A lot of folks ask me what it takes to be successful in an online class in herbal medicine, aromatherapy, or holistic nutrition. I spend a lot of time working with our graduates: I'm in charge of employer surveys and alumni outreach as part of our Outcomes Assessment and Institutional Improvement and Strategic Plans. Plus I teach Nat 306. So I get to pick up tips on what helped our graduates be successful in their online degree or certificate program in holistic health. Some of these skills fall under the obvious category but bear repeating, others may require you to do some personal goal setting activities. (More on that in another blog post!)
At ACHS, we cater to every skill level, whether you code for fun or just use your computer for email! Even if you're a wee bit unsure about this online thing, we give you tons of tips to make the most of your natural talents and cultivate the blend of study skills, equipment, and personal attributes needed to become an online learning guru...
That said, there are some basic skills and equipment you need. After all, you wouldn't try to build a chicken coop without a hammer and nails…
1. A reliable computer, tablet, or other internet ready device
If you've been limping along using Dos, there is good news: Computers keep getting cheaper! Google just released a laptop that’s just $199! We don't recommend students rely on borrowing computers or heading to the local library. While that can work in the short term, long term you need to be able to save your notes and work on your class whenever you have a spare hour. Consistently working on your classes is the key to success!
2. Regular internet
You don't have to be online constantly to study at ACHS - our eTextbooks can be downloaded in PDF for offline viewing on your computer, Nook, iPad or even your smart phone. But, lack of internet access will make taking an online course a real challenge! We love Starbucks and it serves as a mobile office for thousands of folks across America, but unless you can tune out all the distractions, it may not be the best place to take an entire online class. Good news: Internet access is cheaper than ever. Call your phone or cable company! Some cities even have free wifi! If you're stuck living in the middle of nowhere there's Satellite internet that is pricey but keeps getting faster.
3. Basic Computer Skills
Being comfortable using a computer to send email, shop, and research for information online gives you a head start. If you can shop online you can use our user friendly online classroom platform.
Being self motivated and able to work independently helps when you're taking a distance learning class. Frankly I think it takes less self-motivation to drag yourself upright in bed and reach for your iPad than to have to drive, park, and get into a on-campus classroom, but maybe thats just me ;) ACHS's courses run in cohorts: This means that you are in your virtual classroom, in the module for that week, at the same time as the rest of your class. And there are no more than 35 of you if you are undergrad, or 20 if you are a graduate student. That means you can really get to know your classmates and your instructor and you'll have lots of motivation and support. But even so, being self started helps you become a successful graduate.
5. Its All About Finishing
Yes the journey is amazing, but you have to finish a College class to get the most benefit. So do you usually complete the things you start? Awesome! We know that life happens: Kids and cats get sick, spouses slack off on cooking dinner on their assigned days, and the basement floods. All on the same day in my house. Learning to keep on keeping on regardless of life's challenges is a skill that will help you complete your program at ACHS. These are skills that we can help you learn, but you need to be committed and that’s a decision only you can make.
6. Social Skills
You don't need to be a social butterfly to be successful but online learning gives you lots of opportunity to make new friends. Your fellow students are going to become your friends, and you'll be able to chat with them via email, discussion threads, online chat, video chat (totally optional), or our Private Student Network MyACHSConnect. The more you engage, the more fun your classes will be. If you're not yet using online tools to connect with like-minded people, you’re missing out! Its easier than it sounds and we're here to help you.
7. Have the Time to Study
The number one reason students get turned down for admission at ACHS is lack of time to study. You need an average of nine hours per week to spend studying, completing projects, and reading, whether its an hour per day plus two in the weekend or 4.5 hours Saturday and Sunday. Its an online class, so you have to study. No way around it: Studying takes time! There is a bell curve on how much time each class and each week in class will take - some will be easier and you'll whiz through, others will have you scratching your head and headed for the extra reading or video lectures! Don't panic if that happens - if we only taught you easy things, you wouldn't be getting your money's worth!
If you're not sure if you have time or not, this week, log how you spend your time each day. Then at the end of the week, highlight how you spend your time:
- Work related required activities
- Exercise time and other important self care
- Family time and family obligations
Now analyze your data. What activities could you convert to study time? Could you spend your TV time watching lectures? Could your reading time be spent reading a textbook? Could your family time be cleaning the junk food out of the refrigerator and shopping for organic greens at your local farmers market (yes that might be the basis for a weekly assignment!), or could your self care time be creating a stress relief aromatherapy blend and taking an aromatic bath with it (yes that’s an assignment too!)
Now, you’ve got that information, you can use it to chat with one of our admissions advisors about how you could carve nine hours a week out of your week. Maybe you can, and maybe you can’t. But at least you’ll have an idea of what to work towards if you decide to return to school in the future.
8. Do you have a reason for taking the class? Motivation Part 2
We sound like beginning actors, but what's your motivation to take an online class? For work? To improve your own health? To cook healthier meals for your family? Having a reason makes it much easier for you to succeed!
Can't think of any reason to take an online class? That probably isn't going to be super motivating. It sounds like you might just want to tke some more time to figure out your motivation. In the meantime, you can subscribe to our blog, watch some of our great free movies on our YouTube channel, and download some free eBooks to live a healthier life!
So, if you've read this far and think you're a great candidate for online education ... what next? Does that mean ACHS is right for you? What should you consider when picking an online school? Please join us for a fun 20 minute webinar that covers all the burning questions you most likely have about ACHS and going back to school. Or, call one of our helpful admissions advisors.
But thats for another day! For now thats enough study talk … go take a break and skype a friend or buy some groceries online …