5 Survival Tips for Taking Online College Courses

Online college courses are a part of any degree program at today's universities. These five survival tips for online classes can help.Today all students should expect to take online college courses as part of any degree program.

Given the way that education is evolving and adjusting to constant changes in technology, there are some classes in college that are completely online.

  • Some students really like the idea of not having to attend a physical class and being able to do the work in their own time.
  • For others, the idea of an online class can be more difficult because they don’t have that personal interaction that they are used to in a normal classroom setting.

I’ve put together five tips based upon what I’ve learned from taking online classes. These should help keep you organized and on top of what to expect from online college courses.

1. DON’T PROCRASTINATE. (OR: BE AWARE OF DUE DATES.)

It may seem obvious, and this is a tip that can be applied to any college course, but it’s especially true for an online one. For most classes that are online, you are going to have due dates that are consistent every week (i.e., all reflections are due Saturday at midnight). Take the time at the beginning of the semester to put all these due dates in your calendar so you can stay on top of them and so that you don’t forget. Don’t wait until the last minute to start your assignments for the week. It can be easy to overlook the amount of work a certain assignment might take, especially with an online course. Keeping up with your due dates and spreading the work throughout the week will help you stay on top of your assignments so that you’re not scrambling to finish something on Saturday at 11:30 p.m.

It can be easy to overlook the amount of work a certain assignment might take, especially with an online course.

2. READ THE SYLLABUS.

With an online course, since you don’t meet with an instructor regularly (or at all), the syllabus is going to answer a lot of the questions you might have regarding the course. Most of the time, the first assignment for an online class will be to read the syllabus and then you may have a quiz over the content to make sure you’ve actually understood what is expected of you from the course. Take the time to read through it. The syllabus will most likely include the grading scale for the course as well as due dates for your assignments and exams. Also take note of the instructor’s email and other contact information so that if you have questions throughout the duration of the course, you know who to contact.

Keeping up with your due dates and spreading the work throughout the week will help you stay on top of your assignments so that you’re not scrambling to finish something on Saturday at 11:30 p.m.

3. READ ANY AND ALL TYPES OF GRADING RUBRICS.

Along with the syllabus, since you don’t meet with your instructor in person, it can be hard to know the expectations about graded assignments. For most online courses, the grading rubrics will be very detailed because they want the expectations about what you are turning in to be clear. Read through them before and after doing an assignment. Make sure you meet all the criteria for the assignment in order to get the grade you want.

Read through [the rubric] before and after doing an assignment.

4. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF MULTIPLE ATTEMPTS.

For many online courses you will have quizzes or tests that you are allowed more than opportunity to take. When you take a quiz or test for your online course, write down the answers you get wrong, so when you go back to re-take it, you can get the answers correct the second time around. Better yet, write down the answers to all the questions that come up on any quizzes or tests. Just have a word document up while you’re completing the assignment. You can write down the questions and then once you have the correct answers, this can be a great study tool to use for the remainder of the course.

5. UTILIZE DISCUSSION BOARD/QUESTION FORUMS.

For most classes that college students take online, there will be some way that you can get in contact with the other students enrolled in the course along with you. Sometimes this comes in the form of a discussion board in which you can post questions, or there is a way you can email the entire class. Find out how you can reach other students that are also taking the class. If you run into a problem with an assignment or need someone to proofread your paper, you have someone you know who is not only in the course with you, but also understands the expectations of the class.

What strategies have you used to be successful in online college courses?

Author: Hallie Holton

Hallie is a journalism major at the University of Kansas and an intern at Smart College Visit.

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