Student Life

Tips for Succeeding in Your Online Courses

These six tips serve as motivation to ace any online course, both at the high school and college levels.

Shawna Newman

January 21, 2021

Tips for Succeeding in Your Online Courses
Ensure you have enough time to get everything done – AND do it well.
Whether you’re taking an online course to get ahead, or this is the route your school or college has taken in response to the COVID pandemic, taking an online coursework requires a lot of diligence and determination. 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 get the hang of the e-learning basics. If you’re looking for the winning solution on how to be a successful online college student—look no further than yourself! Here are some tips for online students, designed to help you stay on task and succeed in your virtual courses.
Familiarize yourself with the learning platform.
Each learning platform or program has a certain way of presenting information to you and a specific lesson structure 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 boosts your motivation and helps you to establish a personal time schedule to complete your homework tasks.
Create a schedule.
Planning out how long you are going to give yourself to complete various tasks and assignments helps you stay on track and eliminates your odds of procrastination. An online course schedule gives you the chance to prioritize everything you must complete for your online class. A schedule also serves as a built-in tactic to ensure you have enough time to get everything done – AND do it well.
Reward the small victories.
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 in class and finishing one lesson at a time. Whether it’s buying a new pair of shoes, purchasing a plant to freshen up your office space or going on a quick hike outdoors, having something to look forward will keep you on track, focused and motivated to get your work done. *Idea: Rewarding yourself in the form of self-care is one of the six tips for success in online courses we covered.
Read all course instructions early.
Oftentimes there will be something within your course instructions that you need to purchase or complete before you start the course or lesson. Don’t overlook this or make it a last-minute discovery! Even if you aren’t ready to start the actual assignments, 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 online!
Don’t procrastinate!
It sounds like something you hear all the time, but procrastination can be defeating when you’re trying to complete an online class. Online assignments are easy to push it off, but it’s not worth all the stress and worry it can cause later. Remember, the longer you wait, the harder it is to push forward and get it done.
Make your textbook your new best friend.
The answer to how to be successful in an online course is textbook, REALLY! A lot of students enjoy taking online courses because they can work independently. There’s no teacher or professor around to monitor your methods. Using Google or Wikipedia may sound like the easiest option, BUT sometimes those tools are more time consuming and difficult than just using your textbook as a primary resource. Also, any good researcher knows you must always vet your source. Wikipedia is an open-source collaboration of information; there’s a chance what your reading is not entirely accurate! Online courses that are paired with a specific textbook may ask for information that's hard to find online. When what you’re looking for is right in front of you—hello, 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 similarly.
Celebrate your accomplishment!
If you’re in high school, it’s important to remember that online classes are like college courses—especially in 2021. Online college students are also on their own do the prep work and to stay on task. Regardless of when you’re taking an online course—high school or college—you need to get comfortable with learning independently. You also must master the skill of knowing when to ask for help! Distance can hurt you here, as instructors have no idea you may be struggling unless you reach out. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. When you finally hit submit and/or your semester or class is over, it’s time to celebrate your accomplishment!

Ready for More E-Learning?

Once you’ve nailed down a method that works for you, consider challenging yourself to more online courses. Fastweb’s Online Learning resource is a one-stop place for you to compare popular e-learning platforms such as or edX. Some students look to free online courses to enhance their subject knowledge and/or to add certifications to their brag sheet or resume. Make online learning work in your favor! There are also online-learning scholarship for students to help you pay for courses that are not free. Check out a few of these online learning articles: The Top 10 Online Learning Courses for Computer and Data Science The Best Free Sites to Learn 5 New Languages

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