College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

The TOP tips for online learning success

Being in an online class may not have been your first choice, but it doesn’t mean it’s a bad option. Online learning allows you to learn on your own time, re-review lectures as often as needed, and be more intentional in finding ways to engage and connect with faculty and peers.

But being successful online does require a slightly different mindset and skills. Below are our top tips for getting into an online learning frame of mind.

Become a syllabus master

Robust online learning usually includes several types of learning activities. You will have solo activities as well as group work. Classes where you login on your own schedule and some where logging in at a set time is a requirement. Keeping track of where to be, what is due, and when will be a struggle without proper planning. Especially when you toss your work, home, and other time obligations to your schedule. We recommend getting a planner and plotting all important due dates for all classes. Then work backwards from those dates to plan what you need to do to meet goals.

Check out these resources on how to use your syllabus, and how to plan your semester

For some great tips on staying organized as an online learner click here

Find your motivation

Remember why your education is important to you, and remind yourself of your academic goals often. When the going gets tough remember that you’ve got this, and your education is a means to accomplishing a greater goal. More on self-motivation as an online learner here.

Goal setting is a great way to keep yourself motivated. Create smaller or short-term achievable goals for yourself. A good goal would be to study for 1 hour every day. Then post your goals somewhere you (and your support network) can see them be a helpful reminder. 

As you complete a goal, or even just an assignment that has been looming - take a hot second and celebrate your success! And always know, you got this!

Be your own boss. Manage your time

When you’re in on-campus courses there is no mystery about when class time begins and ends. With online classes, “class time” is up to you! This can be liberating and overwhelming. Consider this autonomy as preparation for your future career. Learning to manage your time and avoid pitfalls like procrastination is a critical skill to master while you’re in college. For advice on time management visit here.

If managing your own time and balancing multiple top priorities is already in your repetoire, you may still find that school time is hard to carve out. But when you make time for schoolwork that's you making time for you and that's a great thing. Try breaking your study time into smaller chunks throughout each day, or dedicate your lunch break to studying. 

Remember that life can be hectic and unexpected. Stay organized and on top of your studies (if you're lucky maybe you can even get ahead) so that if 'life happens' you have already budgeted for interruptions or distractions into your timeline for meeting assignment deadlines.

Speaking of bosses. If you have one, you may consider letting them know you are working on your degree online and may need to take certain days off or make time for studying. 

Learn new tricks. Study habits and note taking

You know how to study and take notes – you read, outline some definitions, and take notes by writing down what the professor said, right? That’s what most of us are taught. But there are much more effective ways to study and take notes. With a few new tricks up your sleeve you’ll be amazed at how much easier it is to take notes and how much more effective your study time will be. 

Get good at asking for help

Asking for help is good advice, but it is going to be imperative to your success this fall. Can’t find an assignment? Ask a friend. Don’t understand the content of the last module of your online class? Schedule time with your professor to discuss the topic one on one or use one of the cool Blackboard tools to connect with other students.

Asking for help is not a weakness. In fact, it shows your professor that you are engaged and that you care about class and what you’re learning.

There is an art to asking for help in the right way. Consider the example on late assignments. Never assume you cannot submit a late assignment. This semester will be bumpy for everyone. If you need an extension ask. Not sure what to say? Lean on your advisor to help you craft your request.

Looking for non-academic support? It is always ok to start with your professor if you are struggling with your mental or physical health to find resources. When in doubt, contact Student Affairs if you are in distress. 785-864-4060


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