MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR EDUCATION BY…
- Reaching out to your professor ASAP
- Being aware of the support system offered by your school
- Getting familiar with APA format
- Not being afraid to ask questions
- Reaching out to your classmates
REACH OUT TO YOUR PROFESSOR ASAP
If you have been out of school for 10 years or more, it may seem daunting to enter a graduate level education program—but it’s not an uncommon scenario. One of the best things a student in this situation can do is reach out to their professor at the beginning of class and make them aware of their situation. Its also a good idea to ask for their advice on how to handle the class and what to focus on. This can really set the tone for your first class. The professor, knowing you are brand new, will have a better perspective on you and your work and will be able to provide proper feedback and guidance to you throughout your first class.
BE AWARE OF YOUR SCHOOL’S SUPPORT SYSTEM
Schools typically have support system in place to help their online students who may need some extra guidance. Typically, some type of online or phone based ‘success center’ is set up to help students thrive in this new environment. Students can use this resource to get help with anything from formatting paper to finding financial aid. It’s important to ask your admissions representative what types of resources are available. Make sure that you are prepared with the proper contact information before you begin class so you have your options right at your fingertips whenever you need them.
GET FAMILIAR WITH APA FORMATTING
Different disciplines often use different methods of citations and paper formats, but for master’s degree programs, APA is the most common. Before getting busy with the course material, familiarizing yourself with the format of that information can be a useful way to minimize the stress of transitioning back into the academic atmosphere. While APA is most common, other formats can also be valuable to brush up on. Check with each of your professors to make sure you’re practicing the right ones.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK
Don’t hesitate to ask for clarification if you don’t understand something. The professor will typically have posted office hours and other preferred methods of communication. Make sure you are familiar with these and utilize them if necessary. If you aren’t clear about an assignment or concept, don’t hesitate to ask!
REACH OUT TO YOUR CLASSMATES
Online classes typically start with introduction in an online forum. You’ll get to see a little bit about your professor and your classmates, and you’ll share a bit about yourself. Look for a couple of students you have commonality with and start to network. Comment on their introductions. This can set the stage for future communication. It’s common that classmates in a course section can email each other within the course. Don’t be afraid to use the internal messaging system if you feel you’d benefit from another perspective. Many schools often have a forum within each course section where students can discuss things. This is a great opportunity to jump into conversations with your classmates and make some allies that may prove mutually beneficial through your program. It’s also a great place to ask things like, “Having a tough time finding an article for this week’s assignment, anyone have any suggestions?”
Getting back into the swing of things can be tough, but there are some easy ways to make a smooth transition. Check out some of our other tips for online learning.