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Consult Student Services Before Starting an Online Degree : For students embarking on their online education experience, being proactive from the start is key.
One way to do that is to take advantage of student services before you start your online classes. Most universities offer a variety of support services to ensure that online students easily transition into managing their coursework – especially on top of work and family responsibilities – and planning for their futures.
Here are three steps to take to connect with support staff before starting your online coursework.
1. Contact tech support about requirements: Technology is a critical component of online learning.
A few common items that most online programs require include a standard laptop or desktop computer, high-speed internet and at least two web browsers. Contacting tech support ahead of time will help ensure that your devices meet the minimum requirements for a specific program. This will be particularly important for classes that include face-to-face videoconferencing sessions.
If you have any questions about your online program’s technical support, it’s best to reach out to the department at least a week before courses begin. Many schools also have a support team that provides 24/7 assistance for online students, should any issues arise once the semester starts.
2. Reach out to an academic adviser: Academic advisers are trained to know all of your online degree requirements and can assist with planning your online courses in an appropriate sequence. Thinking about a course road map can be particularly challenging for online students, because they may only be able to take one or two classes at a time due to their busy schedules.
The extensive course knowledge an academic adviser offers can be very helpful when thinking long term. Once you’ve determined the degree path you are most interested in, working with the academic adviser can help you understand how best to complete your degree within a manageable time frame.
In fact, you can direct most university-related questions to advisers; if they don’t have the answer, they will point you to an available resource that does.
3. Talk to career services: Online students often seek avenues for quick career advancement or opportunities to change fields, and a career services counselor can provide a wealth of knowledge and advice on ways to get there.
Many schools have career and professional development services, including year-round support for online students, designed to strengthen their job search skills, help them build resumes, enhance their interviews skills and more. These experts can also help with career planning and determining the types of jobs you may pursue with your degree.
ASU Online at Arizona State University, for example, offers virtual career advising appointments to ensure that students receive a face-to-face connection. Other services that online programs offer may include virtual career workshops, resume reviews, virtual practice interviews, online chats with a career professional and access to downloadable handouts.
The takeaway: Taking advantage of your online program’s student services before starting classes may feel like a significant time commitment, but it’s worthwhile. Becoming familiar with tech support, advisers and career counselors will provide a well-rounded support system while you pursue an online education.
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