Many students enjoy online courses because they provide a great deal of flexibility compared to a face-to-face experience.

The nature of face-to-face learning requires to be in a certain class at a certain time - with online learning, we can engage in our course work at times that work with our personal schedules. This becomes a tremendous asset for those of us who need to balance work, family, and personal commitments with the time needed to successfully complete our studies.

A challenge for many online students, however, is that this requires effective time management skills. While a face-to-face class is more rigid in structure, it does offer a framework of organization: students know when they need to show up; where they need to show up; and, in large part, the responsibility is on the instructor to organize class time in an effective manner - as a student, you just have to show up and participate. As a student enrolled in an online course, you have much more flexibility in how you use your time, however, YOU are now responsible for organizing your time to ensure you are meeting the expectations of the course. This can be a struggle for many students. The first key to success, however, is being aware of this responsibility!

Obviously, how you manage your time is a personal choice and, ultimately, you need to find a system that works for you. Some important factors to consider, however, are:

  • How many courses are you taking in a semester?
  • How many assignments will you have in each course?
  • Do you have any obligations to a group/team?
  • Has your instructor scheduled any required weekly meetings?
  • Are there labs attached to the course?
  • Are there discussions that you will need to participate in?
  • What other personal commitments do you have outside of school?

Depending on the answers to these questions, it might be a good idea to develop a plan for the semester, the week, or both. If you identify some really busy weeks, you may even want to consider putting together a daily plan. Check out the Resources for Managing Time page for tools and ideas.