Online classes are both similar to and different from regular courses. In principle, the goal is exactly the same: to successfully learn the concepts being taught. In practice, you’ll need to approach the course from a slightly different angle. Follow these tips and you will be on your way to a passing grade.

1. Read up ahead of time.

Your school is likely to grant you access to the online class up to a week before it starts (or more). This is a good time to familiarize yourself with the layout of the course, peruse the syllabus, and perhaps shoot an email to the professor. Getting the lay of the land early will prepare you for the months to come.

2. Schedule it in like any other class.

Online courses are really easy to forget about because they don’t necessarily have a regular meeting time. The best way to deal with this is to pick a set day and time every week to sit down and do the class. Finish everything you are required to do, and then plan for the next week. Tell your friends and employers that you will be busy at this time, just like if you were physically in class.

3. Don’t put it off.

Life happens. You will probably disregard the last tip a few times during the semester simply because things came up. As soon as you take care of your obligations, get right back on the ball. If you can’t do it on Tuesday afternoon, do it that night. Don’t give in to the temptation to put it off.

4. Consume everything the professor posts.

Do so regularly, and for everything. That includes every bulletin post, announcement, document, PowerPoint presentation, video, audio file, hyperlink, and so on. The professor will probably test you on all of this, so you need to be familiar with the entirety of it.

5. Interface electronically with the professor.

Let him or her know that you’re a human being, not just a name on an electronic list. Discuss your grades with him. Ask questions to her about the assignment. The more the professor is aware of you, the better your chances of getting a good grade. Doing so won’t automatically bump you up, but it can’t hurt.

6. Go to office hours at least once.

This is important for the same reasons as number five. Your professor will now be able to put a face to a name. You inherently become more real to them from a psychological standpoint. As a bonus, you also get to understand who your professor is as a person, which may offer some insight on how to better complete the course.

7. Get ahead if you can manage it.

Many professors of online courses will post every homework assignment at the beginning of the semester. If you have the time and dogged persistence, getting a few weeks ahead almost never hurts (so long as you don’t do so as an excuse to slack off). This will give you time to approach your exams at a more relaxed pace, and perhaps review material on which you were not as clear.

8. Talk to your classmates.

Your online class platform probably has a means to discuss the assignments with others taking the class. You may or may not need to utilize this feature, but it’s a handy one to have. Typical setups include message boards, social networking, and profile creation capabilities. Even if you don’t think you’ll need it, put your email address on your profile during week one.

Optional: Consider investing in a laptop.

Having constant access to your online class can make or break your grade. You don’t want to be stuck somewhere, unable to finish that test or watch that video because you don’t have a computer available. Consider purchasing an inexpensive laptop for this purpose. Many schools have promotions and deals specifically for students in need of a portable computer.

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