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Surviving Life as an Online Student

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By Holly Christman
MLS, Reference Librarian

The benefits of going to school online include flexible schedules, little to no transportation costs and being able to do you work in your pajamas at 3 a.m.

That being said, there are some challenges to being an online student. So, how do you get the most out of your college experience when you may never set foot on campus? Here are a few tips to help you survive and thrive in an online environment.

  1. Get Familiar with the Library’s Online Resources!
    Just because you can’t walk into the GCU Library doesn’t mean we don’t have tons of terrific resources for you! As an online student, your digital resources are going to be absolutely pivotal to your success and the library has you covered from scholarly journal articles, eBooks and APA citation guidelines to help from a real librarian via email, chat or phone. And the best part is that the Library’s electronic resources are available 365/24/7! If you need assistance using any online resource, contact the library or sign up for a webinar!
  2. Know Your Syllabus
    The announcement section in your online classroom is great and we know your assignments are what you really want to focus on, but the syllabus is the master list of everything your instructor wants your class to review. Here you will find the course textbook, important links, rubrics for assignments, additional digital materials for the class and your assignments. You can get to the syllabus under the ‘resources’ tab once you are logged into the class.
  3. It’s Okay to Ask for Help
    Contact your instructor, your academic counselor, the library or the tutoring center immediately if you aren’t clear on the instructions for an assignment. Student support is our top priority at GCU! If you ask for assistance right away, you’ll be able to get clarification on the assignment and still have plenty of time to do the work.
  4. Get Organized
    Think you don’t have to take notes because you’re not in class? Think again! Your online classroom still has lectures and other course materials that you are responsible for knowing, responding to or incorporating into your work. So get organized! Take notes on journal articles you read, mark due dates on your personal calendar and keep all downloads and documents saved, organized and clearly labeled so you can be ready to reference them at anytime.
  5. Don’t Get Discouraged!
    As an online student, you have responsibilities that traditional students may not have, which may include a family or a full time job. You are accountable for keeping yourself motivated, on task, meeting regular deadlines and participating in class.  It’s easy to feel overwhelmed with all that going on. Just remember to think about how much you’ve accomplished so far and that you can do anything!