Fundamental Online Skills for College Students

Going into college is not what it used to be. The basic requirement remains the same for most schools, which is a high school diploma or its equivalent, a GED certificate. But now colleges and universities expect their students to have the fundamental online skills and know how to use the different platforms and types of device.

If you are entering college, here’s an outline of computer skills that you will need to attain your objective of getting an undergraduate degree.

young man viewing campus

Online Research

Research done for lessons and projects in schools goes beyond Google. Much more important is the sifting through the abundance of information available on the internet at a click of the mouse. You will be searching for credible resources and background information.

There are several search tools you can use to look for scholarly papers, search databases, locate primary and supplementary origins and find authoritative sources. Your school’s library may have subscriptions to databases that students can access for free within the campus.

Other sources for scholarly research are:

Zotero – a personal research assistant that anyone can use for free; it automatically senses content in your browser and adds it to your library

Google Scholar – a little known product of Google, this tool allows you to search for scholarly articles, theses, abstracts and court opinions from academic publishers, universities and professional associations. It can give you the full text or a metadata of the article.

Mendeley – an academic social media that helps you organize research and collaborate online.

Online Collaboration

College studies require online collaboration between students in a team for assignments and group projects. These interactions may be video conferencing, web conferencing, sharing files, storing documents. Students in their primary or secondary levels who have been getting tuition have an advantage because of the additional exposure to various subjects, including computer skills.

Familiarize yourself with the platforms and apps the team will use for collaborating. It could be an interactive classroom within the school’s Learning Management System or the popular Google Hangouts or Skype. Learn how to create videos using WeVideo, share files with Google Docs and cloud storing on Dropbox or Drive.

Digital Communication

Communication between students and with their teachers takes several forms now that various platforms and devices are used. It could be through chat (WhatsApp, Skype,) social media (Facebook) or the traditional email. Be aware of communication etiquette when in a discussion and avoid the type of messaging you normally use with your friends. Use full sentences and correct spelling and be circumspect in your language.

Software Applications for College

Learn the basic programs you will be using in your college courses. Do a self-assessment and use online tutorials to enhance your skills in using them.

Word Processing

Word processing programs are used for creating documents for paper assignments. There are editing and formatting features too. While most students know how to use these applications, there are many more features which may be unfamiliar, so it pays to learn about them. The industry standard is Microsoft Word. Google Docs and Open Office are also good alternatives.

Spreadsheets

Spreadsheets are usually most used in business courses such as finance and accounting subjects. It’s ideal for organizing numerical data in rows and columns. It is able to make calculations and set up how data is displayed. Microsoft leads the pack with its Excel spreadsheet but there are also others like OpenOffice, Google Docs and LibreOffice.

Presentation Software

A presentation program displays information in a slide show style. It can allow for text and images to be inserted and edited. Microsoft’s PowerPoint is the most popular presentation software but many others are just as good. Prezi is favored by many for its nonlinear style while Google Docs is a simplified PowerPoint.

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