Thoughts from Tutors

How to Ace Your Online Course

By Cara Bailey
Master Tutor

Online courses are great because they’re convenient, flexible, and usually have fewer students than the typical on-campus lecture. However, they require students to take a different approach to their education. Online courses are not for everyone. They require a large amount of organization and self-motivation. If you have those qualities then an online course could be a great way for you to work towards your degree. Here is what you need to do in order to ace your course.

Read the syllabus multiple times

I see this all the time. Students rely on either professors mentioning when something is due or over-hearing fellow students talking about the due date. While this tactic may work in traditional classes it will absolutely flunk you in an online class. Online classes require more initiative and attention to detail. Read over the syllabus at least twice for each assignment description. This ensures that you won’t misinterpret the fine details of how long a discussion post should be or what time the project is actually due. Use a planner to mark the date for when each assignment, discussion post, test and project is due. If the assignment is due at a weird time, like 7 p.m., then mark the times in your planner as well.

Keep a regular schedule

Many students sign up for online classes simply because they love the idea of not having to attend class at a set time every week. This, however, can become a major problem because procrastination becomes a huge temptation. If you didn’t get to it today you probably aren’t going to get to it tomorrow either. Schedule three hours a week where you will work on your online class. Either make it a Monday/Wednesday/ Friday class or a Tuesday/Thursday class. If you’ll stick to the schedule it will make it a lot easier to keep up with all of the online material. Plus, if you have really productive Monday and Wednesday classes you might just be able to skip that Friday class because you have nothing to do!

Master your writing skills

Between online papers and discussion posts, online classes can get really writing intensive. Make sure you are double-checking all of your written work. Although online discussions can feel like an informal conversation your writing still needs to be exemplary. Never use texting shorthand like “ur” or “thx”; even in your replies. Always use the spell check button that is above the text box you type in. If your class doesn’t offer that feature then you need to copy and paste it into a Word document and use the spell check there. Your professor and classmates shouldn’t have to decipher your post. It is likely that you’ll never meet your online professor; their entire perception of you is going to be based on the quality of your work. If your writing skills aren’t very strong be sure to have friends and family read over everything before you turn it in.


Online classes are just as important as on-campus lectures. Sometimes they can take a back seat because we won’t have to come face-to-face with our online professors when something is late or contains shoddy work. Remember that the grade you receive in an online class has the same effect on your GPA as traditional courses. Be sure that when you are writing out your to-do list for the week that you remember to incorporate your online classes as well.


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