Success Tips For Completing Online Classes

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Shorter Version

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COVID-19 has mandated extreme change in many aspects of our lives. With recent events, many institutions of higher education across the U.S. have moved to an exclusively online learning environment for the remainder of the Spring 2020 term. Know what to expect and how to be successful academically for the remainder of the semester by reading the following 6 tips for successfully completing online classes.

Online college coursework today

Online classes are extremely popular in the U.S.; according to U.S. News & World Report, more than one-third of higher education students took at least one online class in Fall 2018. Due to current events with COVID-19, higher education institutions have shifted their “traditional” approach of on-campus and in-person modes of instruction.

What does this mean for me?

While it is common for in-person undergraduate and graduate coursework to have some online components, switching to a fully online learning environment is an adjustment. Though change can be intimidating and overwhelming at first, do not worry! Like you, university administration, faculty, and staff are in unfamiliar territory and are adjusting on the fly, too.

During this time of uncertainty, we recommend maintaining an open mind, remaining patient, and staying positive. There is lots of good news for college students: You are still enrolled and can be successful in completing online classes this semester, and you still have access to the same resources (your instructors, your peers, even the library).

Successfully completing online classes

Below are 6 recommendations and tips for success in higher education online learning.

  1. Find a good workspace, and stay focused – Pets, dirty dishes, laundry, and Netflix are all within reach while quarantined. Find a quiet, uncluttered workspace with a reliable Wifi connection. Turn off the TV, and stay on task by avoiding distractions.
  2. Adopt the same approach – Just because you aren’t physically attending the class anymore does not mean you should alter your study habits. Treat the course exactly how you would if it was in-person by blocking time out of your schedule for assignments, lectures, etc.
  3. Practice time management – Online courses can sometimes have the “out of sight, out of mind” effect on students. Do not fall victim to procrastination. Manage your time wisely to alleviate unnecessary stress.
  4. Embrace your learning style – Are you a morning person/night owl? Are you more of a visual/auditory learner? Figure out when and how you learn best, then manage your schedule accordingly to set yourself up for success.
  5. Stay organized and set a schedule – Review the syllabus and markdown every due date. This includes quizzes, discussion board posts, exams, or anything that is expected for the entire term. Mark it in your calendar, your phone, or whatever you use in order to remain organized and up to date. Remain on task by creating a routine and schedule, and STICK TO IT!
  6. Participate and stay connected – Just like if you were attending classes in-person, active participation is crucial. Make sure you post frequently on discussion boards, work with your peers via video calls, and take advantage of your instructor’s modified “office hours.”

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Actionable Steps


Stay positive

Although there is a lot of uncertainty right now, we recommend you stay positive, patient, and keep an open mind. You are still receiving an education, just in a modified form.


Maintain the same approach

Continue your regular study habits and treat your coursework exactly how you would if it was in-person.


Seek assistance and stay connected

Being in an online learning environment might feel lonely but you still have access to your peers, instructors, and campus resources. If you have questions or are struggling in any way, seek assistance and ask for help. Take advantage of technology and arrange a virtual meeting or call with your instructor, classmates, or advisor – You are not alone!


Read more on this topic

You can learn more about how to be successful in online courses by reading the following articles, reviewed to be the best by our professionals: 5 Tips to Succeed in an Online Course, 7 Tips for Success When Taking Online Courses, and 4 Steps to Get Organized for Online Courses.

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About the Author

Dr. Alyssa Harmon-Salter

Dr. Alyssa Harmon-Salter

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership

Alyssa holds an Ed. D. in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University. For the last 7 years, she has coached hundreds of college students on how to be successful academically and in prepping for a job.
Full Bio | LinkedIn

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