How to Succeed in Online Courses (7 Proven Strategies)

Jordan Coleman
Published by Jordan Coleman
Last Updated On: December 8, 2021

These days, earning a college degree can be done from the comfort of your home. No longer do full-time parents or working professionals need to pick either - online classes let anyone learn any time anywhere.

While online learning takes away the hassle of in-person classes, they aren’t without their struggles. Online courses require just as much hard work and devotion as traditional classroom courses.

So, we have spent hours searching the web, coming up with tricks and strategies to help you with your online learning success. The best way to fail an online class is to come unprepared.

7 Strategies To Become A Successful Online Learner

If you’re considering becoming an online student, or you’ve already enrolled in online classes, take a look at the 7 strategies below.

Remember, the key to academic success is to come prepared.

#1 Have Persistence

A woman studying hard

Before you even begin online learning, you have to establish persistence.

It’s easy enough to say, “I’ll work on this today,” but to sit down and follow through is another story.

The flexibility of online courses opened up new doors for many different types of online learners.

While the power to pick your own study times can be wonderful, it also makes room for less persistence.

“One of the most valuable skills you can have as an online student is effective time management. The better you manage your time, the easier it is to achieve your goals.” - Kelsey Miller, Northeastern University

Successful online students are willing to persist through challenges - whether that be technical ones, asking for help when needed, or putting in the work for each and every class.

A good way to motivate yourself to keep up with online courses is to think about how much money you put into taking online classes.

Just as in a traditional classroom setting, you need to show up (even if it’s behind your computer screen) to see results.

When you run into a challenge, which every person will, you need to persist through it. Don’t be afraid to ask your instructor or fellow students for help if you ever need it.

Related Article: How Much Time Should You Dedicate Daily To An Online Course? 

#2 Set Up A Dedicated Study Space

A girl stretching on her study station

Find yourself a space (whether it be at home, in a cafe, or library) that you can dedicate to studying.

It may take some figuring out, but it’s important you find an environment that works for you [1].

Once you continuously step into this environment, your brain will train itself to focus on the task at hand.

Ensure your spot doesn’t have too many distractions and a solid internet connection.

If you have a part-time job or a family, you should figure out how to study around it.

Whether you’re a morning person or a night owl, just make sure to use your time wisely. Try going to a cafe if you’re having trouble focusing at home.

A good workspace:

  • No distractions: Find a place that gives the least amount of distractions. A quiet space away from family, roommates, and technology.
  • Switch off your cell phone or put it on DND: You can always let your friends and family know your study times.
  • Delete the computer games: Having games installed on your computer can make it tempting to play them instead of studying. Consider deleting them or using another computer.
  • Avoid surfing the web: The internet is great if you need to research, but if not, you should avoid using it. It’s easy to fall down a surfing spiral and spend hours on social media instead.
  • Have a high-speed connection: Good internet is a critical component when it comes to online learning. If you don’t have a good connection at home, try the library or cafe.
  • Comfortable but organized: Sitting on the sofa to work may be comfy, but it’s not great for a study session. Get yourself on a desk with a comfortable chair and decent lighting to stop eye strain.

#3 Create A Schedule And Stick To It

A woman with a strict schedule checklist

Being able to set your own office hours is one of the biggest appeals of taking courses online.

But without effective time management skills and a decent schedule, it can be detrimental to your higher education.

Since everyone has a unique life and different learning styles, the way fellow classmates manage their time will vary.

However, there are a few things all students can do to help improve their time management skills:

  • Create a weekly schedule: Creating your own schedule can be difficult, but it really is the key to online education. Schedule yourself specific hours for reading, completing assignments, studying, reviewing course materials and online resources. Set yourself reminders, so you don’t lose track.
  • Time-blocking: To ensure you don’t get behind, give yourself a certain amount of time during each task and move on when that time is up.
  • Take note of all future major assignments: Before your semester begins, make a note of all the assignments to come. This will allow you to schedule your workload ahead of time, and also consider any prior commitments you may have.
  • Regularly check your progress: As you make your way through the semester, ensure you’re checking how you manage your time. Ask questions like “Do I complete assignments in an effective, timely manner?” or “Am I leaving things till the last minute?” Self-reflection can be all you need to improve distance education.

#4 Find Your Appropriate Style

A woman during her online class

Once you’ve found yourself a good study environment, it’s time to figure out your learning strategies and style.

Think about the way you process information [2].

  • If you’re more of a visual learner, you can print out course material and video lecture transcripts.
  • If you learn better within a group environment, you can attend a virtual study group via video chat or a text chat room.
  • If you learn best by listening, you will benefit by listening to lecture hall audio and video content.

#5 Practice Basic Technical Skills

A man sending an email

Distance learning requires specific computer skills. Unlike an in-person class, online learners will face technical problems along the way. So, it’ll be good to learn how to:

  • Send an email
  • Create new documents
  • Download educational software
  • Navigate the internet
  • Use programs such as word and excel

While online learning requires independence, you won’t be left to fend for yourself.

Most online courses will have student orientation programs. These will teach students all about the technical requirements.

You can also visit the school’s website, where they will list their software and hardware requirements. You’ll need a relatively new computer that is able to tolerate technical problems.

#6 Internal Motivation

A cheerful guy in front of his laptop

Taking online courses requires a certain amount of self-discipline and motivation. You need to practice independence, responsibility, and maturity.

Think of a reason you want to attend classes. Are you trying to make a career out of your chosen subject?

Or are you simply trying to better yourself and learn something new?

Whatever your reasoning may be, having the motivation to follow through with your dream is the key to success.

#7 Make Use Of The Resources

A woman pointing at her phone

Take a look at your school's website to see what resources they offer.

Most online teaching offers resources to help you stay organized and motivated. You can also be connected to other students via chat rooms.

Phone numbers are usually readily available as well as emails for lecturers and technical support.

It would be a good idea to take note of the chat room office hours as well as specific numbers and emails. These online tools will come in handy.

How To Succeed In Online Classes?

When it comes to online instruction, you’ll need a lot of motivation to stick to due dates. You’ll also need a solid study schedule and a set of basic technical skills.

Most of all, you’ll need to have persistence and passion for your study. Don't be afraid to ask for help since everyone is in the same boat as you.


  1. https://www.ucas.com/connect/blogs/how-your-surroundings-affect-way-you-study
  2. https://www.avadolearning.com/blog/the-7-different-learning-styles-and-what-they-mean/

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