Use Your Summer Wisely

Posted by Kelli McKinney

summer-prep-for-fall-educationIt’s May. You’ve just enrolled in an online degree program starting in August. Now what?

Before you grab the sunscreen and hit the pool, you may want to make sure you’re ready to hit the books this fall.  Your college or department will probably have some specific instructions on getting up to speed. In the meantime, here are some tips you can use this summer to make sure your adjustment to online education is as smooth as soft serve.

Take time with the system

When it’s available, spend some prep time navigating through your class environment. You don’t have to do this all at once. You’ll want to make sure that you know how to do these things before your first class:

  • Access course materials: syllabus, videos, study guides, reading materials
  • Download and print any reference material
  • View, download, and turn in any assignment
  • Take a test
  • Get feedback from a classmate/give feedback to a classmate
  • Ask a question of the class or the instructor
  • Find an advisor
  • Create or join a study group
  • Get system support/technical help
  • Contact your instructor
  • View your grades

Check on financial aid

If you’re receiving military education benefits, grants, scholarships or loans, contact your school’s financial aid office regularly to make sure everything is in order.  Find out:

  • How and when tuition is paid
  • When/if loans are due (when to start paying back)
  • If other fees or books are covered
  • Who to talk to if there’s a problem
  • How to check your account balance


Make time for the work

You’re ready for the first day of class, but are you ready for the next four months of classwork?  Go ahead and block off some time daily or weekly for completing homework and preparing for tests.  A good rule of thumb is to plan three hours of homework each week for every one hour of credit. So for a three-credit course, you’ll want to set aside nine hours of study time. If you have a job or family, start talking with them now about the kind of time commitment you’ll need to make in the fall to be successful in the class.  And make sure you’re designating plenty of time for them too.

Watch the syllabus

When your syllabus is posted, read it. All of it. Mark test dates and homework dates on your calendar. If there are books to download or purchase, the key to saving money is buying them early online. There are bargain booksellers online that may be less expensive than the virtual school bookstore – but again, the key to savings is buying early.

Protect your computer

You’re going to send and receive a lot of files, so you need to make sure you have a security program in place. If you’ve already got one, keep it updated and running.  Not only could a virus knock you out of commission and make you miss an important due date, identity theft is just plain horrible. Don’t risk it – use a good security program. Your school may even have a few that they recommend.

Make a back-up plan

Even the most reliable internet connections can experience outages. But when entire degree programs are conducted via the internet, instructors expect you to have connectivity and they don’t usually take “I couldn’t log in” as an excuse for missing assignment due dates.  Have a back-up study location – a local library, coffee shop, deli, or school, for example – just in case your provider fails.

With a little preparation, you’ll be ready to make a big splash not just at the pool this summer, but also in your classroom this fall.


#militaryeducationbenefits #militarystudents #onlineeducation


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