Preparing for Online Courses

5 Tips to Help You Get the Most Out of Your UC Online Education

Wherever, whenever, however — that’s the draw of the online classroom. By departing from the traditional learning setting, you’re able to integrate your studies into your schedule at your convenience, all while working to make a better life for you and your family. Plus, without having to attend classes in person, distance learning affords you access to top programs across the country that might’ve otherwise been inaccessible to you or, at least, highly inconvenient. But while the flexibility of online courses can be extremely helpful to busy students, that same freedom can create unexpected pressures — and it’s up to you to look beyond them and keep yourself on track. So, if you’re considering taking an online course at UC (or you’re already enrolled in one) the following tips can help you address their unique challenges to get you the most out of your online education.

Tip 1: Hold Yourself Accountable

Online learning may offer flexibility and freedom, but it lacks the guiding structure of traditional class schedules and teacher supervision — meaning it’s your responsibility to meet due dates and make sure you’ve allotted enough time to complete your work. Aside from being organized, proactive, and self-aware, below are five strategies for holding yourself accountable.

  • Familiarize yourself with the course syllabus during the first week of classes.
  • Create a weekly study calendar to stay on top of upcoming assignments.
  • Pair up with a fellow classmate to check in as your accountability partner.
  • Read through our ten study tips to help manage stress and find success.
  • Take time to learn and familiarize yourself with Canvas — the UC Online learning management system.

Tip 2: Eliminate Distractions

You’ll likely be faced with disruption after disruption throughout your remote education, many of which can diminish productivity and derail your studies. Because of this, it’s vital to create a learning structure that helps you maintain your academic responsibilities and optimize your success as an online student. Below are three strategies to help you eliminate distractions and stay on track.

  • Work at a local coffee shop or library to prevent the urge to multitask at home.
  • Turn your cell phone to do-not-disturb to avoid texts, calls, and notifications.
  • Use applications such as Cold Turkey or Freedom to block apps or websites that compete for your attention.

Tip 3: Actively Participate

When it comes to gaining new knowledge and skills, participation is key — no matter if you’re learning online or in person. By engaging heartily with subject matter, you’ll be pushed to develop a higher level of thinking that can lead to thought-provoking questions, increased comprehension, and enriched relationships between yourself, your peers, and your professors. Below are four strategies to help encourage your active participation.

  • Set a goal (and put a reminder on your phone) to check in on class discussion threads.
  • Read what your peers and professors are saying in course forums to better understand materials and, if you have a question, ask for clarification.
  • Email your professor and be proactive in asking for help if you feel yourself falling behind.
  • Be active in group projects by helping your group to get started, get organized, and get the project done.

Tip 4: Make Connections

Most online courses are built around the concept of collaboration, with faculty and staff encouraging students to work together to complete assignments and discuss lessons. These connections are an invaluable resource when preparing for exams, asking for feedback, and getting through difficult times — and as online platforms continue to develop, you’re likely to be provided with increasing ways to interact, network, and build relationships. Below are three current strategies for making connections.

  • Collect contact information from friends and classmates so you can talk to each other about how you’re doing, as well as school projects and assignments.
  • Find out if anyone lives close by and, if so, try to meet in person for coffee or a study group session.
  • Get in touch with your UC Online enrollment service advisors, student success coordinators, and faculty advisors for guidance and support.

Tip 5: Take Care of Yourself

Burn-out is a common condition in higher education, especially for online students who are trying to juggle personal, professional, and academic responsibilities. To avoid it, it’s important to remember that time for yourself is just as important as time spent balancing your commitments. But self-care isn’t something that happens on its own — it’s something that must be intentionally incorporated into your daily routine, and the following five strategies can help you practice it.

  • Stay healthy by getting adequate rest, nutrition, and exercise.
  • Monitor your self-talk and stay positive.
  • Schedule time to care for yourself and spend time with your friends and family.
  • Keep a growth mindset and remember that your success has as much to do with your effort as it has to do with your ability.
  • Remember the goal you’re working toward as you move through the challenges of being an online student.

Support From Application Through Graduation

Distance learning is an irreplaceable opportunity: it allows you to learn whenever, wherever, and however works best for you, making it easier to earn your degree or certificate while balancing work and family commitments. And while it can present unique challenges if you’re not prepared, we at UC Online have the experience, resources, and drive to support you from your application through your graduation, ensuring you’re successful each step along the way.

So — are you ready to learn more? Explore our online programs to discover how you can achieve your goals with a degree from the University of Cincinnati Online; or take the first step in advancing your career by beginning your application today.

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Need additional student resources?
Already an online student? UC Online has additional tips and tricks to ensure you are on the path to success. Check out our Student Resources section for what you need to maximize your learning.
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