How to Survive an Online Class

The Do’s and Don’ts of Online Classes is a great guide for students who want to be successful in online classes.

Online classes are typically more flexible, convenient and accessible than campus classes. Whether you plan on pursuing a college degree 100 percent online or just taking a few online courses in addition to your campus classes, you’ve probably noticed that there are numerous benefits to taking a class online.  However, the idea of taking a class online scares many people, due to the belief that they won’t succeed. Some people are afraid they might procrastinate too much and fall behind. But the truth of the matter is, most students struggle with procrastination and are still able to successfully graduate from college. In fact, a meta-analysis in 2007 found that approximately 80-95 percent of college students procrastinate. And 75 percent of college students believe they are procrastinators, according to research conducted by psychologist Piers Steel, PhD, at the University of Calgary (Psychological Bulletin, Vol. 133, No. 1). 

1. Curb your procrastination

Do: Be specific when scheduling your time and write your schedule down on a calendar or day planner. For example: “Biology 1010: Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 6-7 p.m. English 1050: Tuesday and Wednesday from 8-10 a.m.” Don’t forget to write your schedule down for the full semester.

 Don’t: Make a vague schedule. Example: “I’m going to do biology homework for 4 hours each week.” Because before you know it, Saturday night comes around and the last thing you want to do is open your biology textbook.

 Do: Write down on a calendar all exams and due dates for assignments/papers. Again, be specific. Example: “March 16: Business Management exam on chapters 5-10.”

 Do: Write down a reminder the week before something is due. Example: “Feb. 12: Two-page paper on the history of automobiles is due Feb. 19!”

 Don’t: Forget to regularly check your class schedule, as well as your personal schedule. By checking your class calendar frequently, you can avoid running into stressful situations, such as forgetting to write a 10-page research paper that’s due tomorrow. 

Calendar example:

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday


Biology 6-7 p.m.


English 8-10 a.m. Biology 6-7 p.m.


English 8-10a.m. *Next week: History of auto. 2-pg paper due


Biology 6-7p.m. (finish ch. 8)


Business exam (chapters 5-10)

2. Communication is key

Do: Communicate with your professor frequently. By getting to know your teacher, the class becomes more personal. When you submit a paper, you know that someone is actually reading what you wrote.

 Don’t: Be afraid to ask your professor for help. If you have a question or are having trouble understanding something, the best thing you can do is ask your teacher.

 Do: Reach out to other students in the class. Online classes provide many opportunities for student interaction. There are a lot of benefits to communicating with fellow classmates.

 Don’t: Believe your professor hates you and won’t help. This is simply untrue.

 Do: Remember to be respectful when addressing your professors. Good example: “Hello Professor [Name], I’m in your [name of course] class. I have a question regarding [ask your question]. Thank you for your help, [your name and email address].” Bad example: “Hey, anything due this week? What questions r gonna be on ur test?”

Photo credit:

Photo credit:

3. Stay motivated

Do: Believe that you are capable of an A and believe in your abilities. College isn’t always a walk in the park, but you can do it.

 Don’t: Doubting yourself or thinking negatively can get in the way of learning.

 Do: Remind yourself that all classes eventually end. If you’re feeling overwhelmed because you have a rough course load this term, remind yourself that the semester won’t last forever. Just a couple more months, and the class will be over!

 Don’t: If you’re struggling in the beginning of the semester, don’t get discouraged and give up. Maybe the first test didn’t go well or you forgot to submit an assignment on time, just remember, the worse thing you can do is give up. Talk to your professor right away and see if there’s anything you can do.

 Do: Follow the schedule you made in order to avoid cramming for tests. It can be difficult to stay motivated if you get behind or feel unprepared.