Whether you’re beginning an online degree program or starting another new term, these tips will help you put your best foot forward.
Thinking back to your middle school math class, you may recall that the Greek mathematician Pythagorus had a thing about right triangles.
But you might not know that Pythagorus also had a bit of a thing about right feet.
While ancient Greeks, in general, thought it was unlucky to enter a house or room with the left foot, Pythagorus taught that it was necessary to put one’s sandal on the right foot first.
“When stretching forth your feet to have your sandals put on, first extend your right foot,” he wrote.
While the origin of the contemporary phrase “get off on the right foot” may or may not derive in part from this ancient superstition, today we all want to start new relationships, new journeys and new ventures on the right foot.
And that includes your new online degree program.
1. Embrace the discomfort.
Trying anything new including an online degree program can be unnerving. Give yourself time to become acclimated – to develop confidence in navigating the online environment and adjust to a study routine.
2. Study your syllabus.
Reading the syllabus for each course you are taking helps you understand what is required of you ahead of time. Note important details such as due dates for weekly assignments and major papers so you can stay in front of your workload. Plan to complete quick or easy assignments first so that you have ample time for the more challenging or time-consuming ones.
3. Coordinate calendars.
Check your work calendar and your family calendar for the coming eight weeks. Note major commitments such as business trips or conferences, or any important dates for your children’s school or sports team, so that you can plan your time accordingly and avoid conflicts with assignment deadlines.
4. Set priorities.
Making time to complete coursework requires sacrifice. Which daily tasks are immovable and what activity can you do without so that you can build more time into your day? Make a list of tasks and number them in order of importance.
5. Muster support.
If you have children, it may be easy for you to ask for help from a spouse, family member or friend so they don’t miss team practices or school events when you need extra time for coursework. But don’t forget that you need emotional support as well. Make sure there’s someone you can call for encouragement when you need it and to share good news when you achieve success.
6. Familiarize yourself with available academic resources.
Know who to call for assistance with issues such as technical challenges, online library resources and tutoring. Your student advisor is a great starting point; he or she can tell you about all the academic and student services your school offers.
7. Create a study space.
Having a consistent space where you can study that is comfortable and conducive to your learning style is critical. Are you vulnerable to noise and distraction? Do you need quiet? Designate a private space where you can concentrate and keep all of your tools and resources handy.
8. Meet your professors.
Start the term by making sure you know the best way to reach each instructor. Does he or she prefer email or keep virtual office hours? Communicate in a timely fashion – don’t wait if you have a question or don’t understand a concept or an assignment. Your professors are always willing to answer questions.
9. Create good habits.
Commit to logging in to your coursework and checking your school email daily, reading discussion posts in a timely fashion, and staying ahead of required reading.
10. Think positively.
Research shows that when we are positive, our brains are 31 percent more efficient. That’s because the same chemical that is released in our brains when we are happy and positive also speeds up our thinking and mental alertness. Staying positive will help you be more successful.
The most important part of a new venture
As you start your new term, you might recall what the first day of school felt like as a child. Wearing new clothes. Toting a new book bag or backpack. Walking into a new classroom.
There was something powerful about that first day – it was an opportunity to start off on the right foot.
But why the emphasis on a strong beginning?
In his famous dialogue, “The Republic,” another ancient Greek philosopher, Plato, explained it this way:
“The beginning is the most important part of the work.”
Wishing you a great beginning starting off on the right foot!
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