What to Expect at an Online School

By Brenda on September 6th, 2011


Most students who enroll in an online program have never done so before. Going to school at a postsecondary online learning institution is completely different than attending a brick and mortar institution. The learning environment is completely different, and tips that work for being successful at a traditional college or university may not translate to the online environment. Online schools require more dedication and in many cases, more interaction to succeed.

Before classes start you should complete the following tasks to be prepared for the first day of school.

  • Order your required college textbook before class so you have it on the first day. Most online schools require reading the first day. You can usually log into your class a few days before the start date to take a look at the syllabus.
  • Become familiar with the course management system. Many online colleges and universities offer free course management orientation classes and tutorials. Knowing how to navigate your course will help you save a lot of time and energy.

Online Community

Being an active member of an online community is an essential part of attending an online school. Much of your grade will be dependent on how often you participate in online discourse with your fellow students and professor. Most courses will specifically detail how many posts you need to make to get full credit. You will need to log on daily to keep up with the lively discussion. Students interact via email, chatrooms, and message boards.


A lot of reading is required for online courses. You should set up a daily reading schedule to keep up with the schedule. Falling behind on the reading will make life difficult because it is hard to catch up once you get behind.


You will need to have a calendar with all of the deadlines for projects. Your professor will likely leave it up to you to turn things in on time. They will not remind you. If you miss a deadline your professor will likely not give you the chance to make it up.

Time Management

The best online students are highly organized and self-motivated. Students who are self-motivated often report that they learn more in an online environment than in a traditional course. Students who need an instructor hounding them and motivating them to complete their work will not be successful as an online student. Set aside time daily to read posts, contribute to discussions, and read your text.




Category: Online Degrees,Schools