Skip to main content

Online University Secrets: Top 5 Mistakes Online College Students Make

Top 10 Mistakes Online College Students Make

With the number of online college students growing exponentially, and even eclipsing traditional students at many universities, the rules for going to college have changed dramatically. Here are some pitfalls to avoid if you are taking an online class:

1. Thinking Online Courses are Easier than Traditional Courses

While you might think that taking a five week online American history class is easier than a semester of attending live lectures and taking notes at a traditional college, realize that you are often squeezing 18 weeks of information into 5 weeks. Add to this that most full time college kids are not managing a full time job, family, or even illness on top of their class schedule and you will realize that choosing online does take a big commitment and lots of work.

2. Not Choosing an Accredited Institution

Anyone can set up online classes. While there are many courses that offer certificates in your field or some, like MOOCs (essentially free online courses) may help you with a specific skill, be sure that the institution you choose is accredited for your degree program if you intend on earning a college degree. If you just want to take a MIT free online course on Robotics for fun or to add to your skill set, that's one thing, but if you want to pursue robotics as a professional, be sure to find an accredited university with the program you need.

3. Throwing Time Management Out the Window

The biggest reason for students failing online courses often revolves around poor time management skills. Assume you will need between 10-20 hours for your online course each week, and schedule it in just like you would schedule your work appointments. Make sure that your family, friends, coworkers, boss, and kids understand that when you are working on your classwork you need to be left alone to study and do your assignments. And if you don't have this kind of time available, then don't sign up for online courses until you do.

4. Letting the Government Pay for Your College

This is a HUGE mistake that both traditional and online students make. With a poor job market and the very real possibility that you will never finish your degree (sorry, have to be realistic), taking in tens of thousands of dollars (or even one hundred thousand dollars) in college debt not only is foolish, but it jeopardizes your future family, hopes for a steady career, job choices, and even your not-yet-born children. 

In most fields, you should try to limit yourself to the amount of debt it would take you 
two years working full time to pay off. 

Too many individuals are paying off their college debt almost into retirement, finding that they cannot purchase a house, choose the career they want, send their kids to college, or even purchase a car because of crushing college debt. 

5. Just Sliding By

Make the most of your education. Don't just aim for the lowest bar or try to cheat your way through. If you slack in college, traditional or online, then your degree is worthless, yes, worthless, because when employers are looking for top candidates you will not have the answers, not know how to present yourself professionally, not know how to do your job. You slack and you end up with a low end job or unemployed, especially in today's terrible economy where even overachievers are stuck in dead end jobs after college. 

So make the most of your education. Take internships, get involved with extracurriculars if possible, stay in touch with your professors and classmates, network in your field, take on work experience that enhances your resume', read every textbook, watch every video assignment, do every piece of homework as if your life depended on it, because it does. Only 1% of the entire human population on earth has a college degree. That's it. So be happy that you get to be one of the privileged few that can better your situation and help your family through education.

Award-winning composer and media artist Sabrina Peña Young has over fifteen years educational experience, from early childhood to graduate school. She currently teaches humanities courses online and will be speaking at the upcoming TedX Buffalo October 14, 2014 on her animated opera Libertaria: The Virtual Opera, an excited online sci-fi opera about the teen rebel Libertaria escaping from a genetics Factory and teaming up with her addict father to destroy evil reverse-aging geneticists in a post-USA dystopia. 



Music Secrets: How to Write an Opera, Part 1

Feel like writing an opera is only for big name composers with big budgets? Or are you willing to take the plunge and create a work in one of the most compelling and cutting edge musical opera? Almost two years ago I embarked on the largest musical production I have created to date -  Libertaria: The Virtual Opera. After writing the award-winning Creation Oratorio and dozens of multimedia works, I wanted to combine my love of the audio and the visual into a single large scale work.  Find a Great Dramatic Story You need a strong story to write a compelling opera. Fortunately you can easily borrow from thousands of public domain works and modernize them. Think of West Side Story (just a contemporary version of Shakespear's Romeo and Juliet) .   Many great operas use Shakespeare, the Brothers Grimm , and Biblical stories, all of which include interesting characters, strong themes, and action.   Libertaria borrows heavily from messianic stories, but is se

Music Secrets: How to Write an Opera, Part 2

Music Secrets: How to Write an Opera, Part 2 After the incredibly positive feedback that I had from Music Secrets: How to Write an Opera, Part 1 , I thought I would talk a little bit about the composition angle of writing, at least how I do it in regards to vocal music . Here's a quick primer for anyone learning some of the basics of writing vocal music for opera, musicals, classical music , etc.  1. The Sketch I have had several great teachers in my life - Dr. Clare Shore , Hilton Jones, Dr. Kristine Burns, Paul Reller , Dr. Frederick Kaufman, Dr. Orlando Garcia, Chuck Owen, etc. My composition prof (and USF SYCOM guru) Paul Reller helped me develop the composition technique that I have had for years.  Download the Libertaria: The Virtual Opera Soundtrack at iTunes When I have the time to go through the entire composition process (because sometimes I have to skip a step or two for deadlines), I will start out with pencil, paper, and a piano (or keyboard, in my case).

Free Classical Sheet Music and Free Opera Downloads @ Scribd

Sheet Music (Photo credit: jayneandd ) Awhile ago I decided that I would upload the bulk of my music scores and sheet music to sites like Scribd, the Petrucci Music Library , and for free sheet music downloads. Some musicians told me that it was ridiculous to give away my music. The truth is that I don't depend on music publishing sales of my scores, and I would rather inspire a young piano student, percussion ensemble, opera singer, grandma, bored music student, or music teacher to play and study my music than hold on tight to my copyrights and let my music scores collect virtual dust on my hard drive.  The Petrucci Library, Scribd, and all have dozens of free music scores available for choir, vocal solos, piano, percussion, orchestra, opera, multimedia works, and more. You can see a short list of available free sheet music by checking out the Scores page. You might want to check out scores to my modern opera Libertaria: The Virtual Opera , an ex

Free Sheet Music Download: Classical Music Flute Solo Airborn Sand by Composer Sabrina Pena Young

Free Sheet Music Download: Classical Music Flute Solo Airborn Sand by Composer Sabrina Pena Young FREE MUSIC DOWNLOAD:,_Sabrina_Pena) Originally composed during a hurricane in South Florida . Inspired by a news reporter 's comments about "Airborne sand " whipping through her hair, the composer decided to write a work for flute that imitated the movements of sand whirling on a beach during a hurricane. It was subsequently performed at the University of South Florida in Tampa . Flute Solo Related articles Friday Freebie: Old Rugged Cross The Landing - Science fiction Robot music - Sabrina Pena Young Music Marketing Secrets: How to Use Twitter, Youtube, Social Media - S P... Quiz: Which Classical Music Era Are You? Latest iTunes 12.5 Beta Should Please Classical Music Fans After Dark - Romanian Rhapsody concert at the Limerick City Gallery of Art Russian inspiration for Clandeboye Festival The Tran

How to Write Film Music in 5 Easy Steps

How to Write Film Music in 5 Easy Steps How to write film music in five simple steps for any composer. Thanks for checking out this video! Subscribe for more great content! Like this? Then check out AMAZON BESTSELLER Composer Boot Camp 101, a comprehensive guide to songwriting, composition, and film music with 50 exercises for students, educators, and music professionals! DOWNLOAD TODAY

The Phantom of the Opera - Prague Cello Quartet

The Phantom of the Opera - Prague Cello Quartet

What Skills Do You Need to Become a Songwriter?

What Skills Do You Need to Become a Songwriter?  Becoming a successful songwriter is the dream of many musicians. But knowing how to write a song , learn an instrument, and make a successful musical career can seem impossible. Well, it does take a lot of work. Not everyone that wants to be a professional musician will succeed, and many just enjoy writing songs as a fun hobby for their enjoyment.  Do I need to Sing or Play a Musical Instrument? This might seem like a simple question, but it actually has a complicated answer. Why? Some songwriters never learned a single instrument yet can come up with great lyrics and catchy melodies. Others have played piano or guitar for years or are trained singers. So what is the answer?  As a songwriter, you need to understand different aspects of the songwriting process. That doesn't mean you have to have an incredible voice or be the best guitar player on the block. What it does  mean is that you need to know music. There is no better

What is Blue? and other Post Postmodernist Thoughts

1000 Pennies for Your Thoughts - NARA - 534149 (Photo credit: Wikipedia ) One of my many hats is online university instructor. I teach courses in Media and Music History. In my Media in American Society class, we discuss many aspects of media, including truth in media, media conglomeration, marketing, advertising, and the like.  Today my students had an intriguing discussion/debate online about news and partisan politics. The debate was a healthy one, with some students claiming that they see all sides, others describing their favorite political pundits, and others lamenting the lack of authenticity in the media today. In the end, the fact that there would be no answer to today's questions, largely due to the lack of authenticity and the inability to trust anything in print, online, on a TV, spoken by a political leader, etc. etc., I brought up a short discussion on postmodernism, postpostmodernism , and its effects on American culture.  Here is a small snippet that I though