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Seven Habits of Highly Successful Online Students

Nov 29, 2013 Jennifer Williamson, Distance Columnist | 0 Comments

The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People was an international best-seller—with a lot of important insight to offer. But what are the traits and habits that ensure your success as an online student? Just to be clear, there are many different learning styles and many ways to be successful, both in traditional and accredited online college classrooms. However, there are a few habits that make it more likely you’ll do well in an online school.

You’re a creature of habit

You study at the same time every day, for approximately the same length of time. One of the great things about online school is that, for the most part, you get to set your own class and study schedule. But that can be a problem for some students as well. If you’re not fairly regular and stringent about your study habits—whether they’re early in the morning, late at night, or on your lunch break—you’re more likely to skip studying whenever life gets too hectic. That can hurt your academic progress.

You don’t procrastinate

When you’re a traditional student, you can get away with procrastinating because you’re not expected to worry about much else except your academics. But as an online student, you might also be a full-time employee, parent, or both—and you have less leeway for mistakes. And you never know when life can get crazy. So if you start on homework projects and papers as soon as you get the assignment, you’re more likely not to flounder if you suddenly have a sick child or a major work commitment the night before it’s due

You’re highly organized

You back up your files, you keep assignments or papers on your own computer, and you have an organizational system that works for you—regardless of how messy it appears to others. Your system doesn’t have to take a lot of work to maintain, but it does have to keep you organized and make sure your resources, study materials, paper drafts, and assignments are easily accessible whenever you need them.

You have a support network

Going it alone can sound noble. But online students face the pitfall of becoming too isolated—relying only on themselves for inspiration, energy, and success. You might work better on your own—but most people are more likely to succeed if they talk about their goals with others and enlist help in succeeding. Whether that means starting an online study group outside of class or getting a friend to watch the kids during your study time, don’t be afraid to rely on others to get your needs met.

Your professors know your name

Successful students don’t just cultivate support networks among their peers. They talk to their professors. Developing a rapport with a professor can be valuable—not just for that particular class, but for your wider career. A professor may become a valuable mentor—or may be able to help you individually once you hit a rough patch—if you cultivate a one-on-one relationship beforehand. If your professor does online chats, make a point to show up and have a conversation. If not, try to initiate a conversation via email. Be sure the professor knows about any specific learning challenges you have, and also offer to share any expertise you’ve developed as a professional in an area relevant to the class if it’s applicable.

You’re ambitious

Many traditional and accredited online college students are taught to look at college as a time of self-discovery—and if they don’t know what to do after graduation, that’s just fine. But if you’re an online student, you’ll keep your focus better if you know exactly what you want to do with your degree after graduation—and you think about that goal every day. It will keep you working hard even when other demands in your life get out of control. It will keep you pushing through difficult assignments as well. If possible, clip or print out a visual reminder of what you want to do with your degree—or write a list. Then tape it up in a prominent place where you’ll see it every day when you sit down to study.

You go above and beyond

Anyone can just complete the assignment and be done with it. Not everyone has the interest to do more than is required—and perform more in-depth research into a topic. Whenever you have the opportunity, try to do a little more than is asked. This will impress your professors—who can be valuable advocates for your career as well as your academic success—and it will allow you to get more out of your assignments.

There are many ways you can achieve as a student—and this is by no means an exhaustive list. However, these habits will serve you well in any online classroom—and help you build healthy work patterns that will drive your success in your career as well.



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