Tips on How to Be Successful at an Online College

Students with experience in online learning know it provides advantages over learning in traditional classrooms. However, they also know success in online college requires a blend of discipline, focus, planning, and perseverance.

Excelsior College offers decades of experience in online learning. The school has developed successful online degree programs for many years. The faculty and staff understand challenges related to teaching and learning online and how to overcome them. With so many schools shifting to online learning, Excelsior recently compiled a list of tips and resources to help students approach online learning in a way that gives them the best chance to succeed.

While different from face-to-face instruction, attending college online college offers advantages. They can attend class from anywhere if they have access to the internet. They don’t need to live on campus or make a daily drive to a traditional classroom.

Excelsior College offers guidance on how to overcome the challenges that also come with online learning.

How to Solve Typical Online Learning Challenges

If you’ve made the decision to take online college classes, you can expect to run into certain common issues. The following tips, compiled from suggestions by Excelsior College faculty and staff, can help you overcome obstacles and enjoy the benefits of online learning.

Create a Study Plan

A study plan can keep you grounded as you move forward with your courses. It involves making a chart or schedule where you can block out time needed each day to accomplish tasks. With this visual representation of your day, it’s easier to find a balance between work, school, and your personal life.

A study plan also helps you:

  • Take routine study breaks
    • Create mini-deadlines for each project
    • Manage your time
    • Identify and complete the most important work first

Improve Time Management

Online learning requires discipline because no one is there to tell you to complete your work. Students must find the most efficient way to finish schoolwork while having time for breaks and other daily activities. This requires good time management skills.

In addition to a study plan, students can also improve their time management skills by putting the following ideas into play:

Create a time log. It’s a real eye-opener for most people to learn how they really spend their time. To find out for yourself, keep detailed track of how you spend your time for a few days. You will quickly see where time is wasted.

Identify time eaters. A time log shows how you waste time. It also reveals time eaters, those tasks and events that take longer to do than others. Some are disruptive, such as phone calls, reading and responding to email, and texting. But you may also find that you need more time than you thought to complete papers, study for exams, or write essays.

Perfectionism. Trying to make everything perfect is also a time eater. Some students miss deadlines by sacrificing the very good to attain the perfect. Don’t let perfectionism lead to falling behind.

Adjust. If you routinely do not complete your assignments each week, then adjust and start another time log to see how it is working.

Avoid Procrastination

Most people read the word procrastination and may inwardly cringe, because they know they do it. While attending college online, students must make themselves complete work on time. That means reducing any tendency to procrastinate.

Excelsior College MBA student and social media manager Emily Miller created a list of ways to avoid procrastination. Some highlights include:

  • Track excuses. Pay attention to your excuses and then hold yourself accountable for them.
    • Breakdown projects. By breaking down a large project into chunks with mini-deadlines, it makes it easier to get through.
    Police your environment. If things in your study area often distract you, then remove them (or turn them off).
    Set reasonable goals. Don’t try to do everything in three days. Set goals that consider the time needed to do them well.

These tips apply to some of the most common online  learning challenges. Excelsior College has also created a page with resources for peer institutions moving into an online learning model in response to COVID-19. While designed for colleges, many of the tips apply to high school teachers. The College also offers student resources to help promote educational success during the COVID-19 crisis. Resources include links to the school’s online reading lab and writing lab, as well as tips on overcoming challenges related to online learning. Learn about how to use these online learning tricks with our Excelsor’s Master of Science in Healthcare Administration.