How to Succeed in Online Classes

Hi, friends! This is a topic that I haven’t seen much about in the blogosphere, so I decided that I wanted to start a conversation on this important topic of the 21st century: online classes! Online classes are becoming a popular thing, even in grade school. Already, a lot of college classes involve some sort of virtual component, but some schools even offer classes that are completely online with no face to face interaction with a teacher or classmates. Clearly, online classes are a trend that’s here to stay.

Before we dive into the meat of the post, let me explain that there are two types of online courses: a full-time online course and a blended course. Your university may have different names for these, so figure out what your University calls them.

How to Succeed in Online Classes

Do you have what it takes to succeed in an online class? Click To Tweet

A full-time online course is done completely online. All the readings, homework assignments, and tests are virtual. You don’t meet the teacher in person.

Blended courses are done partially online and partially in person. You will have some readings, homework, and/or tests to submit online, and some to submit in person. You do meet in a classroom with other students and a teacher, but not as often as a traditional class…

I have had experience with both types of classes; they are both great! A few years ago, I took a blended English Composition course. It was convenient because we submitted all of our writing online, and during our once a week class meeting, we could go up to the professor to hear her feedback on our writing.

Online/blended classes are convenient because you can work wherever and whenever you want. It’s really freeing! It’s especially beneficial for those who physically can’t attend school due to health or family issues. But with great freedom comes great responsibility. YOU, not the professor, is in charge of your learning. Because there’s no professor in front of you, you have to work a tad bit harder in your online classes. If something goes wrong, there’s no one to blame. It’s all on YOU.

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It takes a certain set of skills to succeed in an online or a blended class.

Discipline and Self Motivation

When you’re an online student, you don’t have a professor in front of you telling you what to do and when to do it, so you must be self motivated and disciplined. You are in charge of making sure all your work is completed. If you don’t need to have someone constantly reminding you that you have to do your work, you will do well in an online course.

Able to Focus

It’s easy to get distracted when you’re doing an online class because you’re on the computer. It takes a lot of self control to stay away from social media and from your blog. An online student should also be able to handle reading long documents on a computer and writing a lot on the computer. (But since you’re a blogger, you should have no problem with that, right? ;)) Francesca from Life According to Francesca reminds us that we should actually do the reading, and I agree! It sounds like a no-brainer, but too many people forget it.

Has Initiative

An online class is like the real world because no one is babysitting you. If you need something, you must have the initiative to ask for it. For example, Lauren from Creatively Lauren advises that if you’re stuck on a problem in your online class, you should email your teacher asking them for further explanation. No one is going to ask you if you need help, or remind you that a certain assignment is due. You have to have the initiative to go and ask.

Responsible and Organized

Just as in any other class, online classes have tight deadlines. The difference is that you are responsible for keeping track of the deadlines. The professor won’t be reminding you every so often that there’s an assignment or test due. You must be on top of your work and know where you stand in the class at any given time. Tori from Tori Grace and Sam from As Life Grows both recommend that you write down all the due dates in a central place, and that you keep a schedule to make sure you get everything done (especially the “easy” assignments).

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Social Outside of the Internet

It’s so important to unplug from the computer and spend time with the people around you in real life. Online classes limit your networking opportunities, so it’s important that you have a circle of friends outside of your online class.

Which classes are best to take online or as a blended course?

As a biology major, I can safely say that I do not recommend taking any STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics; which also includes fields like biology, chemistry, and physics) class online. For these classes, having a professor explain things to you in person is so helpful. Although an online explanation (even a video solving the problem step by step) can be helpful, it can only do so much in some cases. Also, STEM requires lots of hands-on experience, which you can’t get on a computer.

If you want to take an online or blended class, I would suggest taking an easy elective. You need to get them out of the way anyway, might as well make it as painless as possible.

Online classes can be beneficial because they're convenient. However, they require a lot from the student. Is it still worth it? Click To Tweet

Online classes can be beneficial because they’re so convenient. However, they require a lot from the student. If you know you have discipline, initiative, self motivation, focus, and a social circle outside of the Internet, you can consider taking a required elective online. All in all, if you’re going to take an online course, treat it with the respect that you would treat a traditional, in a classroom course.

Do you have any tips for students taking online classes? Let us know in the comments!


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  • I’m taking Biology online this semester :/ I always find it easier to focus on a class with headphones playing classical music or nothing at all haha.

    Alix |

    • Hey Alix! Good luck with your biology class! It’s a difficult subject, so be patient with yourself and give yourself plenty of time to digest the material. If you have any problems, contact your teacher right away 🙂

  • I love this! I have taken several online courses in college, and I’m excited to take both digital marketing and web design/coding online this semester! I love online classes because I can do them at my own pace and on my own schedule.
    My favorite online class was actually a math class. I really liked being able to move through the material at my own pace. Of course, I often find myself getting bored in actual math classes when the professor gives several examples because I usually pick it up pretty quick, so online was the way to go for me. My biggest tip for taking online classes is to figure out what works best for you, because it’s obviously different for everyone!


    • Hey Kym! I’m so glad you liked this post. Congrats on doing so well in an online math class! Good luck in your 2 online classes this semester. You gave some pretty good advice, there: it DOES depend on the person because what works for someone may not work for someone else. I just tried to include in this post what would work the majority. Thanks for stopping by 🙂