One of the most important lessons I can share with new grad students is to find a study buddy. With online courses, you will not have the face-to-face contact with your professors and peers, and a majority of your course material will be self-taught through assigned readings and research. This can prove extremely challenging, so it is always helpful to have others to share information and ideas with.
As you progress through your classes, you will start to notice several names that stand out as fellow students are regularly in the same courses as you. A majority of your courses will be comprised of individual assignments, but there will be opportunities to work on group assignments such as research papers. If you have the opportunity to choose your partner(s), try to select from the peers you typically share courses with. You will most likely continue to share a majority of your courses with them throughout the remainder of your graduate program, so you can utilize them again in the future.
I have a few study buddies that I have gained throughout the program, but there is one in particular that I communicate with the most. She and I have similar work ethics and study habits, and so we help each other out equally. When either one of us has a question regarding an assignment or are confused by the material we are trying to learn, we tend to reach out to each other first, especially during nights and weekends, when professors are not as easily accessible. It is also helpful to have someone to talk to about the classes in general, that can understand your excitement or frustrations.
- Don’t be shy! You don’t have to wait for group projects to connect with your peers. You can reach out to your fellow classmates through the email in Engage (the online learning system), and share your contact information from there.
- Your study buddy does not have to live close by. The majority of the population relies on text messaging and phone calls, which is a great way to stay in touch and discuss class work.
- If you have multiple study buddies in the same course, communication apps like Skype work well for conference calls. Video conferencing is not a requirement, and instead Skype offers a call option.
- Utilize websites such as Google Docs to share research during group projects. You can also work on the same document at the same time, rather than emailing updated copies to each other multiple times.
- Find a buddy with similar studying habits as yourself. If you like to start early on assignments, it can be frustrating to try to discuss with someone that waits until the night before to look at the material.
- Keep in touch! A study buddy can turn into a personal friend, or even a networking opportunity for future career moves.