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Student Success in an Online World

In my time working for online schools, many different students have crossed my path, each with his or her own story that had led them to online learning. While it’s impossible to tell with complete certainty which student will or will not succeed, it is quite possible to identify early on, the traits that will lead to student success. So here is my contribution to all those considering entering the world of online schools.

An Online Student Is Someone Who:

  • Is Proactive. When you don’t go to class on a daily basis, the only way for a teacher to know how to help you is for you to communicate your needs. Teachers won’t see that you don’t have your book, so if you can’t access your courses, you need to tell them. If you are the student who comes to class without their book and does nothing to let anyone know you need to share a book, online is going to be a harsh reality for you. A successful online student lets the teacher know right away if they are unable to access their classes or are struggling on an assignment.
  • Is Self-Motivated. If you’re the student who doesn’t start working on an in-class task until your teacher prompts you to, online will only worsen things. In the online environment, there will be no teacher standing in front of you each day to motivate you to do your work. Student success in online learning is dependent upon self-motivation. A successful online student jumps into their own learning without prompting from teachers, parents, or friends.
  • Plans Ahead. Your teacher is not going to be reminding you of what you are doing each day. Online schools will provide students with a pacing guide, but a successful online student uses calendars and planners to map out their day, their week, and their term. If you don’t have a clear plan each day, no one will be there to tell you how to make one.
  • Takes Responsibility. When a student comes to me with excuses for why they are behind in their assignments, that is an immediate red flag. If you choose to be an online student, you are choosing to take responsibility for your learning. Even in a traditional setting, the responsibility for learning course materials is ultimately yours. In an online setting, this is only exacerbated. Taking active responsibility for learning is key to success.
  • Has Discipline. When no teacher is present to hold you accountable, it is very easy to decide to do your school work “later.” A successful online student must have the discipline to get their work done “now.” If you are a perpetual procrastinator, online learning will allow you to procrastinate more. In fact, I often see students who come in, not quite sure “how it got so bad.” Holding something off for a day can quickly become a week or even more. Students who stick to a schedule and get work done each day are more likely to find success.
  • Has a Strong Work Ethic. When you have a checklist of assignments to do for a class, it’s easy to just want to get them done. A successful online student is diligent with the quality of his or her work. In an online world, work turned in is the primary measurement of what you know. If you are a student who is accustomed to rushing through work, you won’t be showing your teacher’s that you’ve mastered the material.

The key to success for students attending online schools are much like the keys to being successful at life. So, if you feel you exemplify these traits, then online learning might be the place for you. But, if you’re not ready, online schools can be a quick and easy way to crash your GPA and end up wasting your time. Be very sure you are ready for an online school, before committing your time and/or money.

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