4 Tips for Acing Your Next Online Community College Class

by A Guest Author

Seven years ago, I transferred from a traditional, campus-based college to an online school.  I had two years worth of coursework left for my bachelor’s degree.  I finished last month.  During those seven years of taking online classes, I failed many courses.  I also aced many of my classes.  Here are some lessons I learned from completing an online degree program.  Hopefully, they will help you ace your next online community college class.

Tips #1 and 2 are common-sense ideas, but should be mentioned in a post like this.  Beginning with tip #3 are tricks of the trade.  These ideas I learned during the eight years I spent pursuing a bachelor’s degree.  Needless to say, my advisors and professors did not teach me them. I hope they help you ace your next online community college course.

Tip #1: Find the Right School

Enrolling in the right online degree program for you is imperative to your success.  Most of my struggles were due to my lack of interest in the school’s curriculum.  If you aren’t interested in what you’re studying, then you won’t study.  Here are a few considerations for when you are selecting a program:

  • Is the school’s tuition within your budget?
  • Does the school match your specific interests?
  • Does the curriculum fit within your timeframe?

With all of the online schools available today, everyone should be able to find the perfect school.  Not only can people find a major they want to pursue, but they can find a specific concentration within that major.  For instance, aspiring pastors can enroll in one of their denomination’s online seminaries; they do not have to take classes from professors of another denomination.  This is true in all disciplines.  Even if you want to study welding, you should find a school that emphasizes the type of welding you want to do.

Tip #2: Learn How to Take a Test and Write a Paper

For many people, academic study does not come naturally.  Excelling at college is a learned discipline, which is both good and bad.  On the negative side, studying is a discipline.  It requires effort and does not come naturally.  On the positive side, because it is a discipline, anyone can learn to study.  The suggestion that people are natural test takers or natural writers is only slightly true.  Taking an exam or composing a paper comes easier for some than for others; however, there are steps anyone can implement to improve their results.

Here are a few tips for tests:

  • Take your time.  If you rush, you’ll make more mistakes.
  • Start with the questions you know.  Then progress to those you are less certain about.
  • “C” is the most common correct answer for multiple-choice exams.
  • On psychology exams, forget all guidelines.  Psychology professors like to mess with your mind; it is their job, after all.

When writing papers, these tips are useful:

  • Create an outline.  An outline is always better than your stream of consciousness.
  • Give yourself enough time.  In other words, start writing that paper now!
  • Get off of Facebook and start actually writing the paper.
  • Spell check is useful, but it is no replacement for proofreading the paper yourself.

These are only some basic tips.  Schools have more developed resources about taking exams and writing papers.  Many online courses have an appendix or document with suggestions.  If one is not available, tutors at a nearby, campus-based school are often willing to help.

Tip #3: Contact Your Professors

One of online education’s downsides is the lack of personal interaction.  Reading books, forums, posts and emails does not create the interpersonal atmosphere of a classroom.  In order to create a personal connection, every online student should contact his or her professors.  Email is sufficient, but a phone call is preferable.

By contacting your professors, you create a personal relationship.  Even though it is minimal, it is better than nothing.  It also shows them you are interested in the course.  Very few professors enjoy failing students, although I had one.  Most online professors will try to find you a few points, if they can.  Often an 89 can be bumped up to an “A-,“ or a 63 can become a passing “D-.“

Tip #4: Google Your Professors

Searching for your professors on Google is another great way to learn about them.  What are their specific interests?  Many online educators are published in journals and blogs.  From these, you can learn about your professor’s specific areas of knowledge.

Once you know what your professor is well-versed in, you can cater papers to his or her interests.  It is usually not wise to write an undergraduate paper on the same subject as your professor’s Ph.D. thesis, but citing it in a tangentially related paper has helped my grade several times.

About The Author:

Matthew Knapp writes articles about attending college.  For more college advice, visit SeminariesAndBibleColleges.com.

This post was written by A Guest Author

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