Student Life

Tips for Succeeding in Your Online Courses

Here are some tips to help you stay on task and succeed in an online course.

Madison Sheldrake

May 19, 2016

Tips for Succeeding in Your Online Courses
Whether you’re taking an online course in order to make up credits or simply trying to get ahead, taking an online class along with your regular courses requires a lot of diligence and determination. It’s a slippery slope to walk on; although it may not seem like it at first. It can be very difficult to realize when you are prioritizing other things ahead of your class for good reason, and you’re just procrastinating. While it is important not to underestimate the amount of time and work you’ll need to put into your class, know that you can do it - and do it very well - once you know the basics. Here are some tips to help you stay on task and succeed in an online course.
Familiarize yourself with the program.
Each program has a certain way of presenting information to you and a specific lesson structure set for you to follow. Since most of the lessons are set up the same way and, the sooner you familiarize yourself with the programs and lesson structures, the faster you will be able to complete the course. Knowing what to expect from the lessons also helps you get motivated for working on it and also helps you know how much time to schedule to complete various tasks.
Create a schedule.
Planning out how long you are going to give yourself to complete various tasks and assignments helps keep you on track and prevents procrastinating. It gives you a chance to prioritize everything you need to complete for your online class and makes sure you have enough time to do all of it – and do it well.
Reward the small successes.
It doesn’t do you any good to make the schedule if you don’t keep yourself motivated to follow it. Reward yourself for staying on task and finishing your class one lesson at a time. Whether it’s buying a new pair of shoes or getting a longer break from studying, having something to look forward will keep you on track and motivated to do the work.
Read all of the instructions early.
Oftentimes there will be something within your course instructions that you need to get or complete before you start the actual course or lesson. Don’t leave this to the last minute! Even if you aren’t ready to start the actual assignments yet, read everything you can beforehand so that you know you are prepared. You don’t want to find out two weeks before your deadline that there was information you needed to have to complete your course or a textbook you neglected to purchase!
Don’t procrastinate!
I know it sounds like something you hear all the time, but procrastination is your worst enemy when you’re trying to complete an online class. It can be so easy to push it off, but it’s not worth all the stress and worry it causes down the line. Even just pushing it off an hour or two can really hurt. Remember, the longer you wait, the harder it is to sit down and get it done.
Make your textbook your new best friend.
A lot of students enjoy taking online courses because of the constant Internet access. Without a teacher around to monitor your methods for getting an assignment done, using Google or Wikipedia is going to sound like the easy option. This may surprise you, but I found using those tools much more difficult than looking for the information in my textbook. Online courses that are paired with a specific textbook are going to ask for information that may be hard to find in the same format online. This same information can be easily found in the textbook. For example, timelines and dates that are easily found in one page of a history textbook could be spread across a dozen online sources. In the case of online classes, it truly does pay off to complete your assigned readings. Sometimes, the questions or answers featured in the course are quoted directly from the book, or are worded very similarly.
Celebrate your accomplishment!
If you’re in high school, it’s important to remember that online classes are very similar to college courses because you are on your own to keep yourself on task and prepared, while exposing yourself to a college-like set up and self-regulating schedule at the same time. Regardless of when you’re taking an online course – high school or college - you have taken a huge step in preparing yourself for future educational endeavors as well as learning independently. You complete the course on your terms, which makes a successful finish even more rewarding. When you finally hit that last submission link, it’s time to celebrate your accomplishment!

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