7 Tips for Success When Taking Online Courses

by | Nov 25, 2019

Written by Kendall Job, Editorial Intern 

Online classes typically offer a lot of flexibility with when and where you complete the coursework. However, with that flexibility comes even more responsibility. There are some key steps one must take to be successful in an online course. You need to create the structure and organization a traditional classroom provides for yourself and hold yourself accountable for your work and studies. 

Here are a few tips to help you on your way to being successful throughout your time taking an online course. 

1. Know the expectations 

Online courses are sometimes considered “blow-off” classes. However, that’s not the case with most courses offered and taken online. Many online courses are condensed from the normal semester length into eight-week classes. They require the same amount of rigor and work as a traditional in-person class. 

2. Establish a functional workspace 

With an online class, there is no time spent sitting in a class full of other people listening to a lecture. One of the most important aspects of classes online is finding or creating a space that is helpful and functional for you to work in. Whether it’s working from a desk at home or packing up your laptop and heading to the library, a quiet space with a good internet connection is ideal for your brain to be able to connect studying and school with whatever space you choose. 

3. Be aware of your resources 

As soon as you get that introductory email from your professor, read the syllabus! It will likely have all the information, websites, due dates, etc. that you need to be successful in the class. After you find the web platforms you’ll be completing your coursework through, bookmark them on your computer so you never lose them. Also, if there are web or library resources at your disposal, be aware of where those are to help with assignments throughout the course. 

4. Keep track of your past work 

This is a huge part of staying organized in an online class. If for whatever reason you experience a technology issue, either with the class platform or your internet connection, be sure to keep a copy of all of your written work once it’s completed. A smart way to keep track of this is by writing anything you need to submit on a different platform first (ie. MicrosoftWord or GoogleDocs) and copying and pasting it later. This way, you’ll always have your completed work and will never run the risk of losing it if something goes awry. 

5. Manage your time wisely 

Just because nobody is reminding you of due dates and when to complete your assignments doesn’t mean you don’t need to study! Be sure to take a long look over the syllabus at the very beginning of the course and write down all due dates in whatever organizational fashion you prefer. In addition, set aside blocks of time on days you know you have free time to commit to working on your online classwork. This way, it won’t interfere with other traditional classes or your career. 

6. Introduce yourself to the professor 

As in any traditional, in-person class, it’s a great idea to know the professor. If you can’t do so in person, send them an email introducing yourself and showing your eagerness to perform well in the class. If you will be on campus and have the opportunity, pop into their office hours to say hello so they can match a name to a face. Chances are, they’re never going to actually know you in an online course, so if you have the option to introduce yourself upfront, it may help your grade in the future! 

7. Ask for help if you need it 

Just because you can’t always see your professor in person, doesn’t mean they don’t want to help you. If you need help, just ask for it! You’re one simple email away from getting the answers you need to complete an assignment or pass an exam with flying colors. In online courses especially, there’s usually an online discussion board for the class where students have the opportunity to ask and answer one another’s questions, too. 

Do you have any other tips you’ve found helpful when taking an online course? Start a conversation and help others out by commenting your best online class success tips below!

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