Three Tips for Succeeding in Distance Learning

Handling life and work can be a tricky balancing act at the best of times, and a full-on circus when you throw school into the mix. It sounds intimidating, but it is not impossible; thousands of people do it every day, and you can be one of them. The fulfillment and rewards that come from going back to school are immeasurable, and you will never regret expanding your horizons.

If you’ve decided to go back to school via distance learning, you might be searching for some tips on how to succeed in an online classroom environment. And we are here to help!

1. Know Your Limits

When you first start out, you must be realistic with yourself, your goals, and your expectations. How busy is your life? How flexible is your job? How many classes at a time can you handle? If you have never taken an online course before, consider starting out with one class to get yourself used to distance learning. Speaking with a student advisor at your online school can better help you decide what the best course of action is for you.

Some distance learning schools are structured so that you don’t have to worry about taking more than one class. At Brighton, programs are created specifically for students to take one class at a time with 6-8 weeks to complete it on their own time. This allows for greater flexibility and is perfect for students who have more demanding schedules, but does require strict discipline so you don’t procrastinate!

2. Be Disciplined in Your Studies

Speaking of discipline: all education paths, no matter where you go to school, require a certain degree of discipline to succeed and graduate. Taking your classes online doesn’t change this; in fact, it can require more discipline and accountability than in-person classes! Since you do not interact with your professors or fellow students face-to-face, it can be easy to procrastinate or not make the time to get your work done. Allowing yourself some grace if life gets crazy one of the perks of online schooling, but don’t let it become a habit.

To help stay on track, it’s important to treat studying like a job. This is your education–you are paying for it, and you will get out of it what you put into it. So take advantage of the resources and knowledge your school and professors offer! You are investing in yourself by pursuing further education, and you want a good return on that investment.

3. Engage with the Material

Sometimes, you just don’t have it in you to give your full attention to your classes. You had a long day, a lot of unexpected stress occurred, etc. And that’s normal–nobody can run at 100%, 100% of the time. But don’t let yourself continually go through the motions of your online coursework. As mentioned above, you are paying for this and investing in yourself for a better future; engage with the material!

Do the reading and the homework and ask your professor questions. Occasionally quiz yourself while going over the material, to ensure you are absorbing what’s being taught. Take handwritten notes and organize them in a way that makes sense to you. On the class discussion board, interact with your classmates and write meaningful replies.

Keep these three tips in mind as you start your distance learning journey and you will stay on the road to success. Create strategies that work for you and adapt as necessary. Most of all, never be afraid to ask for help! Whether it’s from your student advisor or your professor, everyone at the school is there to support you.

Interview with Dr. Daniel Marco, Professor at The Paralegal Institute

When starting a new class, meeting the professor can be daunting—you know very little about the instructor, their teaching style, or what their class will be like. If this is true for brick-and-mortar colleges, it can be doubly so for online classes! But there are real people behind the computer screen who are rooting for you to succeed as a student and, eventually, as a professional in your chosen field.

To mitigate some of the apprehension of not knowing your instructors, we did a short interview with one of our paralegal professors. Dr. Daniel Marco is an attorney, and when he is not running his law practice, he is sharing his passion for the law with our paralegal program students. By his own words his second love is teaching, so spoiler alert: He definitely wants you to succeed! His answers will give you insight into what he’s like as an instructor, and a little bit of what you can expect as a student at The Paralegal Institute.

  1. Why did you decide to become an online instructor?

I am an attorney by trade and the practice of law is my calling in life. But I do have a second love and that is teaching. I have a passion for helping facilitating a student’s learning process. In fact, I have lectured at a number of law schools in the US and even at a law school in and a college in China! But the demands of a law practice made anything other than an occasional lecture impossible. About nine years ago I discovered the online education environment and it is an environment that quickly proved perfect for me. It allows me to pick and choose when to work on my practice and when to work on grading assignments and finals. It is just the perfect compromise for me. This also helps me be more empathetic for the time struggles of my students, most of whom work full-time.

  1. What is the best part of being an online instructor for The Paralegal Institute?

The best part of instructing at the Institute is the students. I have many hard-working, bright, and motivated students who are looking for a slight change in the direction of their career. I enjoy their enthusiasm and their no-nonsense approach to the courses. Also, the administrative staff is very helpful. I am not as computer savvy as I once was, computers simply accelerated by me, but the staff is always gentle and patient with me and with my students, they answer my questions and serve the students needs.

  1. Do you have any advice for students who are looking to excel in online classes?

Yes, I do. It’s very simple. Stop. Take a deep breath and relax. Nothing is going to register if you are tense. Always remember what class you are in. What book you are reading. What chapter of the book. And what subsection of that chapter. I always made sure to follow this little meditative process from time to time while studying in law school and for the three Bar Exams I took and passed on the first try each! For example, I might stop every few pages and remind myself that  I am reading the Torts book. I am in the chapter on negligence. I am reading the section on res ipsa loquitur. That is all I have to learn here. Just taking a moment to recall where you are and what you are supposed to be learning will cut back on the noise and, in fact, will streamline your learning process. That is my advice. Since you do not have other students to kick things around with you have to keep tabs on your own focus!

  1. Do you have any advice for people interested in starting a career in the legal field?

Learn to love the law. Learn to explore the grey areas that pop up in every issue. Put aside your judgments of people and the way they act, in the workplace and as your clients, and evaluate everything, according to the law but not until you have thoroughly researched the issue before you. Do not take anything personally. Do not personally attack anyone. If you can do those things, you can’t help but have a successful career as a paralegal and you may want to move on to law school.

While this interview is but a snippet of the wisdom and stories Dr. Marco could share with us about his compelling life and career, we thank him for taking the time to share these answers, and hope they are encouraging to all of our students past, present, and future! It’s easy to say our instructors are invested in your learning, but Dr. Marco’s interview helps illustrate that we truly mean it.

You can check out Dr. Marco’s faculty bio here to learn more about him, and you can visit us at www.theparalegalinstitute.edu to learn more about our paralegal programs!