5 Challenges Unique to Online Students (and How to Overcome Them)

Published on May 31, 2016 by arothstein

Taking courses, or even an entire degree program, online has a lot of advantages: flexible schedules, the ability to take courses from anywhere in the world. But it also comes with challenges that students taking courses on-campus don’t face. Here are some of the most common challenges faced by online students, and how you can overcome them.

online study tips

  1. Isolation: A major challenge facing online students is not seeing their peers in person, and having the social aspect that on-campus learning can provide. It’s helpful to have a support network who understands the demands of an online education, so you can overcome the isolation of online learning by actively working to build relationships (even virtual ones!) with your classmates. For example, you can put together a study group that meets virtually on Google Hangouts. If another student lives within close proximity, meet for coffee and discuss your program in person.


  1. Lack of schedule: The flexibility of online education is a huge benefit to people who are juggling busy schedules, work, and family commitments. But it can also make it hard to meet deadlines with less structure than traditional classroom learning. An easy way to overcome this is to break down all projects into smaller chunks, and set yourself due dates for each of these segments. Treat these self-set deadlines with as much respect as you would an actual deadline, and you’ll never find yourself rushing to complete an assignment on time.


  1. Learning curve: Some people are well-versed in computers, but if you’re not, the online classroom software might present a huge learning curve – not to mention other technology that can be a huge benefit to online learners, like cloud services such as Google Docs and collaborative environments such as Google Hangouts (see our post on working with groups online for more information about these.) Thankfully, all of this software comes with learning tutorials such as videos that are easy to follow. Complete these diligently, and you should be up and running in no time. If you still need help, YouTube can be a huge resource for free, step-by-step tutorials.


  1. Motivation: Online coursework is a lot of work, and it can be hard to find the motivation to keep going through all of it. Having a support system can be a huge help. To find motivation when yours is lacking, get your family and close friends on board with what you’re doing. Tell them your goals and let them know you might need some cheerleading along the way. Write down your big-picture goals, like career success, on a piece of paper, and post it over your workspace as a reminder of why you’re doing what you’re doing.


  1. Seeking help: Without face-to-face interaction with your instructors, it can be hard to feel like it’s okay to seek help. Just remember that your instructors are always resources, and are able and happy to answer any questions you might have, whether it’s about the material or your professional future. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it!


If you’re interested in pursuing an online degree, Broadview University could be the place for you. For more information on pursuing your online degree at BVU, learn more at our website and contact us today.

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