Just because a course is offered in an online format doesn’t mean it will be any easier than a traditional course. In fact, because students have less opportunity to interact with instructors and classmates in person, understanding what work is expected of you and when and how assignments must be turned in can be more complicated than it would be in a traditional class. If you find yourself struggling in an online college course, you have several options for getting the help you need to succeed.

Getting Help through Your School

Although online courses are known for their convenience, they are often as time-consuming and difficult as their traditional on-campus counterparts. Students may struggle in these courses, just as they may in face-to-face classroom setups. The lack of in-person contact with professors can exacerbate this problem, according to The New York Times.

The good news is that many colleges that offer online degree programs offer some form of tutoring that can be done virtually. Some schools provide these services in-house, while others connect students with outside tutoring services, usually at no cost to students. These tutors may be high-achieving students in the upper grade levels, or they may be educators who have already earned their degrees. Depending on how your school has set up its tutoring program, you may be able to access help in real-time through web-conferences or instant messaging. Students of online courses can get one-on-one help or work with a virtual study group. Some schools even offer technology training for online students who are having technical difficulties.

If you’re not able to find a tutoring program offered through your school, reach out to an academic advisor or your instructor. Perhaps the advisor can inform you of school services you may not be aware of. Your professor may even be willing to work with you directly, offering feedback on project ideas and essay drafts before they are due so that you can make revisions. If you discover that your college doesn’t offer any online tutoring services, consider external agencies.

Outside Online Tutoring Agencies

You signed up for an online course for a reason. There’s a good chance that you don’t want the obligation to travel to a college campus or other location for an in-person meeting with a tutor, especially if you are busy with a full-time job or family obligation. Fortunately, as the number of online college degree programs has grown, so has the availability of online tutoring services. Private students can pay for their own tutoring through the same tutoring agencies that many colleges use to provide tutoring services through their school, such as Smarthinking.

When you find yourself struggling in an online course, getting the help you need can mean the difference between passing the class and having to re-take it. Get the most out of your education by taking advantage of tutoring services offered by your school or by external agencies.