3 Tips for Success in an Online Course

By Danielle Wirsansky on May 29, 2018

Taking online courses during your college career is very likely. In fact, there has been a 150% increase in the number of students selecting distance-learning courses as a part of their regular college curriculum between 1998 and 2008. And 65% of all students have taken an online class as part of the degree-seeking process.

However, taking an online class is markedly different from taking a class where you are face to face with a professor each day. While there are many positive aspects to taking an online course, like having flexibility with your course schedule, it also brings a lot of new hardships that many students may be unprepared for. Sometimes students can struggle in online courses because they lack organization and accountability. In order to do well, you need to stay on top of your A game. Read on to learn some tips for success in an online course!

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Highlight Deadlines

The first thing you should do when taking an online class is find, highlight, and mark down when your deadlines are. You need to know when every assignment is due by and when every quiz or test must be taken. You need to make sure no deadline slips by you, which is very easy to have happen in an online course because you do not have professors and TA’s reminding you daily of upcoming deadlines.

It is up to you to get it all set up and get it done. There is almost no worse feeling when taking an online course than failing an assignment—not because you actually did poorly on it—but simply because you failed or forgot to actually do it.

Time can go by so quickly in an online course because you are, of course, doing other things. You do not want to be surprised by a deadline, thinking you had more time to get a task completed and then being unable to finish it on time or at all.

And this does not just include actual assignments, but any task you need to complete in the course. Do you have to sign up for a time to take your exam? Is there a deadline for when you can sign up for the exam? Mark it down and make sure you do not miss the deadline to sign up for your exam. How awful would it be to tank your exam simply because you never signed up for it on time?

However you need to highlight your deadlines so that you remember it, do it. Write it down in your plan, or leave yourself reminders on your phone, or set it in your google calendar so that it will automatically remind you. Whatever will work best for you, do it. And set it up at the very beginning of the course so that nothing slips by you.

Set Aside Time

Another way students often fail themselves when taking an online course is not setting aside time for themselves to actually get the work done that is required of them. You have a set time put aside every day to attend your class—you should set aside a specific time every day to get your coursework done for your online classes as well.

Online classes are not just assignment after assignment. You often have readings to do or video lectures to watch. If you wait until the last minute to even see what you have due, you may not have the time to get your work done before its deadline. By setting aside time specifically devoted to completing your online coursework, you are much more likely to get it done.

It could be the same time every day, or you could devote specific days of the week to your online course. Whatever you find most effective, or the most effective time to get your work accomplished, you should do.

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Do Not Wait

A lot of these tips have to do with time management, because time management is the thing that students enrolled in online courses struggle with the most. Whatever you do while taking an online course is not to wait until the last minute to do or turn in an assignment.

What if you get to an assignment the night before it is due and find there are many, many steps to it that you were unaware of and that there is no possible way you can get the assignment done in time? What if you missed the window to sign up for your final exam and now are ineligible to even take it? What if it’s 11:50 p.m., your assignment is due at midnight, and your online course platform is having technical issues? Or it is storming so your WiFi connection is not strong enough for you to upload your assignment? Or your mom accidentally spilled coffee on your laptop, which is the only place you have the file for your assignment?

Avoid any of these potential disasters and just get your stuff done and in on time.

Danielle Wirsansky graduated from FSU with a BA in Theatre, a BA in Creative Writing with a minor in History, and an MA in Modern European History with a minor in Public History. While a graduate student, she served as the Communications Officer for the History Graduate Student Association and President/Artistic Director of White Mouse Theatre Productions. She studied abroad in London, England for the Spring 2015 semester at FSU's study center for the Playwriting Program and interned for the English National Theatre of Israel in Summer of 2015. Her first musical, City of Light, opened as part of FSU's New Horizons Festival in Spring of 2016. She has also won the MRCE and URCAA Research grants from FSU. In the past, she served as the Marketing Director for the FSU Student Theatre Association, the intern for the Holocaust Education Resource Council, and the research assistant of Prof. Nathan Stoltzfus. She has previously written for Context Florida (Contributing Writer), USA Today College (Contributing Writer), Sheroes of History (Contributing Blogger), No(le)Reservations (Contributing Blogger), Female, Reloaded (Arts/Entertainment Editor) , I Want a Buzz Magazine (intern), Mandarin Newsline (youth arts update columnist), Distink Designs (Guest blogger), whatscheaper.com (associate editor), escapewizard.com (associate editor), Spark TLH (Contributor), the Tallahassee Democrat (contributor), Elan Literary Magazine (Head of Marketing), and the Improviser Newspaper (Opinions Editor). Danielle has been lucky to be writing for Uloop since 2015 and to have served as the FSU Campus Editor since 2015.

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