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Tips for Succeeding in an Online Class

Online Success Strategies

Brightly colored pencils


Pencils will always have their place in learning. However, today computers are more common and online classes abound.

If you haven't taken an online class, you may think that these classes are easier than taking a regular college course. However, usually this is not the case.

Here are some tips to help you learn and succeed in an online course.


1. Get help with technology.

Know where to get help when you need it. Plan ahead for how to submit your work if something goes wrong. The college has open computer labs, or there may be a copy store close to you that provides computer access.

2. Familiarize yourself with the course design.

Check out class information sites and links to know where assignments, materials and tools are located.

3. Get input from former students of the course.

Many online courses have a section where former students tell you how to make it through the course successfully. Listen!

4. Stay in contact with your teacher.

Point out areas that you think are difficult or unclear. Teachers are there to support you, but you must indicate that their assistance is needed. Frequent contact with your instructors not only is essential but also expected.

5. Be realistic about budgeting your time.

Because the course is 24/7, it is accessible whenever you decide to go to class. However, it is a good idea to keep a class attendance schedule, set times when you log in each day. Because you are responsible for completing the course assignments, interacting with your peers on the discussion board, and keeping up with instructor announcements, you must manage your time wisely. This is often the most difficult skill to develop.

6. Read all online information more than once.

Announcements, discussion board posts, lectures, linked material—all are essential to your success. Read the material more than once; read to understand. If it still is not clear, read it again. Then ask questions of your instructor, your classmates, your tutors.

7. Be proactive!

You are in charge of your learning. Your raised hand can’t be seen, nor can your wrinkled brow. You must speak up when you have questions or need more information. In online classes, "noisy" students are heard, quiet students are not! If you don't know what to talk about, listen to your classmates.

You can also refer to the ASC handout, Meet with Your Professor. (Use the Back button to return to this page.)


Study Tips to Meet Online Demands

Colored pencil points


Just as pencils need sharpening, so do our study skills if we are to meet the demands of our online courses.

We must be self-disciplined and draw upon our personal motivation to succeed. While this is not always easy, there are strategies we can use to successfully reach our class goals.


1. Set interim goals and deadlines.

Thinking about doing the whole course can often be overwhelming. Accomplishing parts of it in reasonable time periods is encouraging and helpful.

2. Create a study schedule and stick to it.

Plan at least 3 study hours each week for every unit you are taking. If possible, study when you are fresh and attentive. Mark your assignments and deadlines on a weekly calendar. The purposeful use of different colors for discussion board posts, assignment due dates, tests, etc. will help ensure you will address and complete each task.

Use this Blank Schedule to get started. Click the Back button to return to this page.

3. Remember that lectures are posted each week.

Make sure you check the class web site immediately to get started on the weekly assignments. Refer to your study schedule to ensure you have scheduled enough time to complete each task.

4. Allot time each day to attend class.

Check course announcements, discussion board posts, and e-mail every day. It may only take 5-10 minutes, but you will keep abreast of any changes in your course assignments and class updates.

5. Complete all assignments on time.

Getting behind will not only put you in a time crunch but also lead to late assignments that result in loss of grade points. It is essential that you keep up with discussion board posts; if late, your comments contribute little or nothing to the in-class conversations with your peers as they have moved on without you.

6. Find your most effective motivations.

You need to be a successful self-motivated, self-directed learner. What makes you keep working at any task? Do you get excited when you master a skill? Do you need a reward? Whatever works, use it!

7. Get help from classmates and tutors.

If you need the companionship of other learners, contact students who may want to work with you. Studying with others increases learning, even through e-mail. Tutorial support is valuable for everyone at some point. Tutors are your partners in learning; let them help!

8. Evaluate your own progress regularly.

Reread the course objectives and standards to monitor your progress. Check your grades as they are posted. Evaluate where you are and where you need to be by the end of each week. Then do something to get there!



Man typing on keyboard

Web Resources for Online Class Success


Online Study Tips

Tips for Participating in Hybrid Classes Some of these strategies work for online courses as well. It's all text but worth reading.

Organize and Use Time Efficiently

Organization Can't find anything? Learn how! (Muskingum College)

Note: This is a very long document, so scan for the information you need. Return to the site periodically to scan for more info.

Manage Your Time! Here's a shorter, more friendly video from youtube on learning to assess your use your of time as presented by an "average goddess."


Assess Your Study Skills

On Course Assessment [of Study Behaviors] Take this self-assessment to identify behaviors and beliefs you may wish to change to achieve more of your potential in college and in life. A pre- and post-test are available so you can measure your progress toward more effective learning. (Cengage Learning and On Course)

Study Habits Assessment Find your strengths and weaknesses as a learner (Muskingum College)

Learning to Learn What it takes to really learn (Rio Salado College)


Boost Your Motivation

Motivation What motivators are most effective for you? Scroll down to the ones you decide to be most helpful. Ignore the irritating moving menu on the left if you can. (Muskingum College)


Study on the Go

Strategies for Studying on the Go While this site is for preparation for the Medical College Admissions Test, the three suggestions at the beginning of the video are very helpful. Ignore the last part on commercial note cards unless the MCAT is one of your future goals. (


Go to Online Readiness

Go to Online Reading Strategies

Go to Participating in Online Discussions

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This site was created and is maintained by Barbara J. Speidel, SWC Academic Success Center Coordinator. @ Barbara J. Speidel

The ASC logo was created by Andrew C. Rempt. @ Andrew C. Rempt

Southwestern College