At ACU, we want you to be the best student you can be. Here are some of our top tips for succeeding as an online student.
Get the Right Tools
First things first. If you’re taking courses online, you’ll need the right tools and technology. While requirements for each class differ, our ACU Online Handbook suggests that you have access to a computer with high-speed internet and the ability to open and send Microsoft Office files (Word, Excel, PowerPoint).
You’re also required to use your ACU email address for all things course-related. To minimize the number of accounts you must check—and to avoid delays in important information—we suggest forwarding your acu.edu address to the account you check most frequently. Additionally, your myACU portal is where you can access course information, your academic status, and more.
ACU also provides live technical support to our online students; you can reach us at 1-888-426-1698.
While so much of our lives is ruled by technology, don’t be afraid to try a more analog system. Since most of your course materials and messages will live in an online system and within email, it may benefit you to have something right in front of you at all times. This could be a daily planner, a wall calendar, or a whiteboard. Printing out a copy of your syllabus may also be a good idea, so you can track your progress. Whether you’re using paper or an app, though, find a system that keeps track of what’s due when.
Also, think about how you’ll manage, save, and store your actual work, such as research papers or shorter writing assignments. Create folders (on your computer) for each class, and subfolders where appropriate. And to avoid losing files, consider saving a copy in a cloud-based system, such as Google Drive or DropBox.
Find the Time
As an online student, you have the advantage of working on your schedule. This benefit, however, can also lead to challenges. Having more greater flexibility may also require better time management. Everyone’s schedule and internal clock is different. Maybe you prefer getting up at dawn so you can get homework done before leaving for the office. Or maybe you’re a night owl and prefer to work once everyone in the house has gone to bed. Find blocks of time that work best for you, and stick to this schedule.
Find Your Space
Some people may be able to work anywhere, but it truly does help to have a quiet, clean, comfortable space dedicated to your schoolwork. If you already have a home office, great. But if you don’t have an extra room with a permanent desk, find the next best thing. Remove yourself from distractions—whether from a TV set or from another person. If you’re working on research, you may want a place with a clear, ample surface so you can spread out. So claim a nook that fits the way you like to work and study. Ideally, this space will have a door you can close, but if not, try to set clear boundaries with family or housemates.
Communicate with Facilitators
Communicating is important to your success academically and personally. If you don’t understand something on the syllabus or in an assignment, be sure to reach out to your instructor for help before the due date. If you have travel scheduled during a course, let your instructor know ahead of time so you can plan accordingly. And if you become ill or experience anything else that may affect your work, also let your instructor know. Being honest and keeping instructors aware of issues maintains your relationship and will help keep you on track.
Connect With Others
You may not be with others physically in a classroom, but you will have classmates. Since this is graduate school, you’ll also be surrounded by people who have years of personal and career experience to share. Get to know your classmates through online discussions and other interactive venues. Learning from and sharing with one another helps make for a more fulfilling ACU Online experience.
Take Advantage of Resources
ACU’s Margaret and Herman Brown Library offers some of its services online, such as scholarly journal databases. This is a convenient and valuable resource for research papers and projects. If you live near the ACU campus, remember that you’re always welcome to visit the library in person. Also, your student services representative and academic advisors are dedicated to your academic and spiritual success. Reach out to them when you have questions.
To recap, there are many ways to prepare for success as an online student at ACU. From getting set up with the right tools to setting boundaries between your school, work, and personal life, these tips will help you flourish as you work toward your graduate degree.
If learning online sounds ideal for you, we’d be happy to talk with you more about how ACU may be right for you. Contact us today about becoming an online student.