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Online learning has opened up educational opportunities to adults all over the world. In the U.S. alone, one in every ten students enrolled at a higher education institution is learning exclusively online, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.* An online degree program can give you the convenient, flexible format you need to earn your degree, advance your career, and still balance your busy life. But to get the most out of your online education, you’ll need to relate well to all of your faculty and other academic leaders. Here are some tips that can help you do just that.

Enroll in an Accredited Online College
The first step toward a good relationship with your faculty members is to learn about who they are and what they’ve accomplished. Faculty in an online degree program at an accredited university must be qualified and well prepared with the appropriate academic credentials and industry experience—and that assurance is an important part of your ability to begin establishing a strong relationship.

Introduce Yourself at the Beginning of the Course
You’re a student, not a screen name. Take a moment early on in every course to tell your instructors a little about yourself. Some faculty members set up a getting-to-know-you discussion thread—if they, do take advantage of it. If they don’t and you feel comfortable enough, suggest it yourself. For other courses, you might send an e-mail to introduce yourself. Feel free to share where you’re from, what you hope to get out of the course, why you’ve chosen that particular online degree program, and something about your personal or professional life—it’s even better if that last part somehow relates to the course content.

Read the Syllabus (and Everything Else the Faculty Has to Say)
Your faculty members work hard to create the best possible education through syllabi, online course content, and assignments. Show them you care by reading everything they provide and following all of their instructions. If you have a question, the earlier you ask it, the better. They will appreciate your diligence.

Participate Regularly in Discussions
Online college programs require regular discussions in almost every course. While some faculty members will mandate a minimum number of comments per student, per discussion, you should strive to surpass the minimum. Engage fully with the topic and your fellow students in the discussion. Your instructor will notice and appreciate your effort.

Complete Your Assignments on Time
Nothing damages your relationship with your faculty like missing deadlines. When you don’t turn things in on time, it makes their work more difficult. Meeting your deadlines shows you’re serious about succeeding in the course and in your online degree program.

Communicate With Your Faculty About the Subject Matter
Your faculty members teach the subjects they do because they care deeply about their field of study—and more than that, they’ve often been practicing in their industry for many years, and may be considered renowned experts. You should feel free to contact them if you’d like to discuss the material further. Perhaps you’ve come across some interesting research you want to share or learn more about. Or maybe you would like your instructor to elaborate on personal theories about the subjects you’re studying. Faculty members appreciate students who love a subject as much as they do. Be one of those students.

Say Thank You
You should always thank your faculty members for their time, attention, and support. Everyone likes having their hard work acknowledged, and they are no different. Showing appreciation is a great way to extend the good relationship you’ve worked so hard to build—and create a deeper professional connection that may help further your career goals. Feel free to ask your instructors if they wouldn’t mind staying in touch.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering online bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.


*National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education, “Enrollment in Distance Education Courses, by State: Fall 2012,” on the Internet at http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2014/2014023.pdf.

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.

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