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Seven Ways Online Students Can Prepare for School This Summer

Jul 21, 2010 Jennifer Williamson, Distance Columnist | 0 Comments

For many online students, summer break isn’t exactly a break. Plenty of online students are not exactly your typical college student. They’re likely to have families and full-time jobs to deal with in addition to classes.

So as an online student, maybe you’re not spending your summer break sitting by the pool. But even if you’re busy, there are a few things you can do to prepare for school in the fall that will make your life easier once the semester starts up again.

Get a dedicated Internet line

If you don’t already have Internet at your house, get it. This is absolutely necessary for online students. What good is the flexibility of an online degree program if you have to worry that the internet connection you’re “borrowing” from a neighbor will fail at the wrong time, or go to a library or café to study? Go with an Internet service that can handle the demands of delivering your online classes.

Set up a home study area

Man With White Computer

Summer is the perfect time to pick an area of your home to convert into a study area. Head to a hardware store and buy the materials to build shelving for your books and study materials. Buy a new desk. Make your area inviting with pictures of loved ones and other decorations. And make sure it’s in an area of your home where you’ll have few distractions from family members and noise.

Get your books used

If you get your syllabus ahead of time, take your time this year to find the best deals on textbooks online. Comparison shop and make sure you’re getting the cheapest textbooks out there. And if you have the time, check your local public or academic library first to see if they have a copy you can borrow—or check with other students to see if you can get a used copy from someone you know. The more time you have, the better you’ll be able to get books for a bargain.

Update your equipment

Maybe your laptop is cutting-edge—for 2007. Or maybe you’ve been considering an e-reader. Whatever the reason, use the summer to evaluate your electronics and make any purchases you need before the school year starts. Whether you need a new computer, a new iPod to listen to lectures with, or just a good pair of sound-blocking headphones to help you concentrate, use the summer to do your research and find some good deals.

Create a schedule

If you know your work schedule for the next year, take time during the summer to look it over and plan out study time. If you know ahead of time when you plan to study, you can use your time more efficiently once the fall semester starts—and you’re less likely to be caught off guard by scheduling demands. Be realistic about how much study time you’ll need for each class, and choose a set time to study that fits in with your work schedule and family obligations.

Check in with your instructors

If you get contact information for instructors at some point during the summer, send a friendly email to say hello and introduce yourself. Building a relationship with your teachers and professors can be great for your online education—as well as your job search once you graduate from your degree program. You never know who might have the contacts that will lead to your next job, and the sooner you can make sure you stand out to your teachers and professors, the better—for both your education and career. 

If you’re like most online students, you have a full load of work and family obligations this summer—but it’s still worthwhile to take some time to prepare for the months ahead in class. If you don’t already have a home Internet connection and a quiet place to study, definitely make sure you do by the time school starts. And use the time between the end of one school year and the beginning of the next to get good deals on textbooks, electronics, and any other supplies you need. If you get time, send a quick email to your instructors—and you should be set to handle anything the school year throws your way.

Going back to school ONLINE



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