For those stuck in low-paying jobs and a tight employment market, getting a college degree is still one of the best ways to improve income potential. If you're working full-time and want to go back to school, finding time to attend classes is a huge hurdle.
For an increasing number of people, taking online classes is the answer. More than 7 million people take at least one online class, with enrollment steadily increasing every year since at least 2002. Taking an online class means you won't have to spend time commuting and, better still, you can take the class whenever it's convenient to you. You'll have to approach your studies differently with online classes, as they can take a surprising amount of discipline, but using some proven techniques will improve your chances of passing with a good grade:
Your first online class may give you a huge sense of freedom. The entire semester looms in front of you and you can do the work any time you want. The problem with this thinking is that, even if the class is 100 percent virtual, it will still be set up like a physical class. You'll get a syllabus that lays out expected work for each week, along with assignments that may have to be turned in at regular intervals. The only way to complete this workload is to schedule yourself as if you're taking a regular class. Pick a time when you're free from distractions and able to concentrate. Make that your class time once or twice a week. Put it on your calendar and don't deviate until you're finished with the class.
Read through the class expectations as soon as you register, and touch base with your professor as soon as possible. He or she will be able to give you tips on what is expected and guide you in the right direction if you get off course during the semester. In addition, the teacher can point you to study groups that the school may have available exclusively for online students. For example, online college Penn Foster creates a separate online academic group for each class where students can interact with each other, helping each other through difficult parts of the program.
Traditional colleges have two major semesters, plus extra summer classes. Many students use the summer as a chance to take a vacation or spend time with their family. With online classes you don't have to follow this pattern. Schedule the same number of classes each semester during the year. You'll lighten your class load during every semester, making it easier to get through all your classes each year. You'll also continue the habit of getting school work done each week. Taking months off at a time often takes you too far away from the habit of studying, making it difficult to fall back into the groove once again in the fall. A lighter load of year-round classes solves that problem while allowing you to graduate just as quickly.