By Donald Ray West, PhD, PE, MBA
Faculty Member, School of Business at American Public University
Having been a student and a teacher in both the online and brick-and-mortar world, I have learned and wanted to share a few basic facts about the resources needed to succeed in both environments.
Tools – Whether electronic or print, textbooks can be expensive but repeating a course is even more costly. Rent or buy the texts. If purchased, mark the text, underlining and highlighting points of value to preserve the thoughts. Often, tests and quizzes will be open book and to be able to find something quickly is of great value.
Motivation – Students need to be able to keep focused and do what is needed without being reminded. Brick-and-mortar schools, in general, have a structure that encourages students to attend classes. In the online world, the student is reminded less frequently about attendance and can more easily lose focus and drift away from the class.
Study Groups – The study group is almost a guarantee of success. Groups of three or four people work best and help students to set aside time to study and learn the course material. Groups sometimes take courses as a team, increasing peer pressure to not fail and fall behind others.
Procrastination – Sometimes students do not complete their classwork. If work is not submitted, grades are not earned. In my experience, students who submit work early are usually the better students. I do not know if this is because they have more time for school work or if by doing the work early they have more time to absorb the material as the lectures or readings progress.
Second Try – Sometimes a student is less than successful in a class. This often leads to the need to repeat a class. That is OK. Do not give up. Good advice to anyone who must repeat is to save your book, notes, tests, and papers. Review the old papers and tests. Also, share with the professor that you are repeating and ask if you can rework and use portions of papers from the first class on the repeat. Do not just submit the paper without this conversation.
Remember these four items: tools, motivation, procrastination, and second tries and you have the basis for a successful academic journey.
About the Author
Dr. West received his Bachelor, Master, and Doctorate in Industrial and Systems Engineering from North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina. A minor in Business from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and a Master of Business Administration from Strayer University in Washington, DC were also earned. In addition to his work at American Public University, he is a faculty member, Applied Engineering Technology at North Carolina A&T University.