In many ways, online college is a great choice – especially for students juggling multiple responsibilities. However, research shows that students in online college courses are often less successful than their peers in face-to-face classes. Knowing what factors influence your chances of passing an online college course can help you prepare to succeed.

The Misperception of an Easier Workload

One factor that can lead online students into trouble is their misguided perception that online courses are easier than those taken in the classroom. In fact, online college classes are just as difficult as on-campus ones – sometimes even more difficult.

Start your online college journey with reasonable expectations. Don’t buy into the idea that online classes are easier than traditional ones. Know from day one that you will need to put time and effort into your studies if you want to get knowledge, and a degree, out of them.


Perhaps because many students believe online courses are easy, they tend to put off doing their coursework. The opportunity to complete your studies on your schedule is what makes online classes convenient, but that flexibility can be a double-edged sword. Students who wait until too late in the semester to start their assignments too often end up handing in work that isn’t their best, if they turn in anything at all.

Throughout the semester, you will need to resist the temptation to procrastinate. Be aware of deadlines from the beginning, and plan out when you will complete your coursework. Even if the deadlines for turning in your assignments are far-off, start your projects early and work on them consistently. Otherwise, you could run out of time to get them done.

Lack of Communication and Engagement

For many students, it’s difficult to adjust to the lack of face-to-face communication in an online class. This lack of communication can leave students feeling disengaged – making them more likely to fall behind.

Succeeding in an Online Course

Researchers into the effectiveness of online college courses have highlighted the importance of support for online students, USA Today reported. While you can’t do anything about the support services your school offers, other than research them before you enroll, you can make sure that you’re taking advantage of the support options available to you.

If you’re starting to struggle or feel disengaged in your online course, email your instructor about the subject matter that’s confusing or hard to grasp. Find out if your school has an online learning center staffed with advisors and technical support personnel who can help you handle any problems you’re having. Ask about the help and tutoring services available to online students at your school. You may be able to get one-on-one academic help from a professional tutor at no cost and without ever having to come to campus. With the right mindset, support and hard work, you can succeed in an online college degree program. Millions of students do it each year – so can you.