7 Tips for Success as an Online Student

Bashar Hanna
4 min readMar 9, 2023

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While earning a college degree online has been possible for many years, the COVID-19 global pandemic prompted an explosion in demand.

This occurrence and the growing availability of technology have opened more doors for students pursuing higher learning. However, learning online requires a different strategy than in-person learning.

Read on for seven tips for success as an online student.

1. Set up your space

One of the first things to do is to ensure sure that you have a space that’s conducive to taking classes virtually and doing your homework. Find a quiet corner or room of your home where you can have a desk, an ergonomic chair, your computer, and whatever study material you need. Make sure that there’s a strong internet connection and good lighting. The area should give you enough privacy and be free from distractions. This will allow you to develop a routine and improve your chances of success.

2. Manage your time

Organizing your time well is critical to completing your degree online. You’ll have a course schedule to juggle and multiple assignments to turn in. When you’re learning from home, however, it can be all too easy to get caught up in household chores and other responsibilities. Keeping a solid time management approach will help you to stay on track. Be realistic about how much time your school commitments will take and plan your schedule accordingly. It’s also a good idea to build in some extra time for unanticipated issues and set up and test your technology in advance.

3. Participate at every chance

Going to college offers a wonderful opportunity to expand your knowledge and develop personally. Along with digesting and discussing course material, you’ll meet some interesting people and hear about their perspectives and life experiences. Participation can be a challenge with online learning, but it’s not impossible. You simply have to be more innovative and grab every chance that comes your way to actively contribute, whether that’s through discussion boards or live Zoom sessions. By taking the initiative to speak up and engage with your instructors and classmates, you’ll reap the most benefits out of your college experience.

4. Be disciplined

To succeed in higher education, you must be disciplined. With online learning, there’s a much greater need to hold yourself accountable. It means that you must be able to work independently to complete your coursework and meet the graduation requirements. One of the best ways to maintain discipline is to set goals for yourself at the beginning of the term and check back regularly to see if you’re meeting them. Make sure that you log in and attend all your classes. This practice will allow you to benefit from any reminders of assignment deadlines and the like from your professor.

5. Develop good study habits

Everyone has their own learning style, and succeeding academically depends on studying effectively. To make the most of your college experience, think about what you require to do your best work. For instance, is there a time of day when you find it easier to concentrate on your projects? Maybe there’s a part of the day when the household is quieter, giving you a better opportunity to study. Whatever study habits you find work well for you, be sure to include frequent breaks and stay hydrated.

6. Connect with your peers

Staying connected with your classmates in an online program is invaluable for several reasons. While it can’t entirely replace the experience you’d have from attending class in person with your peers, it can give you a sense of comradery. You may be surprised at how rewarding it can be to connect with fellow students over video. With a little determination, you can support one another by starting a study group. As technology continues to advance, collaborating virtually is becoming much more accessible.

7. Ask questions

You can feel a bit disconnected when you’re meeting your instructor via video or email. The result is that you may not be as comfortable reaching out for help. Remember that the course instructor wants you do to well, and they’re ready to offer support when you need it. Asking for clarification during class may also assist your fellow students, but if you’re hesitant to do that, make the effort to contact your teacher afterward. Depending on the information you’re seeking, another option is to post your question in a group forum or discussion board.

Finally

While you’re mastering these tips, don’t be discouraged if your motivation is lagging at times. This is perfectly natural. Maintaining your momentum can sometimes be difficult as an online student. Focus on your end goal of graduating, look for the meaning in your work, recapture any moments of flow, and practice good self-care.

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Bashar Hanna

Dr. Bashar Hanna has spent nearly four years as the president and chief executive officer of Pennsylvania’s Bloomsburg University.