of class time, but professors may still require students to show proof of completed work during their video conference.

Related Content: Tips for Non-Traditional Students Returning to College

How to Be a Successful Online College Student

Don’t be fooled, just because you don’t have to physically appear for classes doesn’t mean life will be easier. So what’s the difference between online college and regular college? While online education can provide a lot more freedom than traditional schooling, it requires more self-discipline and focus. With that in mind, here are some tips for online class success.

Get Your Technology Working

Taking online classes means your success is in the hands of your computer, so you need to know how to use it well. If your classes require video conferences, make sure you have a web camera. Most laptops and many desktop computers already have one built-in, but you can easily find one online if yours doesn’t have one. Test your audio, so you know people can hear you, and you can hear them.

Additionally, you need to know what software you’ll be using during a term and have it installed on your computer.

Stay Motivated

All of the flexibility online classes offer can be incredibly freeing and allow you to work at your own pace. It just can’t be a snail’s pace. Online education makes you your own boss; there aren’t professors or advisers breathing down your neck trying to keep you on task. That’s your job now. You need to complete your tasks and assignments in a timely manner, and set time aside every day to study. Don’t put things off because you think you have all the time in the world—that’s a slippery slope to bad grades.

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Schedule Your Week

You won’t be able to rely as heavily on professors reminding you about deadlines every time you go to class. Become familiar with the syllabus and jot down important due dates on your calendar, so you have time to prepare. For example, if you have a test on Friday, start studying the Monday before. Be honest with yourself and give plenty of time to accomplish your tasks.

Get to Know Your Professors

Even though there’s greater physical distance between you and your professor, this doesn’t mean you miss the chance to get to know them. Take this opportunity to email your professors and foster a comradery. Reach out about advice on assignments and study tips. This shows professors you care about the class and value their opinion, which can open up a meaningful relationship.

Avoid Distractions

There are numerous distractions at home. The allure of snacks, TV, needy pets, loud roommates or family members, and social media can cut into your study time. To avoid falling behind in your work, set up an environment where distractions are limited. Find a room where you can close the door and focus. If you find yourself getting easily distracted, take a break.

The Right Online Experience for You

If you’re looking to transfer to online college, Independence University is an online school that prepares you with real-world experience. Be sure to check out our online resources to make sure you know how to be a successful online college student.