6 Tips for Getting the Most Out of an Online Class in College

In the past, if you wanted to graduate with a degree, you had to attend all your classes in person. This often presented several challenges, including working around complicated schedules – especially for working professionals pursuing higher degrees. This is no longer the case, because as technology has advanced, many universities have adopted online programs. It is now easy to find the right degree program that allows you to take a degree in-person, online, or through a mix of the two. While there are obvious challenges to online courses, they can also present unique challenges. To get the most value of your online classes, we are going to look at some tips and tricks to help you overcome the challenges they present.


A common mistake a lot of people make is not setting goals that will help them be accountable to themselves throughout the semester. Setting goals at the beginning of the semester gives you a guide that you can use to check in with yourself periodically.

When taking classes in person, there may be reminders to let you know of upcoming assignments and their due dates. With a professor to remind you, you might find yourself falling behind and having a large workload with too little time to complete it satisfactorily. It is therefore up to you to set enough time aside to tackle all the assignments you have before you have too little time to complete them.

If you have a hard time doing this, it is important to enlist the help of a friend or classmate to help keep you on track.

Treating the Online Class Like You Would Treat Any Other Class

When taking an online class, discipline is critical. Being disciplined in this means that you have to commit to completing a task and actually sitting down to do it. Although taking an online class affords you the flexibility to decide when you would like to complete a task, you cannot keep putting things off.

One of the best ways to get into the mindset of treating an online class like any other class is to remember that it is costing you quite a lot of money. If you do not show up, be present, and actually do what you are supposed to do, you will not be getting any value from the class. This will be both a waste of time and a tremendous amount of money considering how expensive college can be.

Time Management

The flexibility that allows you to create and follow your own schedule is one of the biggest reasons people prefer online classes. However, that freedom is often a pitfall for many who do not have proper time management skills. If you do not manage your time properly, you may find yourself falling behind, cramming for your exams, or even handing in assignments that are haphazardly done.

If you are taking a higher degree, you are likely working at the same time. This is often true for those enrolled in programs such as this Online Doctorate in Education from Marymount University, or courses such as accounting and software engineering, among others.

It is important to look at the syllabus at the beginning of the semester. This will tell you how heavy your workload is going to be as well as the dates of major assignments. You can mark these dates on a calendar so you know in advance how much work is coming up.

Creating a schedule that you can follow is another great way to ensure things do not sneak up on you.  Set some hours aside for reading, researching for and completing assignments, watching or re-watching lectures, and participating in group discussions.

Create a Dedicated Study Space

Creating a dedicated study place not only helps you establish a routine, but also trains your brain to associate that space with studying or working through your assignments. Before settling on one space, it is important to find areas where you work best and environments that work well for you. It does not matter if that is in a kitchen, library, or coffee shop; all that matters is that it allows you to complete your work.

Apart from comfort, you also need to ensure the space has high-speed internet. After all, this is a prerequisite for all online classes.

Eliminate Distractions

No matter what your dedicated study space looks like, there is always the potential of distractions derailing you. These may include the TV, social media, or computer games and will depend on your unique situation and personality.

When eliminating distractions, you will need to find a strategy that works best for you. That may be listening to music to avoid the hum and buzz inside a coffee shop, or going to the library to avoid thinking about cleaning the house when you need to study.

As for social media, emails, and other online distractions, you might have to take some drastic actions. These can include silencing or turning your phone off, downloading a website blocker, or using apps on your phone to block distracting apps and websites such as email and social media for a few hours.

Find Out How You Learn Best

To get the most out of your classes, you need to figure out how you learn best and stick to that. For example, if you are a morning person, set a few hours aside to study in the morning before the sun comes up. If you are a night person, set a few hours aside after dinner. If you have kids and love to study during the day, you might need to study while they are at school.

It is also important to find which materials give you the best outcomes. Some people prefer to read, others prefer to listen to lectures, while others love watching videos.

Taking online classes and programs is one of the best ways to earn a degree if you cannot attend classes in person. However, they do come with their own challenges that you will have to overcome if you would like to get the most out of them. Following the tips above is a great way to be successful even when other challenges exist.