Five Key Tips to being a Successful Online Student

Introducing IMD at UWB 061413-2Students enrolled in online courses often find it difficult to balance their academic, social, and occupational lives. As such, we at UWB LT have created this list of five key tips on how to be a successful digital learner.

You may find that these steps are also useful for being a successful traditional student, but they are especially critical for online students to succeed.

  • Be motivated to learn
    With more potential distractions and no instructor or peers to judge your work in a physical classroom, it may become more difficult to stay focused on your work. For such times, it is helpful to set short-term goals with small breaks to keep yourself working steadily. It can also be helpful to set a long-term goal, so that you can remember that your hard work is going towards something great that you really want to accomplish.
  • Take the class seriously
    While online classes are designed to be more time-flexible, your efforts and outcomes will impact your future just as much as a those for a traditional higher-ed course. Thus, it is useful to know what the expectations are for the class; if the workload is too heavy or too light, you may find it difficult to take the class seriously. To help with this, make sure to read the course syllabus (if available) thoroughly and communicate with the instructor before deciding whether you should keep or drop a class.
  • Know what kind of learner you are
    An invaluable tip for being successful is to recognize and understand your own personality and learning style. Considering how these characteristics are crucial for a person’s motivation and attitude, it becomes clear that they can easily aid your success or failure. For instance, if you are outgoing, work better with friendly competition and prefer hands-on learning, taking a traditional or hybrid course may be better options for you. To determine your personality type and learning style, here are a few tests:

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  • Have the right technology
    As an online student, it is necessary for you to have the appropriate technology to work effectively. This means (minimally) having an efficient personal computer, consistent access to the internet, and an updated internet browser. For UW Bothell, most course-related websites and learning management systems (LMS)–such as Canvas–work best with Firefox and Chrome.
  • Take advantage of available resources
    One of the greatest advantages to taking courses online is the accessibility of internet resources while using a computer, which is often restricted or disallowed in a traditional classroom setting. However, it is also important to keep in mind that the instructor and your online peers can be very helpful too, especially for clarifications and discussions. Communicating often with an open mind will help you generate new ideas, perspectives and gain a better understanding of any topic.


  1. Online courses are an excellent way for busy professionals to gain advanced training and certifications or switch career paths. They can also be very effective for first-time job seekers who need specialized training. However, before signing up, here are a few factors that can ensure an online student’s success.

    E-learning has a lot to offer students who dedicate the time and focus to extracting everything the course has to offer.

  2. Self discipline is the main ingredient of success. You say it can be “helpful to set a long-term goal”, I would like to add that this can become even more effective if you try to visualize it. One of my students said she could achieve better grades after imagining how she spent a scholarship.

    Your guide is useful not only for students who are selecting their online program, but for every person who lacks self motivation in learning.

  3. The biggest thing with doing courses online is to make sure you are staying focused and make sure you are actually learning the material. It is still a class even if it’s not in a classroom or at a University.

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