Online courses and degree programs offer a great deal of convenience and flexibility, but successful completion depends on your skills, readiness, and learning characteristics. You can prepare yourself for the experience once you know what to expect.
Is online learning right for you? Use our self-assessment checklist to identify your current strengths and shortcomings. From there, you can determine the areas you need to focus on in order to thrive in an online learning environment.
- I am good at scheduling time to work on specific tasks.
- I am self-disciplined and do not need to be reminded of due dates.
- I have experience setting priorities and balancing multiple commitments.
- I can spend 10-15 hours per week participating in each online course.
- I can create a plan that ensures I will meet all course deadlines.
- I am not a procrastinator and rarely wait until the last minute to start a new assignment.
As an online student, you have the flexibility to study around the clock, but this can also mean you are adding schoolwork to an already hectic schedule of work and family responsibilities. Effectively managing your time is critical if you want to succeed to the fullest in your online education coursework. Where are you lacking when it comes to time management? How do you work towards a more balanced lifestyle?
- I would describe myself as self-motivated.
- I do not feel face-to-face communication with my classmates and instructors is necessary for me to learn.
- I am comfortable sharing information about myself and my prior work experience with classmates and instructors.
- I am comfortable working in a professional context with people I have not met in person.
- I am willing to ask for help when I need it.
- I am persistent and focused on my goals, even when faced with significant challenges.
Online learning is sometimes described as “independent learning.” You are on your own when it comes to logging in to your courses, completing assigned activities and assignments, and communicating with classmates and instructors. While you may find yourself working on collaborative projects with other students, it will still be your sole responsibility to coordinate tasks, implement various online tools and education software, and, most importantly, stay on top of your coursework.
- I have 24/7 access to a computer and the Internet.
- I can use standard software applications to create and edit documents and presentations.
- I am comfortable saving and organizing files.
- I know how to work with different file types.
- I can quickly launch a browser and conduct an effective online search.
- I am comfortable installing and updating software and downloading online materials.
- My computer has up-to-date virus protection software.
- I maintain an email account and can easily send and receive messages, including emails with attachments.
- I am capable of learning how to use new applications and devices.
- I can troubleshoot basic technical issues on my own.
It may seem basic, but you need both a reliable computer and a reliable Internet connection in order to succeed in online education. If you are not able to consistently log in to your courses, the flexibility of studying online will be greatly diminished. Be sure to identify the technical requirements of the programs you are interested in attending.
- I am able to clearly convey my ideas in writing.
- I have a comfortable place to study and take tests with limited distractions.
- I ask questions when I am not sure I understand instructions or need to clarify a concept.
- I know how to take notes and create my own study materials.
- I have good reading comprehension skills.
- I am generally well-organized at work and at home.
- I am good at gathering relevant information and solving problems.
Reading and writing skills are essential for college-level work. Much of the content you encounter in your online courses will include required reading in both printed textbooks and in digital documents downloaded or viewed online. You will also be expected to submit written assignments in different formats, such as discussion questions in a class-specific forum or research papers uploaded as pdfs or docs using the latest version of Microsoft Word. In order to succeed, regardless of format, be sure to review basic writing and grammar guidelines, and look for tutorials that provide detailed examples.