7 Tips for a Successful Semester

Georgia Tech’s Academic Advisors share their advice for success as an online degree student

August 09, 2021 | By GTPE Communications
Overhead view on Georgia Tech

Whether you're a new student, or you’ve been around for a few semesters, starting something new – like an online degree program – can be intimidating. 

With a new semester of classes approaching fast, we’ve compiled a list of seven tips from current academic advisors to help ensure a smooth transition and a successful semester. 

Tip #1: Ask for help. Your academic advisors are there to help you be successful in the program so don’t hesitate to reach out to them with any questions or concerns. It might even be helpful to save the informational emails your advisor sends you throughout the year and revisit them when you have questions. Advisors typically send out information before you need it, so saving old emails may come in handy when you come across questions.  

Tip #2: Schedule your time. Carefully consider how much time you can dedicate to course work every week when deciding how many courses to take at once. We recommend starting with one course your first semester in the program and allowing approximately 15 hours of study time every week for that course. Don't bite off more than you can chew -- you can always add another course the next semester if you find you can handle the workload. It’s better to start off strong in the program than feeling too overwhelmed with multiple classes.  

Tip #3: Read the syllabus. Before signing up for a class, be sure to thoroughly read the class syllabus. You will want to ensure that you know exactly what is taught in the class, including all requirements before registering. You don’t want any last-minute surprises! 

Tip #4: Don’t procrastinate. Don’t put off the core required courses, get them done sooner rather than later. For example, for our Online Master of Science in Cybersecurity students, don’t let the ghost of CS 6035 haunt you until graduation! You must take it regardless, so don’t wait until the last minute.   

Tip #5: Know where you stand. If you're approaching the withdrawal deadline and your grade isn’t where you want it to be, consider withdrawing from the course. Better to live to fight another day than risk getting a lower grade. Remember you need a 3.0 departmental GPA to graduate.   

Tip #6: Summer classes aren’t easier. The material in the summer courses is not less, it’s just condensed in fewer weeks than Spring and Fall. Consider taking your hardest classes during the Spring or Fall semesters to give yourself more time to study and prepare for assessments. For example, if you don’t have a technical background, give yourself the time and take CS 6035 in the Spring or Fall semesters.   

Tip #7: Connect with classmates. For the professional master’s students – get to know your cohort. They will be your support team throughout the program. If you are an online master student, take advantage of the message boards and virtual meetups to connect with other students in the program. Learning comes from your peers as well as your instructor/professor, so contribute as much as possible. 

We hope this helps and we can’t wait to meet you/see you again in the fall!