How to Be a Successful Online Student

Online classes offer many unique advantages. They offer greater flexibility and save time that otherwise would be spent commuting to and from a campus or classroom. They can also help students prepare for remote work, which is becoming more common.

However, some students may not be tech savvy, and they may have a hard time feeling comfortable taking a class through their computer or tablet. To help those students, we’ve compiled the following tips for online college.

Tips for Taking Online Classes

Here are five essential tips to help you be a successful online student:

  1. Treat online classes like in-person classes. Many of us are used to watching screens in a way that doesn’t require direct engagement, which means that it can be tempting to sit back and treat an online class like a passive activity. However, it’s important to prepare yourself to engage with an online class much the same as you would in an in-person class. That means taking notes, asking questions, and approaching it as if you are “present,” even if you aren’t physically there.
  2. Experiment to find settings and routines that work best for you. One of the best ways to be “present” as an online student is to go through the routines, rituals and habits you normally use to stay engaged. This can be something as simple as making a cup of coffee or tea, or more involved like changing locations to a cafe or library so that it feels like a new activity. If you find it harder to concentrate at home, think about how you normally prepare for an important task or project and apply that to your classwork.
  3. Plan ahead and stay organized. Because online studies often follow different schedules and hours than in-person classes, some students may find it difficult to fit their classwork into their daily routines. One of the best habits to get into is planning ahead and budgeting extra time to learn the platforms and tools you’ll be using. Another good habit is to make sure you won’t be disturbed during classes or study time. Technology can be full of distractions, so switching off alerts, texts and other potential interruptions can also help you focus.
  4. Use platforms actively, not passively. Online classes offer conveniences, but only if you proactively take advantage of them. Leverage the power of any collaboration and discussion tools available to you, whether they’re forums built into an online portal or other ways to communicate with students or faculty. It may feel uncomfortable asking questions and engaging with these kinds of tools if you’re not accustomed to online platforms, but they can be effective ways to get the most out of your education. And don’t be afraid to reach out to your school’s academic and technology support staff for assistance when you need it.
  5. Learn how to take breaks and “switch off” study mode. Commuting to an in-person class provides a natural break between school and the rest of life, allowing you to switch gears and mentally prepare for your studies. Because online learning can happen at all hours, it can feel engrossing and begin to blur the lines between work, life and school. This makes it extra important to plan out pauses and breaks when you can unwind and unplug. Doing something as simple as taking a walk before or after class or building some exercise or a hobby into your schedule will enable you to return to your classwork feeling refreshed.

Just like a traditional education, online classes provide an opportunity for you to improve your skills, expand your knowledge, build a network of connections, and draw from the extensive expertise of your instructors. Being a successful online student requires that you be attentive to scheduling and learn the functionality of the education platforms you use. To truly get the most out of your classes, be proactive and take advantage of the significant benefits that remote studies offer.

Here at Columbia Southern University, we offer numerous tools to help you take full advantage of the benefits of online learning and get the most out of your investment in education. Our support services include academic advising, career support, access to a digital resource library and much more.

If you’d like to learn more about our online degree programs at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels, visit our website.

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