avoiding online school pitfalls

The Biggest Online School Challenges and How to Beat Them

Updated By Staff Writer on January 29, 2021

Online education takes a very different approach from traditional schooling, which can bring a few unique challenges. But don’t let that deter you from enrolling! Understanding these four challenges ahead of time will help you identify them when they crop up in your life and successfully come up with solutions.


The flexibility and convenience of online classes entice many people to switch to online education. It’s a perfect option for those who are already juggling their time with work, family obligations, and other life responsibilities. However, even with online school’s flexibility, it can be hard to fit lectures and class assignments into your busy schedule. Without proper time management, you can easily fall behind in your classes, which adds unnecessary stress to your life.

But don’t worry. With a few easy steps, you can be well on your way to better managing your time like a champ.

  • Plan your schedule at the beginning of every week. Find where you can fit in some time to study for at least a few minutes each day.
  • Minimize distractions. It can be easy to browse social media while doing homework on your computer, so find ways to block out these and other distractions that are time-wasters.
  • Create to-do lists. By breaking down your tasks into manageable items, you can accomplish them more effectively.


Online classes mean no teachers or classmates keeping you on task. It’s all on you—your education starts when you open your computer.

It’s too easy to procrastinate and lose motivation when the responsibility to learn lies completely on your shoulders. You can start the semester with enthusiasm, only to lose sight of your goals and quickly lose momentum. So how do you find the motivation to keep going? Consider these tips:

  • Set achievable goals. If you find yourself failing to reach certain goals, like studying for five hours straight, take a step back. Establish smaller goals you can slowly work through.
  • Remind yourself of your ambitions. Why did you decide to attend school in the first place? Write down your reasons for attending school and read them often.
  • Stick to your schedule. Don’t give in to the temptation of procrastination; it will only set you back and make it difficult to regain your motivation.


To attend an online school, you’ll have to use a computer. That may sound obvious, but it also means you have to be proficient with using technology. You’ll need to learn how to navigate your online learning management system, download course materials, and use basic software to complete assignments.

Even if you already have basic computer skills, there are still some things you need to be aware of in case you run into problems:

  • Pay attention to your teacher’s submission requirements. They may ask you to submit it as a specific file type, like a PDF or a Word document. The way you name your file may also be important to them, so be sure to thoroughly read instructions.
  • Figure out what software you need ahead of time. Don’t be late to a class meeting because you still needed to download the video chat software. Courses should have a list of required software you can check to be sure you have everything you need.
  • Contact a support center when problems occur. Even the most tech-savvy people will still run into problems they don’t know how to fix. Independence University has a student support system that helps answer your toughest technical questions.


Online education can leave you feeling isolated. After all, you don’t have a classroom or classmates to keep you engaged, which can quickly turn into a lack of motivation and falling behind in your coursework. Staying engaged is also crucial for maintaining your educational momentum since a lack of engagement in one class can turn into less engagement in your other classes.

If you find yourself feeling disconnected from your class, consider doing some of the following:

  • Communicate with your classmates. This could be through email or with a group on social media. Whichever form of communication you use, the point is to find an easy way to interact with fellow classmates. Some of them may be struggling with similar issues in the class, and you can help each other out.
  • Make sure your professors know who you are. Be sure to include your name in every email you send them. You might even consider giving them some life updates every now and then.
  • articipate in discussion boards early on. It’s easy to avoid discussion boards entirely; you might think you have nothing to gain from them. But starting a discussion is a great way to feel connected and even learn new concepts within the course.


The unique challenges of online schooling provides its students with numerous opportunities for growth. If you're ready to take the steps to succeed in your online education, check out our free Online College Survival Guide to discover the best pathway to a new and successful life.