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Top-Three Survival Skills for Thriving Online

Attending online college classes can be like moving to another planet: your chances for survival increase if you're prepared for the environment. It's amazing that many students take right to the online model, as if they've always been distance learners. Others, however, shouldn't attempt an expedition into foreign soil without carrying a basic toolkit.

Mastering an online course requires the same care and dedication that you'd devote to a campus-based class. Here are three essential survival skills for success in the online kingdom:

Read, Read Again, and Re-Read

Everyone who has sent an email and found out later that it was taken out of context by an angry recipient knows that text on a computer monitor carries with it little inflection or nuance. Read all posted materials and assignments carefully. When in doubt, ask for clarification. Since you can't raise your hand and be seen, it's up to you to send an email message before you devote hours to traveling down a blind alley.

Learn Restraint of Pen
On the flip side of skill number one comes the sagely tip to think before clicking on the "send" button. Never fire off a hasty response. Re-read everything you plan on posting to a bulletin board, class discussion group or, especially, in an email to your professor. Remember to check for homophones (their, there, they're) -- words that sound the same, are different, and that spell checkers pass without judgment.

Beware of the Cut and Paste
It's downright simple to highlight text from an online source, copy, and paste it directly into your tests or written assignments. Online students are more prone to this practice than those who read hard copies in college libraries. Read and respect college rules regarding plagiarism. Failure to identify and properly document your sources can earn you a permanent, one-way ticket off the online planet.

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