Eight Tips for Success in Online Courses

By Marguerite Epps, Webster University Online MBA candidate

Online enrollment growth continues to steadily increase each year, far exceeding that of overall higher education, according to a 2014 report released by the Babson Survey Research Group. No longer are the traditional on-campus classes the only viable way to obtain an education. Initially, the idea of enrolling in online courses made me feel a bit anxious, but I have successfully navigated the process and entered what was actually a collaborative and user-friendly environment as an online graduate student at Webster University.

Webster University’s online courses are held to the same academic standards as face-to-face courses. While some activities may be modified to better function in an online, asynchronous environment, students are still expected to perform at a collegiate level. Instructors are very helpful and provide good feedback to students in a timely manner. Engagement among fellow students is superb because there are so many ways to discuss course work via classroom email, collaborative groups, classroom discussion areas, etc. Of course, the convenience and flexibility of online classes cannot be beat! From busy professionals to full-time students, online courses are a schedule saver.

My experience as an online student at Webster University has been excellent and I would like to offer some tips to help make YOUR online learning experience outstanding as well.

  1. Have “the talk” with your family and friends concerning how you will need to reallocate your time for course work. It is important that your loved ones understand why you want to complete your degree or courses.
  2. Manage your time. Identify those periods in your day that need to be tweaked and aligned with completing assignments, reading, etc.
  3. Enroll in the Online Student Training offered by the Online Learning Center prior to the start of classes. This training will put most students at ease about navigating Webster’s online environment.
  4. Make use of Webster-tools to help organize your day.
    • Set up reminders in the Webster calendar to alert you of when Discussions, Assignments and Quizzes are due.
    • Set Notification Preferences, so you can decide what, where, and when you’re notified about what’s going on in the course without your actually having to be logged into the course.
  5. Download the course syllabus immediately to familiarize yourself with the class’s expectations such as deadlines, participation requirements, the grading system, etc. The class syllabus is your roadmap to success!
  6. Log into your course every day, if possible. However, online course work is flexible and can be tailored to your schedule. Ensure that you spend enough time staying abreast of the flow of the course and its requirements.
  7. Take advantage of Webster’s Life lines:

    • Online Learning Center for assistance with preparing to begin an online course and accessing available resources.
    • Academic Resource Center provides academic resources, support, advocacy, and access across the worldwide Webster University community.
    • Student Resources help students make the most of their learning experience.
    • Online Tutoring is available for many courses when students need additional assistance in understanding course concepts and material.
    • Writing Center offers free and friendly writing advice to all students.
    • Library provides students with access to the online library catalog, tutorials, electronic reserves, and over 160 databases.
    • IT Service Desk is the single point of contact for all technology issues, including those related to email and online courses.
    • Instructors and Advisors are great resources. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Contact your instructor immediately if you need clarifications about an assignment. Your Advisor can assist you with your degree plan.
  8. Stay Motivated. While sometimes life’s circumstances may veer a student away from obtaining their degree, other students just lose motivation and throw-in the towel. It is always important to keep in mind your goal. What is your motivation? A promotion? More money? Higher achievements? Personal development? Preparation for business ownership? What drives you to seek a degree? The answer to this question will help you to succeed.

Sources:

Online Learning Consortium. (n.d.). Grade Level: Tracking Online Education in the United States, 2014. Retrieved from onlinelearningconsortium.org/read/survey-reports-2014/.

Webster University. (2015, April). Retrieved from the Webster University web site at www.webster.edu/.

Marguerite Epps is an MBA candidate in Webster University’s Online MBA program. She has completed several courses.