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How Can You Get the Most Out of an Online College Program?

Even if you had never taken an online course prior to the pandemic, you probably understand them a bit better now. But unlike classes hastily thrown online because of a health crisis, well-developed online programs offer some significant advantages to their traditional courses. If your taste of online learning left you wanting a little more, make sure you set yourself up for success and get the most out of all online learning can offer. After all, their increased flexibility lets you learn when and where it is convenient for you. You set the pace based on your personal goals.

Tips to Maximize Your Online Learning

There are three main types of online learning formats: synchronous, asynchronous, and hybrid. Each has its benefits and challenges. Synchronous courses are built on real-time interaction between instructor and student. Your online class may meet via Zoom or Teams one evening per week. Alternatively, in asynchronous courses, an instructor records lectures, creates assignments and content, and tasks students with watching and completing them on their own time. Finally, hybrid courses blend both online and in-person instruction. Here are some tips you can use to improve your experience in any type of online format.

  • Brush Up on Your Tech Skills: Online learning doesn’t take expert technology skills, but you should have a basic knowledge of the internet and computers before enrolling. Know how to create new documents, conduct research online, participate in chat and video conferencing, and build and give presentations remotely.
  • Create a Productive Online Study Environment: Make a place inside your home that you can dedicate solely to your studies. Equip it with the right technology and tools, from software on your computer to notebooks and pencils to help you sketch out ideas and assignments. Make sure the environment is free from distraction, quiet, and comfortable enough for you to spend long hours there.
  • Get and Stay Organized to Succeed in Online Learning: To succeed in an online classroom, you need to stay organized, work independently, and consistently hit deadlines. Put your schoolwork first and set aside dedicated time each week for each class. Use a calendar or app and transfer assignments, tests, and due dates directly from course syllabi to your tool. You can even set alerts to let you know when something important is coming due.
  • Overcommunicate in Your Online Class: There may not be actual face time in a virtual setting, but there are plenty of ways to get in touch, stay in touch, and stay up with what’s going on in all your classes. Check your online portal every day and reach out through it or via email and chat. Be the one speaking up in class and adding your virtual presence to discussions and forums. Introduce yourself to your professor on day one and take advantage of their office hours. Join any extracurricular activities you can, including clubs and service projects. This will help you better connect and grow your network. Know and be known.
  • Ask Lots of Questions in Your Online Classroom: Instructors, other students, learning and advising resources — these people are there to help you learn better. Take advantage of them and ask them questions often. If something doesn’t make sense to you, ask sooner, rather than later. If you need more help, ask. Be proactive about getting the help you need, and you’ll prevent your grades from slipping.
  • Make Online Connections: In-person learning has a lot of built-in opportunities to connect with fellow classmates and instructors. In an online format, the opportunities are still there; you just have to seek them out yourself. Make an effort to connect with people in and outside of your program. Growing your network is a big part of college and can help you later in your career.
  • Take Care of Yourself: Don’t spend hours and hours on end in front of your computer. Take regular breaks, get exercise, and recharge. It may feel tough to take time away but staying fresh can mean the difference between burnout and excelling.

What Type of Learner Thrives in an Online Environment?

Before you consider an online college program, decide if it will fit the way you learn. Not everyone will excel in an online format. But many programs are also more interactive and supportive than they once were. Think about what type of learner you are and how much you might be able to adapt to the virtual environment. Do you work well on your own? Are you good at hitting deadlines? Do you prefer hands-on learning or are you pretty comfortable when you learn through reading and writing? Online learning can work for most learners but may be a more natural fit for visual and auditory learning styles. If you do end up enrolling in an online program, think about how you can best leverage your preferred learning style.


At Bluefield University, we offer online associate, bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. Our Christian values help to deliver a balanced collegiate experience, built on academics, community, and spirituality. We help prepare graduates for fulfilling service careers in a variety of fields. Inquire now to learn about the college, its mission, and all our programs.

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