Distance Learning Classes –

Do you remember when you were a child and August rolled around and it was time to go school shopping? There’s something inherently exciting about getting ready for a new learning experience, whether it was buying colored pencils for third grade or getting ready to enter the world of advanced learning.

Besides buying your textbooks, there are several things you’ll need to prepare to earn your college degree online.

Once you’ve signed up for your online class, you’ll be sent a course syllabus and book list. It is recommended to purchase your books early and perhaps even read the first two chapters in order to be prepared for your first assignment and class interaction. Nearly all online institutions have a virtual bookstore where you can purchase the physical textbook or download the ebook. For actual textbooks, it is recommended to search an online discount bookstore (such as alibris or CampusBooks) for cheaper editions.

Stock up on printer paper and ink cartridges, especially if you are planning to print your ebook for easier reading. A lack of supplies on your part does not constitute an emergency on your instructor’s part, meaning your grade will be docked for each assignment you don’t turn in, regardless if you ran out of paper or ink.

If you are taking an online correspondence class, you’ll need to utilize a computer and printer to type and print your assignments. Correspondence classes still utilize snail mail, so access to a post office might be useful, especially if you require a receipt or confirmation of delivery. It is recommended to keep a log of when you mail each assignment, so that you can follow up with your professor if too much time has passed before he/she confirms receiving your work. Typically, your instructor will either contact you through email/snail mail if necessary, but typically, assignments and notes are returned via U.S. mail.

Online courses obviously require the student to have 24-7 access to a computer with basic programs and internet access, as well as a valid email address. Keep in mind that systems/software that are too old may create problems with your course communications. Depending on the class, you may need to purchase or download web-based software as well. First and foremost, though, you need a basic understanding of computer software, the internet, and printers. 90% of your coursework will require computer work, so you need to be comfortable using one in order to be successful in your classes. Additionally, you should be comfortable using the Copy & Paste feature as many instructors will not accept attachments for fear of viruses and worms. As a side note, if you are planning on working on your classes while at your job, be aware that many companies apply firewalls that block online learning class sites or monitor their ISPs for visits to non-work related web pages.

Before signing up for classes, check to make sure there are no required prerequisites. Many degree programs have an order to the class flow that all students should abide by. Additionally, taking classes out of order will most likely lead to comprehension problems with the material and poor overall grades. If a prerequisite is recommended, it means that there are certain skills a student should have before taking the class. For example, those pursuing a math degree should already have taken (high school) classes in algebra, geometry, calculus, and trigonometry. It is essential to ensure that you actually need a prerequisite. If you have taken the class and later realize you did not need it, there will be no refund for your time, money, or energy.

Finally, prepare a place where you can do your school work with minimal interruptions. It doesn’t matter if you do your coursework at home, a coffee shop, a library, or somewhere else you feel comfortable working, just make sure there is plenty of room for your books, your notes, and a computer. And feel free to listen to music, chew gum, and wear a hat in “class” as your study time is your own.

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