online business degreeAn increasing number of students are taking college classes online, some for degree programs offered completely through distance learning and others augmenting traditional on-campus classes with an online component.

The downsides of online education have been reduced dramatically in recent years. Access to professors and online course work that is every bit as detailed and robust as what students get on-campus has led to more and more universities giving full credit for online classes.

On the flip side, the benefits of taking courses online are many. For example, class lectures can be watched at the student’s convenience, allowing for flexibility with work, school and personal schedules. There is no cost for travel to or living on campus. And with the Internet, students can potentially take a class at any school they wish no matter their location.

Still, there are issues with online classes that differ than those found with on-campus classes. Here are some tips for business students who decide to take online classes.

Stay Focused
As in business, staying focused is one of the primary goals for successful students. Because there are so many distractions and no one to tell you that you have to go to class, it falls on the student to take the coursework seriously and routinely watch the lectures and attend sessions with instructors.

Make a Plan to Manage Time
Creating a calendar is a great way to get on top of when to go to class, when various papers are due and when texts are scheduled. This one small organizational tool can be a game-changer, providing a student with the underlying structure they need to succeed in class. Another important thing to include in a calendar are times and dates to study, preferably daily.

Check in Daily
A popular aspect of online courses is the ease with which students can check into class. Even those away from a laptop can check in using mobile devices such as an iPhone or Android device. These daily check-ins shouldn’t be confused with class-time or study time – this is making use of the technology to check in and make sure the student is up-to-date on everything happening with the class.

Create a Study Space
As in business, a student who wants to focus on work needs a space dedicated only to that task. While business professionals might have an office or a conference room, students need to pick a space with the solitude that allows for uninterrupted concentration. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that just because you can turn on a computer at a certain location – on the couch in front of the television, for example – that such a location is a good place for studying. Often, it is not.

Makes Use of Support Services
People in business learn early they can’t do it all by themselves, they have to turn to the people on their team, those who handle certain areas well, in order to best accomplish bigger tasks. The same is true of students. If a school offers online support services, make sure to contact them if there are problems. Be sure to know all the different ways you can contact your instructor. And if you find yourself falling behind in a class, speak up. No one will know you need help unless you ask.

Communicate
In every profession, communication is one of the top skill requirements. An inability to communicate effectively leads to issues both in the working world and in the classroom. And because all conversations will be handled via the keyboard, it’s important to know how to organize your thoughts and communicate them via the written word. And since everyone’s image of you will be created through what you write, be very careful to consider your message before hitting the “send” button.

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