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Wondering whether an online degree program is right for you? Alliant now offers a variety of its graduate degree programs online – meaning you can earn the degree you need without having to relocate or commute to one of our campus locations.

While online classes offer more flexibility and convenience than traditional classes, they require just as much effort – and aren’t for everyone. If you’re considering an online program and are wondering if this learning environment is right for you, consider the below 7 keys to being a successful online student.

Create a Dedicated Study Environment.

Online classes can offer you flexibility to study when and where it may be more convenient for you. However, this flexibility requires discipline – and discipline is easier with minimized distractions. Without a dedicated study environment, you may find it hard to focus and succeed in an online degree program. It’s important to have a quiet room with plenty of desk space. When you’re in study mode, silence your phone, turn off unnecessary gadgets and let your family or roommates know not to bother you unless there's an emergency. If your home is too noisy, consider scheduling dedicated, consistent time in your local library.

Refine Your Time Management Skills.

Many online courses are not taught in real-time. While this offers flexibility, allowing you to take the course whenever is more convenient for you, that flexibility and freedom can make it hard to keep yourself accountable when it comes to attending class and working on assignments. To succeed in an online program, you will need to be self-motivated to stay on task, and you’ll need to hone your time management and organizational skills. Keep track of assignments and project due dates, and study in advance for exams. Try to log in to your classes a few minutes early and stay a few minutes afterward. You can use this time to get feedback from classmates and ask the professor questions without having to wait for an email response. Try to study at around the same time every day to foster a strict habit.

Know How to Ask for Help.

Because you may not have physical, face-to-face contact with your professors and fellow classmates, it’s easy to feel disconnected in an online learning environment. If you’re struggling with a course, this isolation can make it difficult to reach out and get the help you need. Most professors and even students will be happy to help – you just have to ask! Keep in mind that asking for help in an online course requires some planning and forethought. Professors may not be immediately available to offer assistance. Try to schedule a time to chat online. It’s also a good idea to make connections with your fellow classmates. Find out if any of your classmates live in your area and would be willing to meet up on occasion. Help is available – you just have to be patient in getting it.

Get Comfortable Communicating Through Email.

The majority of communication in an online degree program will happen over email, so it’s important that you are comfortable with email communication before you begin. If you are uncomfortable expressing yourself in writing – or if you aren’t good about checking and responding to emails – you may find an online program difficult. Save your professor's email address and share yours with your fellow students. Remember that your emails may not be read immediately, so don't wait until the last minute to send them, and set realistic expectations for response time.

Have Unlimited Computer and Internet Access.

It might sound simple, but one of the basic requirements for success in an online degree program is having the right equipment – and unlimited access to it. Most online classes are entirely digital, so make sure you have a reliable computer with a fast Internet connection. A slow computer or patchy Internet can interfere with video lectures and online exams. If you don’t own your own computer or have regular access to the Internet, an online program may not be right for you.

Pace Yourself.

Studying for too long at once can burn out your mind and body. Because online courses offer you the ability to work at your own pace, it can be tempting for both go-getters and procrastinators alike to try and pack an entire semester into a short study time. Pacing yourself on classes and assignments will not only help you learn the material better, but it will keep you in better shape, mentally and physically. Keep your study sessions focused and take regular breaks. Eat healthy snacks like fruit or granola, and stay hydrated. Break up long studying with physical activity, whether it's a workout at the gym, a walk around your neighborhood, or some calisthenics in the comfort of your home.

Stay Motivated.

Just one missed class or skipped study session can leave you far behind. Stay on task by setting rewards for yourself. For example, allow yourself to play video games or watch an episode of a TV show after a study session, or treat yourself to a nice meal for performing well on an exam. Find what works for you – and remember that the power to succeed is in your hands!

Although they’re not for everyone, an online degree program can be a great way to further your education without disrupting your lifestyle. Alliant’s online graduate degree programs can be particularly beneficial for working professionals. The flexibility and convenience of our programs means you can continue to work full-time while earning an advanced degree to help take your career to the next level. Learn more about your online programs today!

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