5 Things You Should Do Before Starting Your Online Course

Be Organized Before You Learn Online

It is so easy to learn just about anything online now. Sign up and you are good to go. Or are you? Many online students drop out because they weren't quite ready to go back to school in a serious way. The following five tips will help you be sure you are organized and committed to succeeding as an online student.

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Set High, SMART Goals

Success - Westend61 - Getty Images 76551906
Westend61 - Getty Images 76551906

Michelangelo said, "The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark."

If you think about that sentiment as it relates to your own life, the thought is pretty stunning. What are you capable of doing that you haven't even tried?

Set your goals high and stretch. Dream! Dream bigger!

People who write down SMART goals are more likely to achieve them. We'll show you how: How to Write SMART Goals.

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Get a Great Date Book or App

Brigitte Sporrer - Cultura - Getty Images 155291948

Whatever you want to call yours—a calendar, date book, planner, mobile device calendar app, whatever (I have a friend whose husband calls hers "her damn book" because her entire life is in it)—get one that works the way you think.

You can get date books or organizers in small, medium, and large sizes, formatted with daily, weekly, or monthly pages, and stuffed with extras like note pages, "to do" pages, address sheets, and sleeves for business cards, to name only a few. Online apps have all the same things in digital versions.

Find a date book or app that fits your lifestyle, fits in your book bag if it's not digital, and accommodates all of your activities. Then use it.

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Schedule Study Time

Image Source - Getty Images

Now that you have a great organizer, schedule time in it for studying. Make a date with yourself, and don't let anything else take priority, unless, of course, someone's safety is at risk. Your date with yourself is your first priority.

This works for exercise time, too. Put it on your calendar, and when you receive an invitation to go out for dinner with friends, you're sorry but you're busy that night.

In this world of instant gratification, we need discipline to meet our SMART goals. A date with yourself helps you stay on track and committed. Make dates with yourself and keep them. You are worth it.

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Create Study Spaces...That's Right, Plural!

Student in library - Bounce - Cultura - Getty Images 87182052
Bounce - Cultura - Getty Images 87182052

Create a nice, cozy study space for yourself with everything you need: computer, printer, lamp, room to write, beverage coaster, closing door, dog, music, whatever makes you comfortable and ready to learn.

And then make another one somewhere else.

Okay, not the same kind of space, few of us have that kind of luxury, but have in mind some other places you can go to study. Research shows that varying your study space helps you remember because you associate the space with the learning. Makes sense.

If you always read in the same place, there are fewer distinguishing factors to help you recall.

Do you have a porch? a quiet reading rock in the woods? a favorite chair in the library? a coffee shop down the street?

Have a few places in mind where you can go to study. Some people like white noise. Some like perfect quiet. Others need roaring music. Discover where you like to study and how you like to learn.

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Adjust the Size of Your Screen Font

Justin Horrocks - E Plus - Getty Images 172200785
Justin Horrocks - E Plus - Getty Images 172200785

If you're a nontraditional student over 40, and many of us are, you more than likely have a little trouble with your eyesight. I juggle several pairs of glasses, each one designed to see at a different distance. (Lens Options for People Over 40!)

If this sounds familiar to you, and one of your struggles is reading your computer screen, I can help, and it doesn't involve buying a new pair of glasses. If you can't read your screen, you can't succeed in an online course.

You can change the font size on your screen with a simple keystroke!

To Increase Text Size Simply press Control and + on a PC, or Command and + on Mac.

To Decrease Text Size Simply press Control and - on a PC, or Command and - on Mac.

Happy studying!