According to Davidson College’s directory for universities’ fall 2021 programs, more than 1,400 colleges intend to remain online, go completely online, or offer a flexible hybrid option to students. Only 73 colleges plan to reintroduce entirely in-person classes. This indicates that many students will be taking online courses this fall, possibly for the first time in history.

If your university is offering online courses this semester—and many colleges are still waiting to publicize their plans—you might be concerned about the situation. What are the prerequisites for being a successful online student? Online learning is not the same as on-campus learning, and it typically requires a distinct set of skills, competencies, and habits. 

Here are six pointers to help you make the most of your online education this semester. 

1) Stay Motivated

Online learning is self-directed learning. While you will probably encounter group assignments and other opportunities to work with your classmates, it’s your responsibility to ensure that you meet course requirements each week. You must make the first move and start participating in group discussions if you hope to be an active student in your class.

Self-discipline is also essential to keep yourself motivated during online classes. Making a commitment to the process and putting school first above everything else will help you progress in your academic career.


Remember to keep your goals in mind at all times. Why did you choose to pursue a degree program? Though things might work differently than what you’ve expected when you enrolled, keeping your long-term goals in mind can help you stay focused. 

2) Manage your time effectively

Do you have a habit of procrastinating? How good are you at dealing with interruptions? These are just two examples of time-management issues that can impair your ability to study online. Time management is an essential skill for online education, and you can hone it through practice and specific strategies.  

Mindtools “Time Management Skills” quiz is a short self-assessment test that will help you identify your weaknesses and strengths. This tool also recommends strategies for strengthening weak areas based on the provided information. 

Students enrolled in online programs often wonder how much time they should set aside for study. Every online class will be different due to varying coursework and live session requirements, but there are some general guidelines that students can easily follow. 

According to North Caroline University, undergraduate courses should be scheduled for eight hours per week and twelve hours per class every week for graduate classes. 


Make a study schedule. If you’ve enrolled in an online program, you must develop a study plan and make every effort to stick to it.

Set aside time each week to finish class assignments and activities like essays, projects, and readings. Calendar apps can help you stay organized. 

3) Communicate effectively

It is critical to know that most communication in an online class occurs through writing. You will be able to participate in threaded discussion forums, write articles, and work on collaborative academic projects with your classmates. Also, you can also use email to communicate with your professors and support services offices. 

You may also be able to improve your oral communication skills. For example, in real-time, online conferences, you may be invited to join group discussions or give presentations. You will almost certainly have team meetings with your classmates when working on group projects. 


Always be respectful. Consider your classes and your interactions with professors and classmates to be in a professional setting. Arizona State University shares some helpful tips and tricks for online student communication. One piece of advice is to “communicate with people as if you were in an in-person situation.”

4) Ask Questions

Suppose you don’t see your teacher in online classes for the last few weeks, then the question is, how you can get help with your queries and concerns. The best solution is to search for the support services that your school offers to online students. Many individuals are available to help you and are committed to upholding your academic goals— but you will need to start those conversations first.

Technically, you should be able to connect virtually with the department and resources that you’ll typically find on campus. Some online student services you should use are the campus bookstore, library, technical help desk, academic counselor, and career center. Also, seek assistance from disability services offices, physical and mental health centers, and writing and tutoring centers. 


Attend your instructor’s office hours. Professors are your best allies when it comes to getting help and advice. Check in to your professor’s virtual office hours—often scheduled weekly—to begin the process.

5) Find a good study place

Access to public places such as coffee shops and libraries is restricted these days; therefore, you will need to think outside the box. Consider your overall strategy and what your study schedule will be like. You will probably need a quiet place to complete your daily tasks, work on class projects, and take online exams. 

Nevertheless, if you don’t have enough space or resources to make a permanent study place, make a list of temporary options so you can use all the available alternatives when you need them. It’s critical to set clear boundaries and inform your family about your study schedule to avoid disruptions and inconveniencies.

Note: You also can study outside depending on the weather conditions and internet availability.

6) Be Open-Minded

According to North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University, online learning “takes time to become familiar with things and requires open-mindedness.” Your semester may not go as planned if you are unsure about online sessions and have enlisted because of campus closures. Nonetheless, it can still be a valuable and rewarding experience for you. 

Accept the opportunity to complete your studies in an online format. You can create your professional network, even in online settings, by making close connections with your instructors and classmates. You will also learn various digital skills that are considered valuable among different online industries.


Work on honing your job skills. Many employers are now converting to longer-term virtual working arrangements. They will prefer to hire digitally-savvy employees who can easily collaborate and communicate via technology, indeed a big plus for you.

Start practicing your online skills right away.

This spring’s emergency switch to online learning was stressful for both students and professors. Schools are working hard to improve the online educational experience and offer a more robust online study schedule this fall.  

Students new to online education can now start preparing for their upcoming experiences. Take the time to review your college’s plans and speak with your instructors about any personal concerns you may have. Remember that open communication and flexibility will be essential as we move into an online education system.