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The college experience is far more than the actual classes you take and the information you learn: It’s also about forging friendships, learning more about yourself, and broadening your horizons. Regardless of whether you go to a traditional university or an online college, you want to make sure that you get the most out of your educational experience.

As an online college student, your experience will largely be virtual, but that doesn’t mean you can’t share the same types of experiences as students at traditional colleges and universities. Following are several tips to help ensure your online college success:

Know what works best for you. Every online college operates differently. Some online colleges offer online video lectures while others are strictly text-based. If you comprehend better listening than you do reading, you’ll likely want to opt for an online college that offers video lectures rather than strictly text-based courses.

There are also those online colleges that require a period of residency at the school – two weeks every year, for example. Know what type of learning environment you will flourish in and find an online college that meets your needs as closely as possible.

Participate. Participation in online college is just as important as if you were sitting in a classroom filled with students. Participate as much as you possibly can – post questions for your instructor and other students on the message board. Share your insights about the material you’re covering in class. Even if you’re shy, you’re likely to find that opening up in an online setting is much easier than in a traditional classroom.

Participation is likely going to be just as important to your overall college experience as it is to your grades. Many instructors base part of their students’ grades on class participation.

Talk with your instructors. The instructors at your online college are there to help you. If you have questions, ask them. If you have insights, share them.

Get to know your classmates. One of the most important parts of both online college and traditional university is getting to know your classmates and forging new friendships. Join in the discussions on your class’s message board, and if the online college has a message board for all students, drop in for a visit.

Set aside enough time for your studies. Online college offers a few more challenges than traditional college. Because you have so much flexibility and independence, you must be self-disciplined and extremely motivated because your instructor is not going to physically be standing in front of you reminding you that you should be studying or that a paper is due next week. To ensure your success in your online college program, ensure you set enough time aside each day for your studies.

Take only as many classes per semester as you can handle. It may seem like common sense advice, but take only as many classes per semester as you can handle. Start slow, and if you think you can handle an extra class, add it to your schedule the next semester.

You can learn more about Almeda University, a top online college, at their website.