Tips for Success in ONLINE Classes

Success in online courses requires a shift in focus. This site provides materials to help you be successful in the online environment.

Getting Started

Orientation to Online Learning: check out this resource from UNC System about success in the online classroom, especially if you are new to online classes!

Tips for Success

Treat course as a REAL course. 

  • Set regular "meeting" times, regardless of if the class is synchronous or asynchronous.
  • "Attend" class during those times- don't skip!
  • Complete all of your assigned work on time.
  • Participate in class discussions.
  • Ask questions if you are confused or have not worked with a particular online tool.
  • Keep in contact with your professor and let them know about any issues. Do not wait until the last minute to reach out!

Set the stage (video tutorial here)

  • Study location
    • Lighting- good enough so not causing eye strain
    • Temperature- cool, not cold, temperature can help with focus
    • Organization- Have all of your materials available 
  • Eliminate distractions
  • Consider the time of day
    • When are you most focused?
    • When will you have time to complete the tasks?
    • When will you have better access to distraction-free environment?

Use appropriate "Netiquette"

  • Remember the human. Though there is the feeling of anonymity in the online environment, remembering that a human being is on the other side of any message you send can help promote more positive interactions, benefitting everyone in the online environment.

netiquette infographic

Time management

  • Write down all due dates in a calendar.  
    • Use this "Semester at a glance", Google Calendar, or your own planner.
    • Be strict with yourself on deadlines- don't allow them to slip up on you!
    • Start on all readings and assignments right away, and whittle away at them.
  • Create a study plan
    • Set weekly goals- This keeps you focused on what you need to accomplish.
    • Consider using this form to help you stay on track.
  • Plan out dedicated study times-  set aside 2-3 different appointments per week to work on course material for EACH COURSE.
    • Complete this weekly grid to set up times, or
    • Use Google Calendar to complete this plan (video tutorial)
    • Plan to take breaks
    • Be assertive in protecting your study time. Tell friends and family that you will be available when you are done.
    • If your schedule permits, work on your studies earlier in the day. Most students are more productive earlier in the day, and this arrangement can help you avoid procrastination.
  • Struggling staying on task? Need assistance making a plan? Meet virtually with an academic coach!

Reading Online

  • Efficient Reading Strategies- Review this short tutorial about how to make the most of your reading. 
  • Use technology tools to help
    • Highlighting tools in Google Docs, OneNote, etc.
    • Commenting tools in Google Docs, Word, etc.
    • To prevent distractions, use available apps to help (see "Set the Stage").
  • When needed, print online readings and highlight, take notes, and annotate as usual.
    • Use this only for those readings that are MOST important.


  • Find an accountability partner
  • Use music
  • Take frequent breaks- our brains are not wired to extended periods of sustained attention. Breaks help us stay fresh and better able to focus. 
  • Remind yourself of the WHY- we sometimes forget WHY we are doing this. Taking a moment to remember this can help reenergize you.
  • Stay healthy- take care of yourself
  • Just get started- we can make ourselves believe that an activity is going to be awful and will avoid it. The act of getting started is often the hardest part. 
    • Use the 5-minute rule- set a timer for 5 minutes and get started on the work. Chances are, by the end of the 5 minutes, you will be engaged and won't need to stop. 

General Study Tips

  • Use the Study Cycle (for more information, see video tutorial)


You can find tips for effective study sessions on this website.

What if I don’t understand something?

Check out additional resources here.