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How to Get In-Person Support While Studying Online

Apr 2, 2014 Jennifer Williamson, Distance Columnist | 0 Comments

One of the biggest challenges about studying online is that you’re essentially studying alone. You don’t have a face-to-face relationship with a professor, and you don’t have the support of a roomful of peers who are all studying the same thing as you. For some people, this isn’t as important as the benefits of online learning—flexibility and ease of access chief among them. For others, however, it can be a problem.

If you find you miss the face-to-face aspect of school while taking classes online, there are a few things you can do to get that support. Here are a few ideas.

Reach out to your fellow students

You’re studying online, but some of the students in your classes might be local to you—especially if you live in a larger city or you’re taking a class with high enrollment. It’s worth reaching out to see if anyone lives in your area and would be interested in getting together for a face-to-face study session. This could be at a bar, restaurant, coffee shop, or local library—wherever is convenient for everyone.

Start a Meet-Up group

Meet-Up is a website that lets people start their own groups based on mutual interests. You can start one in your area with a focus on your field of study, or with a focus on online learning in general. The people who join don’t have to be classmates of yours, but hopefully they’ll be people with a similar interest or who are going through a similar experience. This way, you can meet others in your situation and exchange tips and support.

Talk about your studies on social media

If you’re on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms, mention your studies from time to time. It’s possible that someone you know or are connected to on social media is also taking classes online or studying in the same area. Social media can help you find these people, and might lead to face-to-face meetings and study sessions.

Rely on friends and family

Your friends and family most likely want to help and provide support—but may be unaware that you need it. Talk to them. You may know someone who’s in the field you’re studying and who might be willing to review your papers or assignments. A friend or family member may be willing to help you study—or watch the kids so you can have some free time to finish a paper.  You’d be surprised at how much help and interest you could receive from your existing social circle.

Find a mentor

It’s possible you may know someone—or several people—who are already doing the type of work you want to do. It’s important to reach out to these people. Whether it’s a friend or family member, a colleague or supervisor at work, or someone you know from church, volunteering, or other extracurricular groups and activities, these people can be valuable contacts who can help you prepare for your career—and maybe even give you a lead on your first job outside of school.

Getting an accredited online college degree  isn’t easy. However, having a face-to-face network of support makes it much easier. Reach out everywhere you can—from your existing social network to students in your class and potential mentors—to find people who might be a source of support in your studies. Don’t be afraid to start a Meet-Up group or start the conversation in your classroom chat forum, because there may be other people just like you who are looking for that in-person support as well.


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