From a student’s perspective, there is perhaps no other skill that is more important than learning how and where to access information. This skill is critical because applying it successfully will help the student to become more efficient and effective – thereby freeing up more time to fulfill other time obligations even while achieving better grades. More importantly, as one enters the workforce, he or she will continue to access information. It is important therefore to know what constitutes good information, and how best to get it.
How and where to find academic resources online. Academic resources can be found in a variety of places. A college library is often the most important resource for accessing research journals, although many public libraries carry some such resources. In the case of a distance learning college, students may not have access to a physical library, and may have to approach a local college in order to determine whether that library is open to public use. If not, there are resource exchange programs that some public libraries take part in that will allow borrowing of a book from a distance (although utilizing this option calls for planning). The Internet is also a very good resource. Here, one has to be careful what information is accessed. Research journal sites, such as JSTOR, are good options because they allow the student to access archived resources upon payment of a fee.
Navigating the University Library. In order to get around the college library, one must be familiar with its layout and its resources. Generally, libraries have reference, book, and periodical areas. Once one learns where these are located, one needs to understand the library’s numbering system and the search system in order to quickly find resources. The librarian help desk is a good resource to get started in any new location visited. In searching for information on the Internet, as with the library’s automated search system, one should boil the information one seeks down to a central point and search for key words that are likely to point to that information (Carter, Bishop, Cravits, 2002, pp. 259-264).
Evaluating the strength and bias of a source. To determine whether a resource is useful, one should ask what is the source, how the argument is presented, and whether the information is properly documented. This skill is particularly important when accessing information on the Internet. One can also feel confident when accessing online resources from a qualified archival service. Upholding Academic Honesty
A student’s has a number of responsibilities, including to himself, his college, and academic integrity. Cheating does not only hurt the student, it hurts the college and other students. It is critical to do one’s own work and to follow established processes to ensure integrity is enforced. Such processes include not plagiarizing, properly citing resources, following school rules, and maintaining honesty in one’s work in a way that is conducive to learning. This is particularly important in a distance-learning environment, where one may not meet teachers face-to-face and the honor system is stressed. Developing Effective Study Skills
In order to properly study for courses, one must prioritize all activities in one’s life. One must first view oneself as a full-time student. All activities must revolve around a desire and goal to succeed as a student (Carter, Bishop, Cravits, 2002, pp. 49-79). Once this determination is made, one will be willing to put in the time to learn, with the goal of truly processing information so that its contents and applications become part of one’s nature. In a distance learning environment, this concern is even more important, because the student must be accountable to the demands of the course even when there is no student of teacher support system physically present daily to remind one to study. Therefore one must use such methods as the SQ3R system in order to break study times down into useful pieces so that information is learned and not just memorized for a test. Managing Time Wisely
Managing time while a student is crucial. Part of the maturation process is learning social skills and building networking skills that will be utilize throughout life – so a student cannot simply spend every moment studying. In order to effectively juggle the different responsibilities that a student has, one must prioritize activities according to goals and desires. Generally a week timeframe is acceptable for outlining activities (Covey, 1994). One must decide which activities in a week must be done on which days and what the level of urgency is for each. These levels are determined by deciding how one’s values, grades, lifestyle, and relationships are affected (Carter, Bishop, Cravits, 2002). Many time wasters can be cut out or postponed in order to make way for activities that must be done to maintain a good grade or meet a financial of family obligation. Setting and Achieving Goals
In setting goals and living by them, one must first begin by outlining what values one wants to live by. The goals should then be broken down into type, with career goals, educational goals, relationship goals, spiritual/personal goals, and the like (Covey, 1994). The goals should be ordered to make one a whole person and to help one achieve the study objectives set out for the short and long terms. One should set down mid range goals that will lead to success in achieving the longer term goals that will largely determine how one succeeds (Mayer, 1995). A distance-learning program can help one achieve goals because it allows for flexible scheduling and succeed-at-one’s-on-pace progress. His allows students to work on many aspects of life at once, and to fit the educational goals into a broader scheme of life advancement. However, without an effective goals setting program and skill development to pursue those goals, the program – any program, for that matter – can be all potential without realization. In order to realize the true benefits of this degree program, the student must, therefore, work toward goals while not wasting time (Carter, Bishop, Cravits, 2002).
Carter, Carol, Joyce Bishop, and Sarah Kravits. (2002). Keys to college studying: Becoming a lifelong learner. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. Covey, Steven. (1989). The 7 habits of highly effective people: Powerful lessons in personal change. New York: Fireside. Covey, Steven. (1994). First things first. New York: Fireside. Mayer, Jeffrey. (1995) Time management for dummies. Foster City, CA: IDG. Robbins, Anthony. (1986). Unlimited power. New York, Fawcett Columbine.