6 Tips for Successful Online Study

Updated By Staff Writer on November 9, 2020

Preparing for success in online classes follows a different roadmap than for traditional classrooms. Thankfully, between classmates and a instructor, you won’t be on your own—you’ll just be going without a physical classroom and a long commute.

Still, it can be easy to fall behind if you don’t plan ahead. Check out our tips for online learning success. Following these suggestions will help you start strong and stay ahead in your online education journey.

1. Understand the Differences Between Online and In-Person Learning

There’s more to successful online learning than listening to lectures and passing the occasional quiz. Quality online courses are just as rigorous as in-person classes and require just as much time and effort. The advantage is that online classes come to you. Set yourself up for success by treating them just as seriously as you would any other kind of class. It helps to remember that you’re receiving the same quality education, just delivered in a different format.

2. Make Sure Your Computer Is up to the Job

Online classes use a variety of programs and websites for lectures, assignments, and communication with your classmates and instructor. Check your hardware and software against the specs your instructor provides, and install any needed programs at least a week before class starts to make sure everything works.

Try out your student laptop and the other tools you’ll need to use, and check in if anything is confusing or doesn’t seem to be working right. You don’t want to figure out that you can’t submit an assignment right before your first deadline!

3. Check Out the Class Schedule and Syllabus

Take a look at the syllabus as soon as you can and mark your deadlines and due dates. Even better, add those dates to a calendar that will send you reminders for each deadline well ahead of time.

Jot down notes for yourself and your instructor if you have any questions: Do you understand your responsibility for quizzes? Will there be work that’s not on the syllabus? Are there recommended readings or materials for extra help?

Make it an early priority to figure out your responsibilities and learn when the biggest workloads will be coming up during the course. You can even get in touch with the student support department for tips in managing your workload.

4. Read the Assignments Early

Some assignments may seem unclear at first, especially when you’re new to a class or a field. But if you read your assignment list and other instructions a few days or weeks before they’re due, you’ll have time to ask questions and get an answer.

This will help you avoid panicking in front of your inbox while facing a deadline. And remember, there’s no need to feel anxious about reaching out for help—your instructors expect and welcome questions from students. After all, they care about your academic success just as much as you do.

5. Partner with Your Fellow Students

Many students default to working alone when they’re learning online, but your fellow students are important resources, too. Email your teammates early, or form a study group if your class isn’t divided into teams by your instructor. Share questions, ideas, and tips often, and you’ll all get more out of the class.

Social media is also a resource to connect with fellow students. Head to platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to reach out to students in your classes or to create an online forum. Even if it doesn’t seem like you need the help now, no doubt you’ll want to get feedback from your classmates at some point during the course of the class.

6. Talk to Your Instructor

If you don’t make an effort to reach out, even the best online instructors can become just a name behind emails and grades. Introduce yourself via email or private message, and do the occasional quick check-in after class gets going, just as you would in an in-person classroom.

See a great article that made you think of last week’s lecture? Send it with a thoughtful note. Have a question from another class that would benefit from your instructor’s insight? Ask away. Without in-person classroom time, it’s up to you to ask questions if things are unclear. And remember that it’s much easier to do so if it isn’t the first time you’ve contacted your instructor during the term.

Find the Degree Program for You Today

In short, learning how to be a successful online college student requires the same skills that help students succeed in traditional classrooms. Participation, communication, and preparedness will all help you make the grade with online classes, too. By taking online classes seriously and having the right technology to support your efforts, you’ll be on your way to thriving in your online education experience.

If you’re ready to start your online degree, check out Independence University today. When pursuing your passion at Independence University, you’ll be able to choose from a variety of fully online degree programs. Each program is designed for some of today’s fastest-growing career fields, including business, healthcare, technology, and graphic design

Learn more about our degree programs today.