By Alex Lopez

For a countless number of people all over, online classes are one way to get ahead while still maintaining some flexibility in daily life. But, in order to get the most out of those online classes and make sure the experience is as rich as possible, you need to be able to know just what kind of mistakes to avoid.

Like with anything else, online classes come with certain pitfalls that many students don’t know much about until they happen. Fortunately, these mistakes can be avoided. So let’s take a look at some of the common steps you can take, as well as tools you can use, to get the most out of your online education.

Pick the Right School

This is probably the biggest issue that many students who learn online deal with. Because school is an investment, you want to make sure you’re able to get a reasonable return on that once everything is said and done.

When you’re considering a particular online school, you want to make sure it is accredited by independent agencies that establish specific criteria to ensure schools provide a standard level of quality when it comes to education.

These agencies include The Higher Learning Commission (NCA-HLC), The Distance Education and Training Council (DETC), and the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS), just to name a few.

While government agencies aren’t involved in the accreditation process, you can still find out whether or not any prospective schools in which you’re interested are accredited by checking a database provided by the United States Department of Education, which recognizes these organizations.

On top of accreditation, it helps to make sure that you not only have a diverse range of courses that will give you an education in your chosen subject that teaches you everything you need to know, but that the school will provide you with support and resources needed to get ahead as well. These resources can include things like career counseling and job placement. Doing this when thinking about the programs you want to take will help you find a school that’s perfect for your needs and goals.

Stay Focused on Work

Online learning has the advantage of letting you work at your own pace. Because of that, it’s up to you to make sure you keep track of your responsibilities. You can avoid falling behind by setting a scheduled time for your school related activities.

This can be done with a free tool like Google Calendar and will help you establish a strong routine for doing things like reviewing material, completing assignments, and taking tests. Once you’re on that path, it will be easier to do what you need to in order to succeed.

Collaborate with Others

Online classes give you the opportunity to collaborate just as well as traditional classrooms do. One great thing about many online schools is that they provide their students with message boards and other means through which students can work with teachers and other students to overcome problems.

If you want to go beyond what the school offers, then there are online collaboration tools like Google Drive and Dropbox, which lets you share documents Join.me and others make it possible to share screens with others. By using what’s available to communicate with others who have goals similar to yours, you can overcome problems much more quickly.

Keep Up With What You Spend

It’s common to have to take out loans in order to attend school, but you want to do so with the expectation that you will be able to pay those loans back in time. You don’t want to leave school with debt that surpasses whatever your earning potential might be, so make sure you keep a tight leash on how much you spend on your education.

You can start that step by using widely available resources like Payscale.com and Inside Jobs that illustrate just how much you can expect to earn in your potential career and going from there.

On top of that, you can further keep costs under control by shopping around for the lowest price on any needed supplies at places like Price Grabber. This will ensure that you are able to save money in the long run.

Use the Online Advantage

The Internet has a vast array of resources available to help you get the most out of your education, and you should be using every last one. Two of the most comprehensive online resources include the Purdue Online Writing Lab for your writing needs and JSTOR for content that could help with research papers, but there are many others.

When using sources like these, it’s important to establish certain facts in order to determine the credibility of a source. This can include things like the author’s or publishing institution’s identity, whether or not the purpose takes a neutral position, and how recent the information is.

An established author or institution that provides recent information from an objective point of view will ensure the information you use in your assignments is valid and permissible in academic writing. This will go a long way toward aiding you on your path to success in your online learning.

During the course of your studies, you want to be one hundred percent certain that you take advantage of the resources that are out there and bookmark your favorite places so that you always have something to reference while you’re working.

By avoiding these issues while practicing proven methods of studying, you can be sure that you’ll be well on your way to success in school and in your career path.


Alex Lopez is a promoter of education. Being a part of the Online-Degree.com team, he has been showcasing the careers and employment possibilities that may be available for college graduates.

4 COMMENTS

  1. “Online classes give you the opportunity to collaborate just as well as traditional classrooms do.”

    Have you taken any classes online?? I have taken a few.

    Yes, it is not *impossible* to collaborate, but to make it sound like it is just as easy as in traditional classrooms is just plain nonsense. There are generally ways to contact other people from the class, with an email blast for example since the email addresses of students enrolled in the class are usually posted. But not only can the other students ignore you, the professor can as well (or take an inordinate amount of time responding to email, not answer the question you actually asked, not answer intelligibly, etc.–it is not the same as the give and take of a conversation you have in person).

    Many online classes use a “bulletin board” feature where the professor poses a question or “discussion” topic; and students are required to post their own answer and respond to others (usually a minimum number of others). You can decide for yourself if that constitutes “collaboration.”

    What you gain when you take a class online: the flexibility to work (to some degree at your own pace) when and where (particularly if you have a laptop) you want. (This requires the maturity to stay on top of any deadlines.)

    What you sacrifice: You will work on your own for the most part; alone; by yourself. It is VERY difficult to collaborate (on a project, presentation, or paper for example) with a faceless stranger in cyberspace.

  2. Also, before you get a degree from a program that is completely online, be aware that there are some employers who will not hire you because of it.

  3. Hello,

    Thank you for welcoming me to your post. I am an educator and I am taking classes at Walden university. One of my assignments include blogging on a site and I selected this one becuase I am interested in online education and I think it is the best thing in our changing world. I once thought that I would go to school and finish school and then make lots of many. Well, in this world you keep going to school to make more money and you keep leanring new programs just to keep the job and income you already have. Online education is a great creation and yes you do have to be mindful of your choices. WHen I looked for a school I wanted a school that was accredited and had a great repuation becuase online schools at one point in time were critisised for not teaching. Moreover, do what you have to do to be a success and what is best for you.

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