5 Traits of Successful Online Learners

Online learning isn’t for everyone, but there’s an easy and straight-forward way to determine if it’s the right path for you.  If the five characteristics listed below are part of your natural personality, you’ve most likely got a good shot at successfully earning your degree online!

1. Self-Motivation

It probably comes as no surprise that self-motivation ranks high on the list of characteristics possessed by successful online students.  Without regular face-to-face interaction with a professor who will always remind you of upcoming due dates (whether you want to be reminded or not), it’s easy to let responsibilities slide and hand in projects late, or worse, not at all. As there will be little your online professor can do to push you to succeed, the desire to succeed must come from within.  Somehow, an email reminder just doesn’t have the same kind of embarrassing effect as an in-person, sharp-toned slight accompanied by an eyebrow raise mid-lecture when you’ve forgotten to hand in an assignment.

2. Reading Ability

Without listening to regular live lectures, online learning often includes a lot of independent reading.  Whether it’s online message boards, textbook chapters, or pdf packets of information, you can expect that you’ll be spending a fair amount of time intently staring at your reading materials.  If you’re an aural learner who does better listening to lecture, online learning may not be your forte depending on the kind of teaching tools your professor utilizes.  While there may be video lectures and the opportunity to Skype, there will still be a lot of reading you’ll need to tackle each and every semester.

3. Writing Ability

Along the same lines as reading ability, your ability to express yourself via the written word is crucial.  If you’re a person who types slowly or gets frustrated with committing your thoughts to paper, you may find online learning a challenging experience. Much of the online learning platform relies on discussion forums where classmates express opinions and debate their thoughts.  It’s very much like in-person classroom discussions. (Only this version also caters to the introverts who would never otherwise speak up in a traditional classroom environment) You’ll need to make sure that you’re able to communicate clearly and concisely.

4. Resourcefulness

Online learning requires self-motivation, but being motivated only goes so far.  You also need to be exceptionally resourceful.  Unlike traditional classroom learning, online learning doesn’t have a designated time and day of the week where you’re required to be present, so you’ll need to carve out a time and a space on your own and if you’ve got a hectic schedule like most, you’ll need to be creative to do it. Evenings, weekends, at the library, on your lunch break, you might even find yourself asking your first date to quiz you, but what better way to impress a potential mate?

5. Comfort with Technology

It goes without saying that online learning requires you to know your way around a computer and the internet, but you’ll also need to be quick to learn the particular online platform your school chooses to implement.  It may require a semester or two to master, and don’t be surprised if the software updates change the menu you were familiar with and you can’t instantly locate the discussion thread you were logging in specifically to comment on.  Technology can have it’s challenges and online learning is no different.

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