If this strange year is bringing a new you, you are not alone.
While very close to finishing his degree, student Travis Murphy asked on the TESU Mobile app for input on the best way to approach his classes in an online program after returning to school for the first time in a long time. Naturally, students are always eager to step up and assist each other, and the responses offer unique insights.
From effective starter courses to apps that improve your writing, here are some of the most practical pieces of advice from real TESU students:
1. Take a course that acclimates you to online learning and strengthens your academic skills:
“I recently came back to school as well. I started out by taking Critical Information Literacy. It’s required by the University; however, it does not require any proctored exams or textbooks. The course is all about doing proper research for the papers you will have to write in your future classes at TESU.”
2. Install a free writing app to help improve your writing:
“I've found installing Grammarly to Word (it's free) to be instrumental due to all the writing assignments. Also, I aim to complete assignments early to prevent any last-minute technical issues.”
3. Learn the differences between course methods to discover which one works best for your learning style:
“I returned the first time after 20 years, then I quit for another 10 years. (I’m graduating very soon!) I have a harder time with Guided Study classes. You have to write more. I would rather post a paragraph, reply to posts, and receive feedback from instructors.”
- Fernanda Vello
4. Determine the best way to balance your course load:
“The best advice I have is to take 6-9 credits of core classes in the beginning and set aside time to devote to the classes! A strong foundation will definitely make things easier as you progress.”
- Justin Approbato
5. Be patient and proactive when it comes to testing:
“Last month was my first class in 30 years! So if I can do it, you can too. TIP: Don’t get frustrated with ProctorU; it takes time to connect. So patience is imperative. Schedule early because time slots are hard to get in the end.”
6. Come up with a learning routine or plan for yourself:
“What has worked for me - read what the requirements are for that week's or module's assignments. Then read or watch that module's material within the lens of those requirements. Rinse and repeat!”- Anonymous
7. Discuss any degree plans with your academic advisor to ensure alternative credit options will fulfill the requirements of your program:
“Be sure to email academic advising before you take any courses with Sophia, Straighterline, or Study.com. They are affordable. But whichever ones you can take, I definitely recommend them! It's so much faster and cheaper, and they cover the same material.”
8. Review the examples provided in your course dashboard:
“Look for the example assignments posted to announcements and breathe!”- Anonymous
9. Create a schedule and stick to it:
“Take your time, make a schedule, and stick to it. Remember to schedule early for midterms and finals to give yourself wiggle room.”
- Tametha Hill
10. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your mentor about concerns or clarifications:
"Make sure you are vocal about all of your concerns with your mentor. I used to be nervous to reach out for help, but what else are they there for? Also, make sure you create a study schedule or something of that sort. Without a written schedule of your required reading and assignment due dates, it can become overwhelming, and you might lose track of everything.”
- Helen Ambachew
11. Recognize what you can manage:
“Definitely take your time until you get in the swing of things. Find your comfortable course load and roll with it! If you feel yourself getting burned out, take a step back, regroup, and press on!”
We hope you find these student-approved tips useful on your educational journey. To Travis and everyone else returning to college after several years or for the first time, we wish you the best of luck in your academic endeavors!
Note: Some responses have been edited for grammar and/or clarity.
Written by Thomas Edison State University