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Benefits and success strategies of learning online

Earning your degree online may seem scary at first, but interaction with your professor and classmates can carry just as much meaning, and provide even more freedom, than face-to-face interaction. There are also several other benefits to learning online – benefits that we may sometimes overlook:

  • Online and on-demand classes provide the ultimate in flexibility, making it possible to earn an entire degree online while working, caring for family and friends, and staying engaged in other activities. For most adult learners, online makes going back to school possible.
  • Online demands the full attention of the entire class, which means that you’re exposed to a more diverse range of conversation than often exists in a face-to-face environment.
  • The online environment forces you to work independently, increases personal accountability, challenges you to think through arguments in detail before putting them in writing. This improves your written communication skills in greater ways than many other environments do. These same skills will have a positive impact on your performance in the work place, because so many of these skills are required for success at work.
  • Most universities with online degree programs, provide support for online students designed to meet their needs; often providing research and writing assistance, online tutoring and career services through Skype, Google Hangout or similar products.
  • Teaching also takes new form in an online classroom. Academic institutions, the professors, and support staff must find new and enticing methods to reach out to students in order to optimize their online learning experience.

“I started college after being out of high school for 30 years…the opportunity to fulfill that personal goal I have always had is such an achievement! I have learned to live up to the motto that it is never too late!” – Kim F.

WKU Distance Learning Student Stories: Click here

Success Strategies

Even with all the known benefits, if you're considering online learning (or just starting), it's not unusual to feel uncertain about this new environment. Here are a few suggestions to help you succeed:

  • Keep a calendar: One of the best pieces of advice I received prior to starting my online degree was “keep a calendar of all upcoming assignments for the semester.” I had no idea that my calendar would become my survival guide – helping me stay on track, reducing anxiety and frustration.
  • Read the syllabus: Professors craft their syllabi to deliver the information you need to be successful in their course. The syllabus will include information such as how to contact them, class objectives, the schedule, due dates of tests or assignments, books or readings, and grading data.
  • Check out campus resources: Becoming familiar with academic support for online learners at your school is critical, including research and writing assistance, career services, webinars and more! If you’re already a WKU student or about to become one, visit the Student Resource Portal.
  • Embrace your anonymity: This is what I was referring to earlier when I said an online environment can provide “even more freedom.” It allows greater participation than could ever be achieved in a face-to-face classroom, simply because of time constraints involved with F2F learning. Plus, online participation means speaking out, answering questions and providing feedback to others in a new way. Believe it or not, not being seen is empowering.
  • Ask questions & take cues: Professors differ in how much they direct, interact, and engage the class in forums and discussions. Yet the questions they ask are pertinent to course progression and content. If you don’t understand an assignment, ASK. Asking questions is one of the most important things you can do.

If you’re trying to decide on a program of study or school that’s right for you, please take time to read “Making The Decision To Return To School,” which is an unbiased look at five rules all of us should follow when choosing an online school.

Good luck!

The content for this post is provided by WKU Online Learning. WKU Online Learning provides access to 90 online degrees and certificate programs, including more than 50 associate, bachelor and master's degrees. More than 1,700 classes are offered via web each year. Classes follow a term–based calendar, making it easy to stay on track with specific start and end dates. WKU On Demand provides access to more than 100 self-paced web classes that can be started any day of the year. We also support online learners in reaching their goals through campus partnerships and direct student support. Staff members in WKU Online Learning are also happy to discuss options and answer questions. You can reach us at (270) 745-5173 or by email at

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 Last Modified 5/2/17