It’s October. The leaves are falling, the football season is heating up, and midterms are approaching. Not surprisingly, this is the time of year when some students start to fall behind. If you’re attending a traditional ground college, you usually have eight weeks to get caught up. However, if you’re taking an accelerated course at an online university, you don’t have a lot of time to make up missing work. Don’t despair!
According to a recent article in The Guardian, college students today are 5 times more likely to suffer from mental health disorders than college students a decade ago. Depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders can impact a person’s ability to engage in everyday activities. If you’re an online student with a full course load and personal and professional obligations, mental health disorders can be devastating. However, they can don’t have to derail your academic progress. Over the past 7 years, I’ve helped countless students manage their mental health issues and achieve their academic goals. I’ve also pursued two graduate degrees while dealing with acute anxiety and depression.
We’re a few days into a new term, and I’ve already received several emails from panicked students who are terrified about the upcoming writing assignments. These emails don’t contain questions or requests for assistance. They contain professions of inadequacy:
“I’m a terrible writer.”
“I’m not an English person.”
“I’ve never been good at writing classes.”
I get these kinds of emails all the time. Unfortunately, students who email me things like this usually don’t do too well in my course. It’s not that they aren’t capable of putting together a cohesive essay. In fact, many of these naysayers have solid writing skills! They fail because they assume they will; they struggle because they believe they don’t have the ability to succeed.
Last term, I had a student send me a very aggressive email. Using some very choice phrases, he demanded I change his final paper grade, and he accused me of not reading his submission. Needless to say, I didn’t honor his requests.
Unlike some my colleagues, I don’t mind grade appeals. I like it when my students care enough to fight for the grade they think they deserve. However, you have to present your case in the right way. So, if you want to get your teacher to rethink your grade, be sure you do the following things:
Discussion boards are a prominent feature of most online courses. In fact, I’m teaching a Literature & Composition course now, and it that requires students to post to 11 different discussion forums over an 8-week period! Although most classes don’t demand *such* an extreme level of involvement in discussion forums, the majority of online courses do require weekly or biweekly participation.
Here are some common mistakes that you should avoid when writing your first college-level research paper:
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A few terms ago, I had a brilliant student in my English composition class. She actively participated in all the discussion forums, she gave her classmates insightful and encouraging feedback, and she wrote with a passionate elegance. In short, she was an ideal student. About midway through the term, she disappeared without a trace. After weeks of silence, I finally heard back from her advisor: one of the student’s family members had passed away, and she was so distraught that she was unable to concentrate on her classwork. The student tried to make a comeback, but she didn’t have enough time to make up all the missing work.
Sadly, these stories are all too common. Many online students fall off the radar halfway through the term. It usually has nothing to do with their academic abilities. More often than not, students disappear because they encounter unforeseen challenges. Online courses vary in length, but most courses are around 8 weeks long. Although the accelerated format has its advantages, it can make it more difficult for students to rebound after experiencing a setback.
That’s why it’s important to come up with a game plan so you’re prepared to deal with the curveballs that life may throw at you. Here are some of the most common problems you may encounter during your online class and the best ways to deal with them!
A few days before the start of every term, I get an e-mail from some eager student wanting to know how to complete the first writing assignment. I’m usually still in my end-of-term grading haze, but I direct that student to the assignment guidelines and the rubric, and I assure her that she’s always welcome to ask questions. Inevitably, the student e-mails me back. She thanks me enthusiastically, and then, she issues a warning: “I’m going be that student who asks you questions about everything. Just want you to know.” It’s that student, the one who asks questions on a weekly, sometimes even daily basis, who usually ends up being the superstar of the class!