5 Tips for Staying Engaged as an Online College Student

Strategies for Staying Engaged in Online Courses

  • Get Familiar with Learning Resources
  • Communicate with the Professor
  • Take Advantage of On-Campus Resources
  • Attend All Lectures and Labs
  • Research Courses and Professors Before Enrolling

A college degree has never been more important for job seekers, so students should be able to stay engaged in their online college courses for the best results. Online degrees are available for subjects ranging from teaching and nursing to business and mathematics. There are a few simple tricks to staying engaged in a distance learning course. These tips can help anyone maximize their grade and retain as much information as possible.

1. Get Familiar with Learning Resources

Online classes are designed to accommodate a wide range of students of all ages and skill levels. Instructors typically provide abundant course resources to help new students get acclimated to the environment. These resources can include social media pages where students can meet and discuss the subject matter, so the experience of learning can feel just like browsing the Internet. Other resources can include contact information for teaching assistants who can provide personal help for students in need of assistance.

2. Communicate with the Professor

It almost goes without saying, but the professor is usually available to speak with students at any time, and the instructor’s contact information should be available on the course homepage. While the TAs can help students with many problems, the professor can answer questions more deeply and completely. A word of advice to new online college students is not to waste the professor’s time with problems that can be handled by the TAs. It’s a good idea to save these meetings for tough problems with no clear solution.

3. Take Advantage of On-Campus Resources

Many students have to take distance-learning courses because they live too far away from the campus to commute. Students who live within driving distance can take advantage of all the on-campus resources available at the college. Depending on the type of university you attend, you may be eligible to use student resources such as recreation facilities, libraries, and social meetup programs. If your college is a fully online institution, it may offer social and recreational resources for students.

4. Attend All Lectures and Labs

In distance education, lectures and labs are held at scheduled times in online forums. Most online universities offer proprietary Web software for students to use to log into their accounts and participate in lectures and labs. This software is accessible from the course homepage, so logging in requires only a few mouse clicks. Attending lectures and labs will help you understand what the professor expects from students. Because these meetings are conducted online, the temptation to skip them can be quite strong. Resisting that temptation is an important part of staying engaged throughout the semester.

5. Research Courses and Professors Before Enrolling

Teaching college courses is a passion for many professors, but some instructors are less dedicated to their vocation and can make learning difficult. Before enrolling in classes for a semester, visit a website that offers ratings for professors and courses, such as Rate My Professors. Information from a website like this will help you successfully plan your schedule and stay engaged in your classes all semester. When reading reviews of professors, remember that disgruntled students often write unfairly negative reviews of professors, so judging by student reviews alone can be a mistake. Oftentimes, challenging courses can be the most rewarding ones.


When it comes to distance education, communication and preparation are always very important. If you want to stay engaged in online college and ensure a successful experience, simply make use of the resources available to you throughout the semester.

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