Earning an online degree can afford one more freedom and flexibility, but the lack of face time with your professors could mean that you’ll have to work even harder to make yourself stand out in class. Making yourself known to your professors is always a good idea for several reasons; you may have an unexpected situation arise that requires an extension for an assignment, you may need a recommendation when you are searching for a job, or you may need extra help to understand particularly difficult material, to name a few. Although it’s a bit more challenging to make an impression on an online teacher, it can definitely be done.
- Introduce yourself. Your professor’s contact information will be made available to you at the beginning of the course. Send him or her a brief note introducing yourself. You may want to include some personal information, such as your background, why you are taking the course, or any other information you feel he or she might want or need to know about you. Including personal information—but not too much!—will help your teacher to remember you.
- Meet deadlines. This is one of the easiest and perhaps most important ways to make an impression on an online professor. When you receive the syllabus for your course, carefully peruse it, make a note of any preset deadlines, and meet them! Turn assignments in early if at all possible. This not only makes a good impression on your instructor, it also allows them time to return it with suggestions for changes, which could help you to improve your grade. If for some reason it is absolutely impossible for you to meet a deadline, notify your professor as soon as you can.
- Ask questions. There will most likely be an opportunity when you meet with your instructor online in a group setting. During these times, be sure to ask questions. As with a traditional class setting, you are most likely to get participation points, so earn them! Contribute your ideas to class discussions and make sure that you clear up any confusion that you may have about the material. One of the great things about an online course is the anonymity that it affords you. It’s less intimidating to ask questions online, and who knows? You may be asking a question that someone else in your class wants to know about, too. If you run into something that confuses you before or after group discussion time, don’t be afraid to send your professor an email about it.
- Be professional. Email and chat are the most common ways that you are going to communicate with your professor and other students in your class. While you may be accustomed to a more informal style of communication with these platforms, this is not the case with online learning. Even if the atmosphere of the course seems to be a relaxed one, this is not the time to use “text speak.” Do not use abbreviations or slang when communicating. And remember that it’s much more difficult to convey tone when communicating in writing, so a seemingly harmless comment that would normally be taken as a joke in a classroom setting could come across as brusque or even rude when put into writing. Think before you speak—er, type.
Online learning may be a nontraditional platform for earning your degree, but the ways to impress your instructor are relatively the same. If you make an effort to introduce yourself right off the bat, submit quality work that’s on time or early, and participate in class, you will be sure to impress your instructor and be a success in your course!