In a business class I was once told that things are always going to take longer and cost more than you plan, so plan on it. I kind of forgot about that, but then noticed that it was coming true again and again. I don’t think it helps either that I have tendencies towards distractions. While I’m learning how to minimize distractions and more effectively estimate the time it will take to complete a task. I am also more realistic now about committing to things. When considering getting your online education take into account these several aspects that will affect the amount of time it will require to complete what you start.  If you do you may just avoid an unexpected and potentially frustrating experience.

While everyone is going to cruise through online classes at different paces, there are some general rules about how long you’re going to need to spend to succeed. Start with a 16 week course. If you sign up for 4 credit hours you can roughly expect to be studying 12 or more hours a week for that class. If the class is an accelerated one, doubling this estimate for amount of time per week is appropriate. This is why it’s often suggested for students taking accelerated online courses to do one at a time, it’s a part time job in and of itself.

How are your reading skills? If you are weak in this area, you may have to add a couple more hours to the above calculations. I’m a fairly slow reader, but I can make up for it in my typing strength. If you are a slow reader, consider taking an accelerated reading class. They will teach you techniques to dramatically improve the way you read. It will most likely be uncomfortable at first, but as you go along it will become second nature to you. Practice it often and you can cut down on the amount of time you spend studying each week.

In additional to general study time you should consider your proficiencies in the areas of typing, research, computer technology and in paper composition. If you don’t have much experience in one of these areas you may take longer to get up to speed. This can increase the amount of time you’ll be spending during the week to keep up with your online classes.

Lastly, you may have some online classes that require some face to face or live meetings. Make sure you find out ahead of time about these and if they’ll fit your schedule. It can be a constructive part of your education, but if you work during the times they are held, it’s not such a wonderful thing.

So, plan on spending more time than you anticipate. Multiply your best estimate by 2 or 3. Could you still handle it? If so and you do things quicker that’s all the better. It’s much better than doing the opposite and not having enough time to do all that you need to do. Good luck!

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