5 Bad Habits for Online Courses

By Ian Acosta on October 25, 2016

Online courses are becoming extremely popular in college curricula these days. In a number of ways, online courses provide students more flexibility and convenience, and also allow professors to not have to spend hours per week on lecturing, allowing them to put more time toward personalized office hours or other research.

With online courses, students are free to have more independence and utilize their time as they wish which allows them to put the appropriate amount of time toward the course as they see fit. It is an interesting dynamic for sure. If you are not used to self-studying, online courses may seem like a bit of a hurdle at first but, just like any other course, are not impossible to overcome.

Here are some pitfalls to avoid so that you succeed outside of the traditional classroom.


1. Ignoring the technology requirements

This will literally affect your ability to succeed and even participate in an online course. As soon as you register and read the syllabus, make sure you can properly access the course and that any software or products you need to buy are up to date and compatible with whatever the instructor demands.

Would be pretty pointless to register for a class and not even be able to participate in it, right? Keep up on the initial requirements and any potential software that might be required for exams, assignments, or quizzes later on.

2. Not structuring study time

This is one of the biggest mistakes of students who enroll in online courses and one I struggled with at times also. Set aside the time. While it may sound nice and convenient not having to attend an in-person lecture to learn the concepts, online classes still require the same amount of time, studying, and energy to practice and master the concepts.

My advice would be to pick a day or two each week and devote it solely to your online class. By segmenting your class and attacking it piece by piece, you will stay focused and motivated, and excel.

3. Underutilizing office hours

Due to enrolling in online classes, some students may not know how to effectively take advantage of the class’s office hours or might be intimidated at the thought of potentially meeting an unknown instructor in person. Alternatively, some students may think that they do not need to consult the teaching assistant or professor because they are confident they can succeed well enough without those resources.

If you happen to act like one of those students and succeed just as well, more power to you. For those who do need the help, seek it out. The resources are there for you to seek guidance from and to improve. Do not let them go to waste.


4. Changing workspaces

Do not constantly change workspaces. Stick to one spot or else it will mess with your mojo and consistency. Much like how structured study time and a set schedule is key, so too is having a defined workspace. This allows you to feel most comfortable and as tuned in as can be for when you are listening to online lectures, practicing concepts, taking quizzes, and studying for exams.

For me personally, it was my apartment living room couch. While that might sound pretty simple and basic, it was comforting in a sense due to the fact I did all of my work there and considered it my best study space. For you it might be your desk in your room, the library, or even a local coffee shop. The key is to stay consistent and develop a rhythm which will help you ace your class.

5. Assuming it will be easier

If I can stress any piece of advice up to this point, it would be this: do not assume online classes are easier just because they are not in a classroom. I have seen many students shirk an online class and think they could make everything up all at once.

Spoiler alert: you will fail if you do this.

Would you put off all of your lectures, quizzes, studying time, and exams until the night before? Maybe some of you would, but that probably did not work out well. Point is, don’t underestimate a class simply because it is a bit unorthodox or due to any preconceived notions you might have.

These are obviously only a few tips covered here out of numerous methods and strategies. Consult your friends, roommates, and other classmates for tips or help on how to handle the online course you just registered for, or for any online class they have taken in general. You owe it to yourself to be as prepared as possible for whatever an online class may throw at you. Happy learning!

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