To help you get prepared, we’ve asked a few instructors to share their best advice. Here are our top ten tips for online success!
  1. “Go” to class. Treat your online class like a regular class. Schedule time for it on your calendar. Login on a regular basis. Take notes during lectures.
  2. Know how to get IT help. Become familiar with the learning management system your college uses. Your instructor may not be able to help you with IT issues, so find out how to get help before you need it. Take some time and play around with the system so you can navigate it easily. Make sure your housing situation; whether that means a house, apartment, or dorm; has reliable internet.
  3. Communication is key. Speak up and let your instructor know when you have questions. Attend virtual class meetings or office hours even if they’re optional. Don’t be afraid to call your instructor if you’re not getting the information you need online. Take initiative and advocate for yourself.
  4. Make a good online impression. You may not meet your instructor face-to-face, so remember to be professional in your written and video communications. You don’t want your first impression to be based off of an email filled with spelling errors and texting abbreviations, or a shirt you elected not to wear for a video chat. Remember, your instructor probably has a lot of students, so be sure to identify yourself and the class you’re referring to in every email.
  5. Read the syllabus and then read it again. Online classes provide a lot of flexibility, but still have deadlines and expectations for you to meet. Read the syllabus to know your instructor’s policy on late work, extra credit, and their preferred method of communication. The syllabus usually includes a schedule or timeline for the whole semester, so you can plan ahead for when big projects are due.
  6. Give yourself plenty of time. Have you ever had your computer crash or internet go down? Waiting to the last minute to complete assignments or exams is especially dangerous with online classes. Don’t let technology fail you. Plan ahead so you’re not in a panicked, last-minute situation.
  7. Set yourself up for success. We’re not always as good at multi-tasking as we think we are. Be honest with yourself and prepare a time and place where you can focus on your online class without distractions like TV, music, and loud roommates. If possible, try to complete your assignments and tests on a computer rather than a smart phone.
  8. Pay attention to details. A lot of online classes include threaded discussions, chat sessions, and/or short reading quizzes that are only worth a few points. While these activities may seem like they’re not important, over the course of a semester, they can really add up and impact your grade. Plus, any chance to discuss and share ideas makes an online class feel more like an actual classroom.
  9. Do the work. An online class is not a shortcut to college credit. You should expect to commit eight to 12 hours a week for every three credit hour course. This means reading the textbook, reviewing additional course materials, and submitting assignments on time.
  10. Do your own work. Resist the urge to copy and paste someone else’s words and use them as your own. Instructors run online submissions through websites like to check for plagiarism. Just cite your sources and give credit where credit is due.