Online programs can be an excellent option for students with a busy lifestyle, especially those balancing school, work, and family. Nevertheless, if you are new to online classes, you might wonder how they differ from on-campus courses. Here are some hacks students wished they had known before starting an online program. 

Structure Your Own Schedule 

Unlike the rigidity of a classroom environment, online classes allow for greater flexibility—however, they also require a lot of self-direction. Determining the learning style and course loads that work best for you is essential. Start by identifying the strategies that worked well for you in in-person classes, which can also help you determine how to structure your online learning routine. For example, some students complete assignments more effectively in bulk, while others like to work a little at a time. 

Learn Time Management 

Although it may be tempting to put off work when you have a flexible schedule, it will eventually build up and be difficult to finish. Avoid procrastinating and multitasking. Keeping a calendar and being conscientious of upcoming deadlines will help keep you at an even pace. Since your course materials are online, you can always revisit lectures if you find yourself momentarily distracted, unlike in a physical classroom. 

“Just make sure you have your routine. Break down your week [based on] when you can get your classwork done.” 
Marco Zamora, online Superintendent Certification student at UT Permian Basin 

Set Up a Workplace 

Setting up a workplace for your studies can help you set boundaries between your personal life and school, which is essential to encouraging a productive mindset. Although it may be tempting to study for courses from the comfort of a sofa or bedroom, a workplace will help you minimize distractions and help you “shut off” after school.  

Engage With Peers and Faculty Members 

Online students without close friends and family outside of school may feel increased social isolation. Therefore, it’s important to keep engaged with your professors and your peers. Online classes are becoming more technologically convenient, with an increasing variety of ways to interact with your teacher and peers online. However, you still have to be proactive in getting in touch with your peers, such as reaching out, participating in group projects, discussing assignments, and even meeting up if you live close by. Engaging with your teacher and peers—via email, text, or online message board—will help you keep motivated and feel less isolated. 

“I proactively try to engage with the students as much as possible in the online environment, whether through videos, video calls, or simply taking more time with feedback to each individual student.” 
Ryan Peckham, online BBA in management faculty at UT Permian Basin 

Stay Up to Date on Technology 

Before beginning an online education, it’s important to possess a good working computer with a stable high-speed internet connection. Class requirements vary, but you’ll usually be required to attend Zoom sessions or access other online platforms. Slow Wi-Fi or connection difficulties can be a real problem when submitting homework on a deadline, downloading documents, connecting to a Zoom class, or taking a test. It’s important to have IT support, which your online college will usually provide. 

Stay Committed 

Online school may be flexible and more convenient than in-person classes, but it can be just as stressful. Learning how to organize your time, staying committed to your classes, turning in projects before the deadline, and establishing a personal workspace can alleviate stress and help you make the most of your virtual education.  

Take Advantage of All Online Platforms 

The need for more personalized learning online has led to more dynamic interactive media content. These resources are readily available and allow students to learn faster and with higher rates of engagement, rather than listening to a teacher in a classroom.  

“I would recommend the online learning format to anyone who feels comfortable learning via technology, who has a schedule or distance issue that prevents face-to-face learning, or who enjoys the online learning format as opposed to face-to-face teaching.” 
Stephanie Green, primary school teacher and graduate of the online MA in literacy program at UT Permian Basin 

Convenient Online Learning at UT Permian Basin 

The University of Texas Permian Basin offers over 40 online programs with six start dates throughout the year. Choose whichever program suits your interests and lifestyle best! Our online classes are asynchronous, personable, and flexible and are conveniently accessible on Canvas.  

Our immersive online management system, Canvas, offers access to any and all online resources you may need—including student support services, meeting with academic advisors, or visiting our online library for research. And if you can’t finish your degree in the allotted time, most of our programs allow you to take as much time as you need! 

When you’re ready to log in for the first time, our online student checklist will take you through your first day step-by-step. We’re committed to giving you the best possible online experience. Join the Falcon Family tradition and see for yourself what an online education can do for you!