Being well prepared before you embark on your academic career will help you to not only avoid unnecessary stress, but also to enjoy the journey. Here are 8 behind-the-scenes secrets you’ll be glad you learned prior to taking your first online course:

#1 It is easier than you think.

If you haven’t read a book or written a paper since your high school days – don’t worry! You’ll make it through your online college courses just fine. First and foremost, you have the authentic and constant support of a team of professionals at Averett – including each course’s instructor – who want you to succeed. They are not focused on creating impossible hoops that you are supposed to jump through, or overloading you with work each week that no one could possibly complete. You will have to schedule time to read the materials and complete the required assignments, but the work and the requirements are not impossible. From tutoring services to resources that give you step-by-step instructions on how to put your academic work together, you’ll have all the help and resources you’ll need to succeed in each course.

You have the authentic and constant support of a team of professionals at Averett – including each course’s instructor – who want you to succeed.

#2 Due dates are set in stone for a course, so you can plan ahead.

All due dates will be posted at the onset of each course – so that is set in stone and you can look through the whole course syllabus to see what is due and when it is due. You are free to browse throughout each week’s work and see exactly what day’s assignments are due and then put those due dates on your calendar. If you look ahead and plan accordingly, it will help you to submit your work on time and give you time to complete the projects thoroughly.

#3 You’re not expected to read every single resource each week.

Don’t be overwhelmed with a week’s list of videos, articles, and book chapters recommended for you to review. The tools and information are there to help you understand the week’s topic, but no one expects you to read every single word in every single source every single week. One of the awesome aspects of the weekly discussions is that your peers will likely choose to comment about and reference some of the resources that you didn’t read thoroughly. Of course, you can’t count on simply reading what your peers post – you’ll want to share your own original thoughts for your discussion postings! So, while you are not expected or required to read every single article, reference, and book chapter for each week’s assignments, you will be expected to read what your classroom peers (and your instructor) have shared on the discussion board.

#4 It’s better to turn something in late than not at all.

Some college students – whether taking classes online or via a traditional brick-and-mortar classroom setting – think that if they missed an assignment’s due date, it’s too late to do it and they should just focus on the next assignment instead. On the contrary, it is always much better to still do the late/missed assignments and turn them in after the due date than to not submit them at all. While you’ll probably have a couple of points deducted for turning an assignment in late, that is much better than earning a “zero” for not turning in the work at all.

#5 Develop a rapport with your instructors.

Your instructors are people, too! At the onset of each course, he or she will provide a personal introduction about their academic accomplishments, career path, and possibly information about their family life or interests. If you know that you are going to be late submitting an assignment, or if you are stuck on exactly what to do for an assignment, send an email to your instructor. He/she will appreciate that you took the time before a project was due to reach out and let him/her know what is going on. They’re more than happy to work with you to help ensure your continued success in the course.

#6 Peruse the course requirements and the university’s website.

Before a course actually starts, you’ll typically get a few days to check out the course syllabus and get acclimated to what is expected of you. Set aside some time to explore the academic website and to complete any tutorials provided so that you can feel confident in your ability to post discussions, respond to your peers, and submit assignments virtually. You wouldn’t want to be bogged down with technical issues that could have been avoided had you taken the time to look around first! If you have any questions, send your instructor a note. If your questions are ones that you feel perhaps some of your peers might also have, post your questions in the forum instead of via a personal email. This way, other students will be able to see your question(s) and the instructor’s responses without having to ask individually.

#7 Get (and stay) organized.

As you move forward in your studies, there will be research you’ve done and assignments you’ve already completed for other courses that will help you complete future work. You don’t want to waste time searching through all your files to find a past assignment, so staying organized can help set you up for success. Give each course its own folder on your laptop, replete with the name of the course and the months you took the course. Then, for each file within that folder, detail the contents of each particular document in the name of the file. For example, you might label a folder as “Averett_Marketing_Jan-Apr2018” and a document within that folder as “Averett_Marketing_week2-discussion-socialmedia_Jan22”.  In addition, you may want to keep separate folders for research articles you’ve found that were of particular interest, too. This will come in handy if your academic program requires a major paper, thesis, or final project due at the end of it. Taking a few extra minutes while you are completing assignments to label and save them properly on your computer could save a lot of time in the long run.

# 8 Answer all the questions.

To earn the most possible points for each assignment, post, and response you submit in each class, and to demonstrate your thoroughness and attention to detail, be sure to answer or address each component requested. There will likely be a rubric for every assignment, so you’ll be able to look at that grading scale ahead of time to see what your instructor is using as a guide when grading your work. To ensure you’ve answered all the questions, you can use each question or required component as a “heading” and then respond underneath it before you post it. That way, you set yourself up to receive as many points as possible on each assignment!

While all eight of these behind-the-scenes secrets may not pertain to you immediately, at some point during your academic career they’re sure to come up. Being proactive and knowing how to navigate your way through your academic journey ahead of time will help to make the whole experience stress-free and enjoyable.



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