6.5 million American students took an online course last year. That number has steadily increased each year. Nursing students are notoriously busy, which makes online learning an attractive option.
Are you prepared for all that online learning entails?
Taking an online course is very different from being in class or in the lab. There’s no one making sure you’re paying attention. It’s a test of your ability to manage your time.
With so many students going this route, there’s a lot of data on what works and what doesn’t. Keep reading for 7 tips to succeed in your online nursing program.
1. Don’t Assume It’ll Be Easy
Many students incorrectly assume that online classes will be easy. After all, you choose when you want to work on it. And, it’s only reading the textbook and watching videos, right?
Go into this online nursing program knowing it’s convenient, but not easy. You will have to teach yourself a new style of learning. Students must hold themselves accountable and take the initiative to study.
People who are kinesthetic learners may struggle with online courses. They’re very reading-heavy along with videos and live chats. You’ll be sedentary for the entire time.
Online learning forces students to become self-disciplined. If you don’t study and make yourself focus, you could fail.
2. Connect with Other Students
Online learning sometimes lacks the social community found in classrooms on campus. If you’re someone who needs this interaction, go out of your way to find it.
Your online program will have many students from all over the country logging in. Consider reaching out to them to see if any live in your city. Create in-person study groups with fellow students.
When the course has live chats and discussions, make sure you join in. The students that stay silent don’t do as well as the ones that participate. This is also how you’ll make connections with other students.
3. Create Organizational Systems
It can be a struggle to transfer your in-person study skills to an online course. You normally take notes as the teacher talks. Now, the teacher may be a video, textbook, or live chat.
You need to create organizational systems that work for you. For example, take notes online by splitting the screen in half. Apps like Microsoft OneNote and Evernote make this easier.
Or, continue to take notes on paper. Whether you prefer digital or paper, it’s crucial you have a calendar for course dates. Knowing when things are due allows you to work on them in advance.
4. Schedule Study Time
Nurses are always busy. They have classes, practicums, part-time jobs, and studying to balance. You have to learn how to handle stress and work through it.
This is why scheduling your time is so important.
Consider schedule blocking. Using a planner or Google Calendar, enter all the different things you’ll be doing this week. When can you block off time for your online course?
Remember, the more you review, the better you’ll do. Try and schedule frequent study blocks. And, start studying for a test as soon as you know about it.
Cramming is not a successful study habit. You will get better grades and stay sane if you plan, schedule, and work a little every day.
5. Connect with the Professor
When you need help with an in-person class, you go to your teacher after class. Or, you visit during their office hours. In an online course, it’s a little trickier.
Start the course by connecting with the teacher through email. Let them know who you are and why you’re taking this course.
Then, ask what the best way to ask questions about course material is. When do they prefer you call or email? How long will it take to get a response?
You may find that professors for online programs don’t answer questions right away. You could wait a few days for clarifications, or you can take initiative. Message other students, talk to your practicum adviser or do more research.
The important thing is to find help when you need it. Don’t go through the whole course not understanding the material in module one.
6. Meet the Technical Requirements
Since your class is online, you need excellent internet access. This is easy for most students that live in a city. But, if you live in rural areas or are traveling, it could be a challenge.
Before starting the course, ensure you can meet the technical expectations. Secure a study space that has WIFI, or buy a mobile hotspot. You may also need a webcam, microphone, or other devices.
Consider using the free internet at your local library or college campus. Many cafes also have internet for customers. If meeting the technical requirements is a struggle, plan your solutions in advance.
7. Find Your Study Space
Your environment affects your mood and productivity. When you’re surrounded by clutter and mess, your brain will feel chaotic and unfocused. If the people around you are having fun or relaxing, you won’t want to study.
Instead, find your perfect study space.
Find a place that is quiet, clean, and has internet. You may prefer white noise around you, or you might want silence. Consider a library or co-working space where the people around you are focusing.
You also need to make sure your study set-up is ergonomic. As a nurse, you know the toll this career takes on your body. Poor ergonomics when studying can jump-start that toll.
Sit at a desk with a straight posture. The computer screen should be at eye level in front of you. Your elbows and knees should stay bent at 90 degrees.
Creating a comfortable and ergonomic study space will make you more productive.
Ready to Start Your Online Nursing Program?
It’s not a surprise that so many students are choosing online courses these days. They offer convenience so you can fit everything you want to do in your schedule.
But, adjusting to your online nursing program may take some time. To make it easier, follow the tips above. Make connections with the teacher and other students; plan everything.
For more information on your nursing program and trends in the industry, check out the Articles and Resources Page.