How to Become a Successful Online Learner

By Dr. Hank Kelly, Provost, and Dr. Scott Marsee, Dean, College of Adult and Graduate Studies

Managing Time

Work on your class work every day. Don’t try to do everything on the weekend. Life will get in the way. You want to improve your thinking every day. Your subconscious mind will continue thinking.

When Hank was an online student, on Monday through Thursday he worked on homework, studied, read, participated in discussions 6:00-7:00 am, noon-1:00 pm, 5:00-6:00 pm, and 7:00-10:00 pm. On Friday evenings, he didn’t always work, but he was back at it on Saturdays. Sometimes he took Sundays off. Being a morning person, Hank was done for the day by 10:00 pm. You will need to determine your best times for learning. 

Scott, on the other hand, had young children around while he was an online student. He worked on discussions, reading, and homework late at night, after the children were in bed. Doing his classwork late at night enabled him to be active in his children’s lives.

How to Learn

Focus! You must want to learn and apply yourself. Some readings are difficult and require time to process the material, including re-reading to catch what you missed the first time.

Know when every assignment is due and start on each one early to have plenty of time to process it and do research for it, if necessary. When writing a paper, as with even the best and most famous writers, you will need to re-write it several times. This drafting is probably where much of the real learning occurs. Certainly, it takes time to write great, or even good, papers.

Research is important. You must be able to find academic resources using those available through your library, and not just those available through online searching.

Tips for Online Learning

  1. Have reliable Internet access.
  2. Have a dedicated study space.
  3. Manage your time: plan ahead, create a study calendar with all important dates, create to-do lists, set time limits, stay on schedule.
  4. Ask for help when you need it.
  5. Review, revise, repeat.
  6. Take study breaks.
  7. Participate in online discussions, even if not required.
  8. Reward yourself.
  9. Write down why you are going to college and refer to it often.
  10. Communicate often with classmates and instructors.


The learning skills we acquire while studying serve us well in our careers. But, when we finish earning a degree, we need not stop learning. On the contrary, we must become life-long learners to succeed in work and in life.

About OCU

Ohio Christian University is committed to offering a complete education that develops students intellectually, professionally and spiritually. OCU offers degree programs for residential undergraduate students, graduate students, and adult and online students. Every program is designed to equip students to become leaders in their careers, communities, families, and the world.