Competitive Advantage

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Competitive Advantage

Delivering Tips, Insights and Resources for Success

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Adult learner taking an online class

7 Strategies to Get Ahead with Online Classes this Summer

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Summer is a great time to complete key credits you need to complete your degree and online classes can make it more convenient. Adults throughout Mississippi are taking advantage of the opportunities offered with online learning offerings to check off classes they need to complete their degree. These classes, however, come with unique challenges as well for returning adults students. 

Sure, on one hand, online programs provide convenience and flexibility, allowing students to fit completing the coursework they need to graduate into their schedules. On the other hand, these classes can also be isolating, time-consuming, and less engaging than in-person classes.

Fortunately, there are plenty of resources and strategies you can use to overcome these challenges and even thrive in the online classroom. Our seven essential tips for remote learning will help you stay focused and excel while you balance your many responsibilities.

How to Have a Successful Online Experience

Online education for adult students has exploded in popularity in recent years. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in fall 2021, 9.4 million undergraduate students (61%) enrolled in at least one remote course. Community colleges in Mississippi contributed to this trend by offering more than 3,000 online courses that semester. Additionally, many public universities in Mississippi allow students to earn online degrees.

However, despite its popularity and convenience, remote learning presents many challenges. For instance, online students often find it hard to self-regulate their learning and stay motivated. But following these tips will help you succeed. 

1. Establish a Structured Schedule by Balancing Work, Family Commitments, and Studies

Adult learners often have competing responsibilities that make prioritizing their schoolwork difficult. Your daily life might already be jam-packed with family, work, and social obligations. Creating a structured schedule will help you prioritize your tasks and juggle all your commitments. 

Start by estimating how much time you’ll need to devote to your schoolwork daily or weekly. As a general rule of thumb, you can expect to spend at least two hours working outside of class for each hour of instruction. So, if your online class meets synchronously — or live over video — for three hours a week, you should plan to spend at least six hours working independently. 

Based on this estimate, you should block out time for studying on your calendar. Some returning students find it helpful to work on each class a little each day, while others prefer to plan out several hours-long study sessions each week. 

Your calendar should also include non-negotiable commitments, like work and your child’s soccer games. Share your schedule with your family so they understand when you’ll need to focus on school. 

2. Create an Effective Learning Environment

Get in the right mindset for online learning by creating a dedicated learning space is key. Begin with choosing a quiet area with a door. Establish a private refuge for yourself from your children, pets, and other distractions. 

It can be tempting to work on homework in bed or on the couch, but an ergonomic chair and desk can help you focus on studying — and help you avoid the competing factors around you. Be kind to yourself by choosing a comfortable chair that provides adequate back support and prop your laptop on a pile of books or a stand to avoid discomfort. 

3. Define Clear Objectives for Your Learning Journey

Returning students should take the time to set clear goals for their education. Having a vision for your future can help you stay motivated when life gets hectic or classes get challenging. 

The SMART method can help you define your objectives. SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Examples of SMART objectives for adult learners include: 

  • Improving your communication and collaboration skills by participating in every class discussion 
  • Learning a new programming language by the end of the academic year
  • Developing career-ready skills by attending vocational training courses

Write your goals on a sticky note and place them in a location where you’ll see them frequently to remind yourself of your dreams. 

4. Engage in Effective Communication

Your professors are committed to helping you succeed in their classes. However, they can’t provide individualized assistance if you never tell them about your goals and problems. That’s why it’s essential to be proactive in communicating with your instructors both in class, and during their office hours. Then keeping in touch through email.

Say you can’t finish your homework on time because your kid became sick with the flu. Email your professor before the deadline to ask for an extension. Need some personal career advice? Set up an online meeting during their office hours to get their input. These small interactions ensure you have a positive online college experience and get the help you need. 

5. Leverage Online Platforms and Resources

Give yourself a leg up by taking advantage of online learning resources. Many of Mississippi’s colleges offer virtual tutoring, online career development webinars, and technology workshops for students who aren’t tech-savvy. If you can’t find what you need, reach out to your C2C Coach, they a great source for information on resources at your institution.   

You can also leverage supplemental online learning opportunities. For instance, you can learn more about subjects related to your classes by watching educational videos on websites like TED. You can also use these resources for lifelong learning after you graduate.

6. Regularly Monitor Your Learning Journey

Regularly monitor your progress to ensure you successfully achieve your academic goals. The Complete 2 Compete (C2C) program provides personal coaching to help you stay on track. Take advantage of the post-registration and pre-registration meeting with your C2C Coach. These meetings twice per semester are designed to help you stay on course, meeting your milestones and making adjustments as necessary. 

7. Embrace the Flexibility of Online Learning

Online degree programs offer immense flexibility, especially for working adult learners and those with busy family schedules. There are a variety of courses to help you complete your requirements and meet your professional goals right from the comfort of your home. Plus, you have the advantage of designing a personalized study schedule that accommodates your other commitments. This flexibility can help you get the most out of your experience as you check off the classes needed to complete that degree. 

How C2C Can Help with Your Online Classes

The C2C program helps adult learners in Mississippi flourish in the online classroom. Your assigned C2C Coach will help you plan the fastest path to completing your degree, identify those classes that you can complete on-line and connect you with resources at the institution you need to succeed. They will also help you in determining what financial assistance you may qualify for to help pay for your tuition. Complete our online registration survey now to schedule a call with a C2C representative.

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C2C is a state program that helps Mississippi adults who previously attended college earn a degree and create a brighter future.