APU Careers & Learning Online Learning

Tips for Starting College: Do’s and Don’ts To Remember

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By Ginny Hallock
Academic Advisor, APU

Embarking on a new academic journey is both exciting and daunting. While attending an online university can make you feel isolated, you are not alone.

The university has a global network of students and more than 2,000 full and part-time faculty and staff. There are multiple opportunities for you to connect with other people and receive assistance when you need it.

Start Your College Journey with the Right Preparation and Attitude

Preparation, organization, dedication and determination are key to your academic success. To improve your success during your time at the university, keep these recommendations in mind as you start classes:


  • Stay active in the class. Log in regularly during the week, check over assignments and forums, and message your instructor with any questions or concerns.
  • Contact your Academic Advising team when you first begin your program. We can provide course registration and progression recommendations, discuss academic resources to assist in your success, review your transfer credit award (if applicable) and discuss your educational goals.
  • Join ClearPath. The apps available in ClearPath target specific student needs and provide on-point assistance and useful information.You can join and access ClearPath via the tab located the top of the ecampus.
  • Get involved in the university! There are numerous student activities available, including student organizations, service opportunities, mentoring and much more.


  • Don’t jump around from degree to degree. Carefully select your degree program when you first begin. Changing degrees can result in the loss of academic credit and increases the time needed to complete your program. For assistance, review the extensive program and career resources available on our Career Services page, review the helpful career apps in ClearPath or make an appointment with a Career Coach.
  • Don’t procrastinate. When your class begins, log in early in the week, review your lessons for the week (via the Lessons tab) and get started. Make it a goal to complete any reading by Wednesday and complete the initial forum post by Thursday. Getting an early start will allow you enough time to complete any remaining assignments and forum responses during the latter part of the week.
  • Don’t quit! If you fall behind in your coursework, message your instructor about your circumstances and plans. Contact your advising team to discuss your options including extensions and withdrawal.
  • Don’t hesitate to ask for assistance. Contact your Academic Advising team via email, by phone at 877-755-2787 or through live chat. We are available Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST. If we can’t answer the question or provide the assistance you need, we’ll direct you to the appropriate department who can assist you. You can also visit the Help Center (click “HELP” at the top of the university’s homepage) to find helpful articles about different topics.

We hope you find these suggestions helpful and wish you the best as you begin your program. We look forward to helping you achieve your goals!

About the Author

Ginny is a Northern Virginia native and holds a B.S. in Education from George Mason University. She has served as an academic advisor at APU for almost seven years! Outside of her career, she enjoys spending time with her three children and granddaughter, playing adult soccer, volunteering with Serve Our Willing Warriors and interpreting for the deaf at her local church.

Susan Hoffman is a Managing Editor at APU Edge, whose articles have appeared in multiple publications. Susan is known for her expertise in blogging, social media, SEO, and content analytics, and she is also a book reviewer for Military History magazine. She has a B.A. cum laude in English from James Madison University and an undergraduate certificate in electronic commerce from American Public University.

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