5 Essential Tips for Online Students

Taking any online courses this semester? Gardner-Webb University offers multiple degree programs available entirely online. The unmatched flexibility of online courses at GWU and the engaged, diverse online learning community will prepare you for successful life and work after your degree is completed.  Whether it’s your first experience with online learning or you’re a seasoned pro, these five tips will help you prepare for each semester.


1.     Read your syllabi and course schedules. These materials are where a lot of important information about each course will be outlined in detail. Alongside course expectations and guidelines, some professors include detailed information about assignment deadlines and important policies. Write down important dates and deadlines or put them into a calendar on your computer or mobile device. Set reminders for yourself, so that something doesn’t catch you by surprise. Reading these ahead of time helps you plan for a successful semester.


2.     Get familiar with the online platform. If this is your first time utilizing Blackboard or an online learning platform, take some time to get used to its functions. Set up email notifications, if possible, to stay on top of assignments and any updates or changes. Don’t miss something because you didn’t know where it was located, when it was due, or how to turn it in! If you are having trouble getting used to it, reach out to your professor or a classmate for their best tips and tricks for navigating the platform.


3.     Don’t hesitate to ask questions. Just because your professor isn’t there in person to speak to, don’t be wary of reaching out to them via email. No matter if you need clarification on your course material, or just have a general question, they are ultimately there to help you.


4.     Stay organized! This is a key to success with online courses. Keep up with your notes, assignments, and any additional materials. Create folders on your computer to keep things organized by course and semester. If you like to take notes by hand, use a different notebook for each class and create a note taking system that works for you. Staying organized also means managing your time well – intentionally plan your study time at the beginning of the week, and plan time to review for tests or to work on large projects.


5.     Treat online courses like a seated class. While you don’t have to be physically present in a classroom for an online class, it’s important to treat it in the same way. Be an active, engaged participant in discussions and group projects. Stay on top of deadlines and due dates, and openly communicate with your professors about anything you need. You may not be face-to-face with your classmates every day, but you will be spending a lot of time online with them.