5 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Online Classes

You’ve done the hard part: you’ve committed to investing in yourself by earning a degree that can advance your career. The rest should be easy, right?

Whether you’re new to online classes or have been taking them for years, these tips can help you make the most of your experience, so you not only excel but also feel like you’re truly a Penn Stater.

1. Network with your classmates

Message boards, texting, and email are often used for resident students, but they are especially important for those attending an online university. Try not to limit your conversations to lectures, homework, and group projects. Ask questions to get to know others and consider participating in networking opportunities and other fun activities offered by Penn State World Campus.

2. Introduce yourself to your instructor

Most World Campus classes are asynchronous, which means you may need to seek out time with your professors. While this may be daunting for some, taking the time to introduce yourself is not only good practice for the professional world, where you may never meet colleagues or vendors face-to-face, it will make it easier to reach out if and when you need assistance during the course.

3. Get organized

The syllabus for online courses is typically presented at the beginning of the semester. Make a point to review the syllabus so you can plan how to fit assignments, papers, and tests into the rest of your life. Many successful students find it helpful to designate specific days and times during the week to study, then stick to that schedule.

4. Take advantage of IT resources

The Penn State IT Service Desk is available 24/7 and is free to World Campus students. They can walk you through issues with Canvas or LionPATH, so you don’t waste time struggling with technology instead of uploading an assignment or finishing a test. There are also resources to help you learn to use technology, access Penn State tools, and purchase and download software.

5. Remember why you’re doing this

When you’re on deadline or studying for an exam, it can be easy to forget why you first applied. Keep a reminder of your goal in your study space so you can see it regularly and stay motivated. And don’t forget to take a break every now and then — perhaps for a lively round of trivia.