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Online College Classes- Tips for Success

Updated on May 10, 2011
You have the world at your fingertips!
You have the world at your fingertips!

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Before you decide to take a college class online or enter into an online degree program, you need to make certain you have the wherewithal to succeed. Time management is the number one key to your success online, without it you will have great difficulty.

Why choose a course of online work to begin with? The first reason is to allow yourself the flexibility to choose the time you will do the work. The work is never done for you and reminders by the instructors are not necessarily forthcoming. In order to do well you will need a reliable computer, a good internet connection and the ability to multi-task.

One of the first mistakes a first time online student makes is not to read the syllabus completely as soon as possible. In order to ensure you will remember all the things that need to be done it is good to print out the syllabus and read it with a highlighter in your hand using it to highlight important information.

Once allowed in the course, spend time familiarizing yourself with all of the components of the site and the internal email feature. Usually the professor offers a question and answer spot to ask questions so everyone can get the answer. This alleviates the instructor from having to answer the question more than once so everyone can also see it. There is a section that also is a kind of meeting place to meet other students in the class. It is good to get to know some of the other members of the community so you can formulate a sense of community right away.

One of the most difficult things for a beginner at this type of coursework is remembering that just because the class does not meet physically, it is not going to be any easier than an in class course. There will be activities and reading that will need to be done on a timely basis and papers and/or tests and responses on forums. Some instructors require more formal responses with clearly noted references when giving responses. Others allow more informal responses online, but expect formal references in any papers you will send along.

Some instructors are very hands on and reply to questions and offer feedback within a few hours of postings.Others will not be very helpful, depending on your level of schooling or the personality of the professor. If you need help, never wait until the end of the course to ask for it, and make certain you have someone else form the class that can offer you feedback if the instructor is less than hands on.

Courses have different levels of difficulty being offered in an online venue. Mathematics may be difficult for someone who is not a visual learner and needs things explained to them . Consider the course and the learning style you are comfortable with when considering this type of class. While many people prefer to be in the classroom to ask questions and learn from the instructor face to face, online learning works out perfectly for those who have internships, multiple commitments and who are self starters.Because you are not asked to answer a question "on the spot" online, you can benefit from this type of course because you have time to formulate an answer and also can respond to answers others have given with some time to consider their views.

Some of the best courses I have taken and/or taught have been facilitated online. A collaborative community and the sense of anonymity serves as the impetus for some people to come out of their shells and allows them to freely communicate without fearing others might think them foolish. Peoples answers usually are not foolish to begin with, but you cannot tell that to someone who does not like to speak up in a class.

As an online literature instructor I also dismiss the need for multiple textbooks and utilize the multitude of materials available on the Internet through the Gutenberg Project and other venues for my students to read. If they do not like to read the materials online, they may of course print them out and read them in that way, allowing for both styles to be used by students with different needs.the key is to keep up with the readings weekly and the responses within the community in order to fully understand the works, the styles, the time periods, the authors and other valuable areas of literary meaning.

Time management cannot be overstated in any online course one is enrolled to complete. In order not to get lost or far behind it is imperative that a weekly schedule be maintained and the work assimilated with the other courses or life duties the student must complete. If one thinks of coursework as one does a project due at ones employment, starting right away and maintaining a balance throughout the task is imperative.

As in all things in life we have times things go awry or we find ourselves ill, our loved ones die, or we have other issues that take us from the task at hand in the course. E-mailing the instructor right away can make the difference between success and failure in any course, but especially in a class that the instructor does not see you each week. Your integrity and common sense usually will allow the instructor to decide which course to take and if you are agreeable to working hard they will find a way to make things work for you.

Communication, planning and staying on top of your assignments are all keys to unlock your potential success in online classes. Above all, do not let anyone tell you they are either easier or more difficult than regular courses are, it all depends on a mix of multiple criteria to make your experience a success. And not everyone is cut out for online coursework.


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    • mandymoreno81 profile image


      7 years ago

      So many students jump in thinking that it's a breeze, some even think you can just cheat easily. I know when I first started I got off track quickly because I didn't take it as seriously.

    • marilnelanoon233 profile image


      7 years ago

      A lot of people don't take the time to get used to things like Blackboard so when it comes time to use those functions, they get stuck and waste valuable time.

    • cmellon86 profile image


      7 years ago

      You list some great tips. Being prepared and on time are huge factors in how well you'll do in online learning.

    • mbaker2012 profile image


      7 years ago

      Being prepared and on time is the most important in online learning, there's so many factors that can go wrong so you have to be ready to deal with anything unexpected.

    • Aley Martin profile imageAUTHOR

      Alice Lee Martin 

      7 years ago from Sumner, Washington,USA

      thank you!

    • ecamper23 profile image


      7 years ago

      This is a wonderful guide for beginners!


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