Tips For New Students of The Art Institute Online

Danielle Bergum posted a great article about tips for students in the forum that I felt should be on the front page for everyone to see:

Hello all, my name is Danielle Bergum and I am a senior Interior Design student here at The Art Institute Online. I am the secretary of the Student Government Association, an Interior Design & AutoCAD tutor, and a student member of ASID.
With my experience at The Art Institute Online, I wanted to pass along some knowledge that may help each and every one of you on your education journey!

  • 1. Employee and Student? Many of you, I am sure, are not only half or full-time students, but also have kids, and a career or job as well. One of the biggest mistakes is thinking that The Art Institute Online is unlike an onground school in that they will work around your life! This is NOT TRUE! Distance learning is excellent! AiO gives students a huge amount of privacy and freedom, but they are still a higher education institute and must maintain professionalism to allow their courses to be accredited. With that said, don’t take more courses than you can handle. If you have a busy life – you still need to understand that your assignments are due on the due date, and you should plan your schedule accordingly! Microsoft Office is an excellent program to schedule your daily agenda and keep on track!

    Trust me, I know from experience that school and work can be stressful and take up the majority of your time. I work 40+ hrs a week, I take 17hrs per quarter at The Art Institute Online, I am a tutor, I am a member of 2 school organizations which meet every 2 weeks for 1-2 hour meetings, I teach 3 online classes, and I still have time (very little) to spend with my husband, friends, and family. I have also been lucky enough to maintain a 4.0 cumulative GPA thus far. I am a very organized person, and I know what my priorities are. Don’t take distance learning for granted!

  • 2. Before enrolling in anything – take a look at not only your intended major, but your location as well. It is very very possible that you may have to move to get even a chance at the job that you want. I live in a very small town – we probably only have 2 certified Interior Designers – not to mention, most people around here don’t even know what an Interior Designer is – they actually think I am wasting $70,000 to paint walls!!! And, if you want to know just how small it is – my high school graduating class had 100 people in it. I know that The Art Institute Online’s career services can’t help me much here. Don’t think that just because AiO has career services, that they will be able to get you a job exactly where you want. Don’t expect to graduate from AiO and start out making $100,000+. You have to work hard, career services are a guide – they are not a job finder. Make sure that you understand the sacrifices that are going into your career to get you where you want to be! And remember, you can do more for yourself than anyone in this world! Be assertive (in a confident and professional way) and be the best at what you do. Also – make plans to attend the Art Institute portfolio reviews. I have heard of many people who get job offers through the senior portfolio reviews! Talk to your academic advisor, program director, or even someone in Admin about participating in a portfolio review!
  • 3. One of the main reasons students get poor grades is they do not turn their assignments in on time. This is a huge point reduction – as The Art Institute Online policy states NO LATEWORK. However, some (few) instructors do accept late work with sometimes a 50% point reduction. Think about this – if you had a project with a deadline, the client was paying you an ample amount of money, and you were late – even a day late – you could lose that client and the whole project. That is HORRIBLE advertisement and horrible for your business! Now, at AiO you are definitely paying a good amount for these courses, but, you know the policies when you enroll – and therefore, why would you waste your money? Work hard, turn your assignments in on time! Many times, your effort is better than your work. Instructors see potential. Even if your assignment isn’t finished – often, it is better to turn it in than not at all! You can at least get feedback from peers and instructors to further your education!
  • 4. Critiques are vital to your education! Learn how to give constructive criticism. Don’t be afraid to tell your peers this is wrong, this is wrong, this could be better… and here is why!!!! And, definitely give them points like this is great, this looks good, wow this is awesome… and here is why!!!! Always give good and improvement comments and explain your reasoning. Use the 2×2 rule – 2 comments on what needs imporoved, and 2 comments on what is great. And, yes, everything can be improved – I don’t care how great your work seems, there can always be something to improve! You should always try to exceed no matter where you think you stand. You will learn from this, the students will learn from this, and your participation points will rise. Your critiques can be more valuable than the lectures & reading assignments from the text!
  • 5. Don’t be afraid to ask questions!!! If you have a question, ask it! If you have 20 questions, ask them! Your instructors can’t see your expressions, they can’t see your frustration – so they don’t know if you need help. The instructors are there to guide you – so give them a reason to guide! Let them know if you have a concern, but always do it in a professional way. You will get a more thorough response from well-developed questions than whinning and complaining! If you need further assistance – as your instructor, academic advisor, and/or program director if there is a tutor available for your program – they may be your new best friend!
  • 6. You have a say in your education people!! You can not only pick and choose your schedule (taking into consideration that some courses are only taught at certain times) but you can also have a say in your instructor. There are multiple instructors that teach these courses, so ask your academic advisor or program director what your options are for each course. Review your course catalog! Pick the electives that you want to take and communicate with your academic advisor. If you have trouble with your academic advisor, communicate with your program directors! Your academic advisor will send you an e-mail each quarter with your student schedule. You have the option to accept or decline. If you do not like the schedule that your academic advisor has given you LET THEM KNOW! Press the “I do not accept” link and suggest changes to the schedule!!!!!
  • 7. There are 11 week courses available! Not all courses at The Art Institute Online are 5.5 weeks. There are many courses, and more developing courses, that are 11 weeks. If you feel that you would like more time to concentrate in a course ask your academic advisor if there is an 11 week option! This could save you a ton of headaches in the end! It allows more time to work on assignments, more time to ask questions, and a chance for a better grade!! Don’t be afraid to ask for these things!
  • 8. Keep healthy while taking online classes! Print your lectures! With an online course, the computer and desk can put a lot of strain on your body! Print your lectures and take them to a park, sit in a new chair, or read them on your work breaks. This allows your eyes to rest from the glare of your computer, and allows you to get up and stretch a bit. Don’t become a part of your workstation – your back will hurt, your eyes will hurt, and you will just feel drained. If you have a large project and are on the computer for hours – remember to stretch every little bit. Sometimes you will work so much that you don’t get a chance for a food break – don’t forget to eat! Always keep a bottle of water next to your workstation. Take a sip every few minutes and avoid dehydration and remember to take a snack break! Use a comfortable desk chair and good lighting.
  • 9. Don’t forget to interact with your Student Government! The The Art Institute Online Student Government Association is always looking for helpful solutions to student concerns. You can view their website through the Campus Common, or interact in the forums through either here at AiOstudents.com, or through the Talk On! Student Groups section.

1 Response to “Tips For New Students of The Art Institute Online”


  • Danielle,

    This is a great letter! I am a junior now and never knew that we could request 11 week courses or that we had a say in our instructor. I was always told that I couldn’t change a class because I didn’t like the instructor. THanks for the info.

    Cheryl Morrison

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