Distance learning in an online college can be a positive choice for many students depending on your specific needs and desires. Online classes offer the flexibility that some students need due to work and family obligations. Also, other students prefer to work in their own environment while still adhering to deadlines and exam schedules put forth by professors. Whatever your reasons for choosing distance learning at the college level, you can take these three steps to make your online learning feel more like a traditional college experience.
Create Relationships with Instructors and Students in an Online College
Even though you may not ever meet them in person, you will be spending lots of time working with your professors and classmates in each class you take. The better you know your professors and they know you, the smoother your online college experience will go. Emailing, messaging, or video chatting could all be options depending on your institution’s capabilities. The professor/student relationships you build during your college years is important for many reasons — personal and professional mentoring, future recommendations, and a better understand of the curriculum are just a few.
In addition, relationships with your classmates and peers, group projects, message boards, and discussions are likely to offer a more positive experience than if you are working with complete strangers. You won’t regret getting to know people with shared experiences and goals.
Get Involved in Activities with Other Students
Getting involved in activities or clubs with other college students is a great way to meet like-minded people who may be able to introduce you to more people and new experiences — a key element of the traditional college experience. Religious, political, or career-oriented organizations can help you decide what you are passionate about and help you make personal connections as well as network professionally.
Additionally, meeting other online students can be beneficial if you’re looking to make friends going through the same experiences you are. You already have in common your choice to attend an online college after all. A sense of belonging can go a long way in making you feel like you are part of something.
Create A Study Space
Whether you are living by yourself, with a spouse, or in a house full of kids, creating a study space for yourself is essential. Traditionally, students have a dormitory to study in, or study in the campus library. As an online student, you may not have those options, but you can set up a room in your home that is a dedicated quiet space where distractions will be eliminated or lessened. Alternatively, set up shop at a local library, coffee shop or internet cafe.
As many advantages as online college offers, one downside is the lack of a traditional college experience. If you are willing to work a little harder to living on campus and attending classes, you can make your college experience feel more traditional.