"I've had fabulous conversations just by reaching out to my instructor on social media," Huitron says. 'I had the opportunity to have Google+ Hangout with one of my instructors … it gave that instructor a window into who I am."
Students should ensure they convey the right message within that window—which means cleaning up any photos or posts on your social media profiles that you would not want a professor or potential employer to see, he adds.
[Read why online degrees don't impede job searches.]
4. Scope out resources: Online students can often access resources such as tech support and university library materials without ever setting foot on a campus.
The University of Phoenix offers online math tutorials, an E-library, and 24-hour technical support for its students, says Michael Phillips, regional director of academic affairs at the online institution. The school also has an online writing center where students can get feedback on research papers and written assignments before they turn them into their professors.
Many colleges and universities also offer time management tutorials to prep first-time online students for keeping pace with their E-learning courses.
"It's really important to understand how to leverage those resources," Phillips says. "Doing that ahead of time as much as possible is really important."
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