Where online courses may have once been the exception, they're now part of the norm.  But still, there are some basic characteristics of online learners that can help ensure success.  Below are some of these characteristics which will help frame your expectations of how to be a successful student in an online program or course.

To be a successful online student:

Be Self-motivated and Driven.

Exercising self-discipline toward your course-work can go a long way. Online courses offer more flexibility but with that comes personal responsibility to make sure that you are completing all of the course requirements on-time.  For a typical 3  credit course, this means that you dedicate 9-12 hours per week on the class (The same as an in-person class).  Some quick tips:

  • Read the syllabus and obtain required materials.
  • Manage your time effectively by scheduling consistent “course work time” into your routine and establish a comfortable study space to complete coursework.
  • Log-in to your course regularly
  • Submit course work on time.
  • Ask your instructor and peers questions.

Apply Good Writing Skills.

Much of your online course work may require you to write.  That could be papers, essays, online discussions, presentations, or a culminating major project.  Your ability to communicate well through written words is definitely a skill that will help you in your online studies.  Online students can inquire about accessing the UConn Writing Center services remotely or in-person.

Have a Collaborative Mindset.

Working well with others is a key skill that will not only help you during your academic career but also in your professional career. It is a generally accepted principle that group work has a positive effect on individual student performance1.   Expect to work collaboratively in groups in many of your online courses.

Seek Help When You Need It and Know Where to Find It.

Whether you don’t understand a concept or you are having an issue with your computer, it’s important that you seek help when you need it. In an online environment, an instructor can’t see confused faces or know if you’re frustrated using technology. Your course should provide resources on where to find various kinds of help.

Be Flexible to learn and use new technologies.

While, certainly, the majority of your focus will be on course-centric, you also might need to learn to use a new technology or two in order to complete some of the activities or assessments in your courses.  Common examples are; video conferencing, collaborative Google documents, VoiceThread, video creation, or online proctoring. We strive only to introduce new technologies only when they support the course and program objectives and enhance your learning opportunities. Resources are included in courses where such technologies are used.

Expect To Be Held to High Academic Standards.

Simply stated, integrity is important. It is a core value in the UConn Student Code and it is a key element that employers seek in job candidates. Online courses may employ various methods of authentication as well as methods for ensuring academic integrity. An online student is a UConn student, held to the same standards and processes as any other student.


One other quick point; Don’t expect an online course to be any less challenging than an in-person course.