10 Tips to Be a Better Online Student

group studying together

While the flexibility of an online college makes it more convenient in many ways to earn a degree, in some ways online learning can be more challenging than attending a physical campus. Whether you’re a first-time student or a professional looking to learn new skills, there are ways to thrive in an online setting. Here are 10 great tips.

1. Check your setup

What passes for a comfortable computer desk for occasional surfing won’t do when you’re sitting there for hours. Conduct a head-to-toe review of your equipment, and make sure it’s configured to help you avoid fatigue and repetitive stress injuries.

2. Know your weaknesses

Do a thorough self-assessment of your skills in basic academics. If you have glaring weaknesses, take steps to shore them up. Many colleges have resources available to help students improve their writing or math skills.

3. Learn to type

Skills that are sufficient for Facebook won’t cut it when you’re writing lengthy papers or asking an instructor questions through an online discussion group. There are numerous free “learn to type” Web sites available that can help you break the hunting-and-pecking habit.

4. Sharpen your research skills

It’s one thing to find a recipe or review online when you have plenty of time. It’s another to be able to find accurate information when a class deadline is looming. Spend some time honing your online research skills. Mastering tricks such as exact phrase and wildcard searches is a great start.

5. Orient yourself

Students at a brick-and-mortar campus attend freshman orientation. That process is just as crucial for those studying online. A quality online university will have a program that simulates the physical experience and helps students transition to college life. If yours does not have a formal program, spend time on the school web site and figure out what assistance is available.

6. Test drive the software

Most online universities have proprietary online systems to handle everything from enrollment to classwork to contacting instructors. Get to know the systems at your college. Give them a try on your computer, tablet, and phone if you think there’s any chance you’ll use those platforms. You’ll get off to a great start if you already know the software on the first day of class.

7. Create a schedule

If you’re juggling a job or family obligations in addition to school, a workable schedule is crucial. Here the flexibility of an online college becomes advantageous. Human nature being what it is, there will be a tendency to put off studying when you’re not surrounded by others who are working. Schedule a set time every day for schoolwork so you don’t fall behind.

8. Schedule breaks, too

All work and no play is a recipe for burnout. Include downtime in your schedule, whether it’s a regular coffee with friends, a weekly date night, or a family excursion.

9. Create a village

Have a list of people you can turn for help in emergencies large and small. No matter how efficiently you plan, something unexpected often arises. Any crisis is easier to handle if you already have a plan in place.

10. Reach out to peers

Just as your family and friends will serve as your local life preservers, your online classmates can become your cyber oxygen masks. Dive into chats and social media pages. Reach out to peers on class message groups. They will understand what you’re going through, and they’re great resources if you’re stumped on classwork.

Earning a college degree is going to be a challenge whether you attend online or in person. Adopting a few of these tips will make your walk along the path to graduation a lot smoother.


Written by Ashford University staff

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Are you currently a licensed RN?

This program requires you to be a current licensed registered nurse. Please check out other programs to reach your education goals such as the BA in Health and Wellness.