4 Success Tips for Online Programs

Step one, time management and schedules.

If this is your first online program, start out small. Avoid overwhelming yourself with a full course load. Just take one online course during a semester to get a feel for how it all works and how well you like the program.

I know you have heard the hours required to do the work, I think of it as for every hour of class set aside 5 hours to study and complete assignments. It doesn’t have to be in 5 hour blocks, often 30 minutes here and there will cover the discussions and replies to the group, as well as planning for upcoming assignments.

All of the MPA classes so far have offered a syllabus at the start of each class. The layout is weekly which means you know which week each item is due at the start of class. Go through every week on the first week of class and create your own calendar from the weekly schedule.

Step two, cover your backside.

If the schedule for the week says submit everything by Sunday, move the date to Saturday. If it says the initial post is due mid-week, which can be either Wednesday or Thursday depending on how you look at the week, just move it to Tuesday. And if you know for sure you can’t make one of the deadlines on the schedule the instructor gives you ask upfront for the extension by no later than the first day of the week it is due or ask to turn it in earlier, do not wait until after.

Step three, establish proficiency.

The professor has set the minimum amount of work due and the format they want each item submitted. Never do things over and over if you can do it once and be done with it. All of my MPA classes have had an assignment due each week. The format is the same, so I set the header formats, the first page format, layout the body of the paper, and the reference page format up on the first assignment. Cut and paste. Save the assignment in the correct format and use it as a template for each assignment thereafter. Simply swap out titles, dates, and the actual body of the assignment.

For the reference page you will have textbooks and reference materials from the very beginning that will be used throughout the semester. Create the reference for each one at the start of class in a separate file. Everything you grab or use a reference over the course of the semester add it to the page and when you do each assignment you simply cut and paste which ones you reused over the course of the semester. This page can be used at the discussions, projects, and exams as well.

Proofread everything, because all of your communication in an online course will be written. Check your grammar and punctuation, also check for clarity and conciseness when proofreading your work to ensure smoother communication.

Step four, Utilize Resources.

Anna Maria College has a Resource Library, use it. You can find “how-to” formats, references, and resources to complete every assignment. Plus, you can email your professor or chat with your class mates. If you do not know how to do it then you can find a resources that shows you how, or ask someone else who can show/tell you.

If you have the template set up for how you are submitting the assignments, ask the professor to do a check the first time before you submit it to make sure that is what he or she expects to see submitted.

Familiarize yourself with the technology you will likely encounter on a daily basis, this includes databases, online forums, email, websites, webcams, etc.

Follow these four steps and you should be on the right path to success.

About the Author

Maie Armstrong is a Civil Engineer and Public Works Employee from North Carolina. Maie has worked in engineering for over 10 years and she is very keen on designing, developing, consulting, reviewing, and speaking about high quality public service and environmental guidelines while familiarizing herself with the financial and managerial issues involved in Public Administration. Her experience spans across several states and two countries.