Tips for Success in an Online Course

Get Motivated

Taking on online course requires constant self-motivation. No one is going to force you to complete your assignments. And often, no one is in your face reminding you something is due or asking you where your homework is. It is entirely up to you to make sure you are completing the homework.


Read the syllabus

You know it is important to read the syllabus in any course. But in an online course, the syllabus might contain everything you need to be successful. It’s not just a required document for the instructor, it’s for you!


Manage your Time

Go through the course schedule and create reminders for important deadlines. Get organized. Set aside designated time in your week to work on the course. Stay on top of the work so you don’t fall behind.


Check in and participate

Check in with your online course and read your emails every day. It’s the only way the instructor can reach you, so stay connected. Also, don’t be afraid to video yourself or join in online discussions. More participation means more learning.


Find a quiet place to study

It is very easy to get distracted from the course when you are not sitting in a classroom. Find a place where you can focus and have little to no distractions while you participate in course activities.


Do not assume online is easier

Assuming an online course will be easier or have less work than a traditional course is a mistake. Going into a course with this assumption sets you up for anger and frustration. Many instructors adjust for the lack of in-class seat time by filling up 12-15 hours of work each week for a 3-hour online course with readings, videos, and lengthy assignments. Online courses go on your transcript just like any other course, so expect equal expectations.


Ask for help

It is up to you to ask questions when you need help. Answers are just an email away, email your instructor!


Be professional

Do not make the mistake of forgetting your interactions for the course are monitored by a nationally accredited institution. Always remember: If it is not acceptable face-to-face behavior, then it is not acceptable online either.


Understand Academic Integrity

Not everything on the internet is free, and not all course materials can be shared. Never take others' words or thoughts without referencing their work. Uphold your own high standards and avoid cheating and shortcuts.


Know the technology requirements

You should have access to a computer, printer, and the internet on a daily basis. Some online courses have additional proctoring fees or required technologies (apps, software, social media accounts) in order to complete the course. Make sure on week 1 that you can meet all course expectations. Guidelines for technical requirements can be found on the technical specifications sheet.



The image below includes guidelines for netiquette, or appropriate behavior in an online course. These twelve statements can help prevent common misunderstandings among students and instructors when communicating in an online setting.

Graphic representation of 12 rules for netiquette

Free Tools for the Online Student



Take a break, take a breath and chill with this peaceful meditation app.



Find study guides, quizzes, and flashcards in a variety of content areas.



Take your online presentations to the next level.


Screen/Video Recorder

Record yourself and your screen simultaneously.


Time Management

Track your activities to evaluate and reorganize your time management.



Create online flashcards for studying, which you can share with others.


Stay Focused

Collect your online readings/videos, then complete it later without distractions.

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Mobile Apps

Discover more mobile-friendly ways to help you succeed in an online course.