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Common Pitfalls of the Everyday Online Student

by Caroline Ross

With the rise of the digital revolution, it seems everything is making the move online. From shopping to work everything can be done remotely with the click of a button. Even schoolwork has made the virtual leap.

Online education has grown increasingly popular over the last decade with more and more courses and programs adjusting their setup and design to be more "distance learning friendly." Many students have jumped at the new offerings, which bring a welcomed change of pace to the more traditional style of learning and studying.

However, with this new form of delivery, students have to alter and adjust their approach to the whole process as well. Sure the main premise is the same-enroll in a class, study the subject matter, ace the tests. But the difference in how the curriculum is taught and how the class is handled can have a huge impact on student performance-and not in a good way.

As with anything that involves change, there's going to be a period of adjustment that might be a bit rocky. That being said, students need to recognize the things they are doing-either inadvertently or consciously that can be hurting their overall online education experience. A list of some of the most common online education mistakes and pitfalls done by the students themselves are listed below.

Procrastinating with Assignments

Before you all correct me, I know this is a problem not related solely to online education. Students have been doing this for years and the habit shows no signs of going away anytime soon. However, the difference in doing this with an online class versus one that meets in person regularly is immense. When you physically go to a class, either your teacher, your classmates or even the environment can help keep the pending assignment or project on your mind. Yet, if you are left to your own devices to log in and just DO this assignment, you run the risk of forgetting about it completely. It's the whole "out of sight, out of mind" dilemma.

So, to prevent yourself from missing valuable grades and receiving zeros or incompletes, do assignments as soon as they're assigned. This way nothing slips through the cracks due to sheer carelessness.

Ignoring Recommended Reading; Problems

Some students have difficulty adjusting to this new format and teachers and professors everywhere understand this. To help make the transition a bit smoother, educators everywhere recommend additional reading or practice math problems to help make the subject a bit clearer. This recommended work can be beneficial for everyone, especially struggling students, yet goes ignored by many. This is a grave mistake as this extra practice can make all the difference in the world when it comes to long-term comprehension. Since you no longer have the luxury of a teacher available instantly for classes, you need to be sure you're doing everything AND THEN SOME to stay ahead of the game.

Disregarding In-Person Meetings, Study Sessions

Another common pitfall seen among students enrolled in online courses is a sheer disregard for any in-person meetings or study sessions available to them. Sometimes these are mandatory, which means missing them could result in an incomplete or "F" for the course. However, even if they aren't required, students should attend, especially if they are having some difficulties with the course work. Meeting in person can clear up any confusion you might have about topics or processes and can simply provide an added element of clarity and perspective.

Connecting with your peers is also beneficial because it gives you someone else besides the professor to lean on and talk to when you have questions about something like an assignment, test date, etc.

Neglecting to Connect With Classmates

I sort of touched on this in the previous entry, but felt it needed its own section. Many students, especially those taking a course within their main field of study, don't realize that they will likely encounter a good majority of their peers somewhere else down the road. It might be in another class, an internship, study abroad program or work-study situation. Bottom line-if you are pursuing the same or similar paths, it is naïve to think this is the one and only time you will meet them. So, why not take the time to get to know them a bit now?

I know that might seem a bit ridiculous considering this course is online, but you can still exchange emails, instant messages, etc., and connect with each other through class discussion boards. It's better to start building your professional network as early as possible, especially because you never know who might be on the other end of an interview or job prospect.

Overall, when you're taking an online class, it all comes down to effort. You really get what you give out of these situations. So, try to go the extra mile and put your best foot forward. Sure, the medium may have change, but the formula for success hasn't. Hard work still conquers all.

Caroline Ross is a freelance writer for several education and career websites, including AccreditedOnlineUniversities.com . In order to inspire and inform people about the importance of education and seeking your calling in life, Caroline writes many articles about preparing for college, career planning and getting the right training for a job.

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Together with the support of my family, my aim is to help parents educate their children in stress-free, nurturing environments. In addition to building and maintaing this website, I continue to create and manage local and national home educating networks, help to organise conferences and camps, as well as write for, edit and produce newsletters, resource directories and magazines. I am an active supporter of national, state, regional and local home education groups.

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We began educating our children in 1985, when our eldest was five. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn since they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. We hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was! Beverley Paine


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