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Becoming a Successful Online Student

There are numerous reasons to consider becoming an online student. For some, the ability to take quality classes that work around a busy work schedule is the main draw. For others, it is the difference in teaching style and comfort of not being in a large classroom setting. Regardless, online classrooms are a growing trend and are likely to be around for a while yet.

Although the number of students participating in online education is growing, becoming a successful online student remains a challenge for many. Unlike traditional classrooms, online courses require a great deal more personal motivation for success. Fortunately, there are many great tips for online students, including the essential ones discussed below.

Set Aside Designated Time

Perhaps one of the most significant difficulties in having classes online is making sure to set aside a designated time for them. When there is no set meeting date, it becomes painfully easy just to keep putting off classwork until just before the due date. In most cases, online classes are just as challenging as traditional ones, so assuming you’re going to have time the night before to do a semester’s worth of work is a big mistake.

Although your schedule may have to change due to work or other obligations, try to designate at least three to five hours a week just to read materials and work on small assignments. Plan on spending additional time on larger class projects. Try to stay up on current assignments and make sure they are turned in before the next one is available.

Stay Organized

Another challenge with online coursework is remaining organized. Because you are not attending class every other weekday, there are not in person reminders on due dates of projects or exams. Therefore, it is critical to make sure that you are prepared in advance by organizing however works best for you.

Many students deconstruct the syllabus, and write down every due date on a calendar or agenda that they see regularly. Nowadays, students will also put alerts into their phones that remind them of upcoming tasks. Doing all of these things helps to make sure that you don’t forget important dates nor procrastinate on tasks that will take some time to complete.

Communicate as Much as Possible

Finally, one of the biggest differences between online courses and traditional classrooms is the ease of communication between you and your classmates or professors. This doesn’t have to be that big of an obstacle though. The vast majority of online classes incorporate chat rooms or discussion questions amongst classmates and quality professors are typically available for email responses within a reasonable amount of time.

The trick is to not be afraid to ask questions and make a point to start conversations. Being an active student even in an online setting is the best way to get the most out of classes, and thoughtful questions bring you to the attention of professors in a positive way. In the long-run this can be a means of building professional relationships that help to make you even more successful after graduation.


Becoming an online student is a great way to help many people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to go (or return to) a higher education program. If you are considering such a program there are hundreds of resources available to help become successful as well as a great support system within the online learning community. As you begin your online courses, remember to set aside time for work, stay organized, and communicate as much as possible!

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Brittni Brown

Brittni Brown is a recent graduate of The College of Idaho; she currently works for a local marketing startup. In her free time she enjoys a variety of outdoor activities.
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