Online learning can become challenging at times. It’s important for students to understand that the outcome of their learning relies on how engaged and comfortable they feel. It also relies on how organized and steadfast they are going into a course.

Tip 1: Establishing a Physical Environment

It is important to find a space where you feel like you can focus entirely on the content you are learning. This may be hard living in a home with others, however it can be done even by sitting in the same area every day. This area should NOT be in your room if possible, as it’s proven hardest to focus in an environment that is pre-associated with relaxation or sleep. If it is your room, make sure you aren’t sitting on your bed.

Sitting in the living room might make you feel restless at first, but over time you will start to associate that area with your schoolwork, in the same way you associate a classroom with a lesson.

Tip 2: Establishing a Personal Schedule

Figure out a routine that makes you feel like your home isn’t just another version of a school building. Find a way to differentiate school from home by making sure you take breaks throughout the day. The breaks don’t have to be strictly timed, they are meant to give your brain time to absorb information as well as find an outlet. Give yourself a time where you absolutely will not go near anything school related, say 4 pm for example. After 4 pm, make sure you get away from it all, even if you want to continue working. You’ll thank yourself in the long run. Do something fun, both after school hours and in between school hours, even if it’s just grabbing a quick coffee.

Tip 3: Figuring Out Long Term Academic Goals

Figure out what your personal academic plans are. Do you want to graduate early? Do you want to graduate by a certain date? Do you want to take a certain amount of AP classes? These are all important things to consider. When you figure these aspects out, let your advisor know. They can help make an education plan that works, as well as hold you accountable to it.

Tip 4: Regularly Communicating with an Advisor

Make sure you are checking your email regularly in order to hear from your advisors. Advisors have important information to give you, and also want to make sure that the two of you are on the same page. If you feel like you are struggling with a course, or have questions, your advisor is always available to chat.

Tip 5: Taking Advantage of an Online Format

The great part about online learning is that there are no issues with classes only being offered at certain times, or there not being enough seats in a class for a student to enroll. You can enroll in any class at any time. You also have options to explore electives that interest you or relate to possible future career goals.

Tip 6: Changing Your Environment When Things Feel Bland

If things seem too monotonous, it’s a sign you need to switch up your environment, even for just an hour. This is an option you wouldn’t have in a classroom, one that actually helps student mastery. Go to a coffee shop, or even to your backyard for an hour and get work done somewhere besides your normal study spot.

Tip 7: Practice Taking Physical Notes

It’s been proven that writing down information helps the brain retain information that is normally forgotten when typed. Make sure to have a pen and paper around when a subject is getting complicated, or when you’re preparing for an exam.


Finger, Glenn. “Online Learning and Lifelong Learning.” Online Education for Lifelong Learning, pp. 51–72., doi:10.4018/978-1-59904-319-7.ch003.