How to Succeed in an Online Environment

Surviving traditional college can be difficult. Being successful in your online college courses can take even more effort compared to a traditional classroom environment; remaining on task with school work when you don’t have a professor looking over your shoulder takes discipline. Here are some helpful tips for remaining on task with online course work.

Keep in Contact with your Professors

Keeping in contact with your professor throughout the entire online college course will help you by adding a support system to your online experience. Most professors will provide students with various methods of contact, such as telephone numbers and email addresses. If they do not put this information in the syllabus, be sure to ask for it. That way, if you ever have any questions about the course, you can easily ask them. Maintaining contact with the professor also allows them to get to know you, which can be helpful when asking for letters of recommendation or references.

Make a Schedule

Set a schedule for yourself and stick to it. To keep up with your online course work, you will need to be self-motivated and self-sufficient. The best way to go about this is to set aside a certain time of the day or week during which you will complete your school assignments.

Read Assigned Course Material

Often in a traditional classroom group discussion will help to fill in the blanks when students do not complete their reading assignments. This is not possible in a virtual classroom. Each student must post their own answers to discussion boards, and if you haven’t completed the reading, you won’t have much to say.

Stay Organized

Make sure you know the course syllabus. Printing it out can help as it allows you to mark off assignments that you have completed and lets you highlight the ones that will be due soon.

Participate in Discussions

Post on the discussion boards whenever you are able to. Discussion posts usually count as class participation and they are often a significant part of your grade. Remember—not only do you need to post, but you also need to post your comments on time. Make note of the deadline for online discussion posts and be sure to have yours completed and posted to the forum before it is due.

Work Ahead

Try to work ahead whenever possible. Doing assignments a week or more in advance will help keep you from having to scramble to complete things last minute.

And remember, just because a class is online doesn’t mean it will be easy. Many students find online courses more challenging than traditional classes.


University of Washington – College Survival Skills (pdf)

University of Washington – Study Habits of Successful Students (pdf)

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