5 tips for success when taking online classes

Student on laptop wearing a gold sweater.

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Some of you are currently taking online classes. Others of you might be just starting your online degree program. And still others might be considering online education and beginning by doing your research. (If so, good for you!)

No matter what, we’d like to help you feel prepared. Keep reading for our five tips for success when taking online classes.

1. Know what to expect.

There is a myth that online courses are easier, or require less time, than face-to-face classes. This is not true! Taking an online course can be just as difficult. In fact, some students find that online courses are more demanding and take more time because of the additional reading required.

While online courses may give you more flexibility in terms of where and when you do your course work, don’t confuse the convenience of learning online (at home or at your own pace) with ease of learning the content.

2. Establish healthy study habits and a suitable workspace.

Once you’ve decided that online classes are right for you, the next step is making sure you’ve brushed up on the most effective study methods. If you’re continuing your education after many years in the workforce, you may need a bit of a refresher. Even if you have been immersed in classes recently, taking a step back and evaluating your study habits is an effective practice.

In addition to setting yourself up for studying success, make sure that you establish a suitable workspace. The ideal space is one that is quiet, with good internet connection and access to power, and without any distractions.

3. Take advantage of resources.

From the library to the career center, online students have access to many resources that exist for on-campus students. Need some help writing a paper? Need some one-on-one advice to help improve your study habits? There are resources for that, and much more. Make sure to check out these resources early, and take advantage of them when necessary.

4. Communicate frequently with professors and peers.

If you are taking a semester-based class, think of it as a “virtual classroom,” meaning that you should interact with your professors and peers just as you would in-person. These interactions are crucial to feeling engaged and avoiding isolation when taking online classes. In fact, many instructors will encourage online discussions, which is an excellent way to learn more about your peers. Continue the conversation by asking questions and giving feedback.

Additionally, fostering a strong relationship with your instructors will only help you succeed. Brittany Smith, who earned her master’s online at Mizzou, said that while the lack of face-to-face is “challenging,” her professors gave her the flexibility and support she needed to help her achieve her goals.

5. Ask for help.

If you have questions that aren’t related to a specific class, don’t be afraid to reach out to your academic adviser. All online degree-seeking students at Mizzou are assigned an adviser upon acceptance into a degree program.

Questions about your course or an assignment? As mentioned in Tip 4, having a great relationship with your instructors and fellow students will help you feel empowered to ask them for their assistance.

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