How to Prepare Yourself for Taking Online Classes

By Robert Parmer

As summer comes to a close and students enroll in courses for the upcoming semester, a modern phenomenon opens a window of opportunity. For students seeking flexibility through technology, online education is the ideal method of learning.

While online schooling at both high school and college levels has actually been around for decades, it was popularized in the 2000’s as corollary technology centered around convenience. In the digitally engulfed world of today, online education is literally everywhere! Fully virtual high schools, online homeschooling, and of course, online college are all models for education that have become societal norms.

But what if you’ve never taken an online course before? It may feel intimidating at first, however when a rhythm and balance are established the benefits of e-learning are widespread and advantageous.

When I took my first online and hybrid courses, I honestly struggled quite a bit. I felt as though I entered the online learning world blindly. This was due to a lack of foresight and improper planning. Since then I’ve gained the insight that’s helped me be successful in recent online learning endeavors.

Develop Self-Motivation Skills

A first step to making sure you succeed in online learning is preparing mentally. This includes determining how you plan to flourish in online learning, and how setting yourself up for success by developing self-motivation skills.

You must hold yourself accountable for your own success, and discipline yourself in a way that naturally works well. Common ways of doing this are by creating incentives/rewards, staying as organized as possible, and forming connections with your online peers.

Just remember, preparation is everything!

Craft An Ideal Schedule

Creating and holding yourself accountable to a schedule is also very important. Balancing your schedule in a way that leaves plenty of time for your classes is a must! It’s a smart idea to overcompensate time at the beginning so you can accurately gauge how much time will be necessary in the long run.

A resource by University of Alabama Birmingham Online offers some excellent advice on planning a schedule for e-learning:

“As you gain an understanding of the expectations for your class, create a schedule for yourself. How much time you need to spend each day doing coursework? Do you need to spend time participating on discussion boards commenting on class readings? Put it all in your calendar and make sure you have enough time to complete assignments by spreading them out instead of trying to complete them all the day before they’re due.”

Make Sure Your Computer Is Up to Date

It may seem obvious but taking online courses requires a computer that is not out of date. You absolutely must be comfortable with your computer, its software, and the internet in order to be successful with online classes.

It’s also crucially important to make sure that you have a reliable internet connection at all times–you don’t want to get kicked out of an important assignment or test!

Furthermore, you’ll also need to develop excellent communication skills through email. It’s important to understand the in’s and out’s of digital communication.

Related: Online Tools for College Students


Make Sure You Don’t Have Unanswered Questions

And lastly, be sure to clear up any questions you may have about the course and it’s protocol before classes start. Turn to your advisors and knowledgeable peers. Make sure to exchange some emails with your professors as soon as possible, and engage in classes’ forums or discussion boards.

While online classes may require a little bit of adjusting they ultimately give students an immense amount of freedom and flexibility. If you have taken online classes, your input is valuable and potentially helpful to others. Share your best lessons learned, and your biggest pitfalls and prominent conquering moments in the comments below.

Robert Parmer is a freelance web writer and student of Boise State University. Oustside of writing whenever he has spare time, Robert enjoys creating and recording music, caring for his pet cat, and commuting by bicycle whenever possible. Follow him on Twitter @robparmer