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Self-Discipline and Other Keys to Success in Online Courses

Published: December 7, 2015 | Updated: March 25, 2020

You’ve probably heard that online learning is a great alternative to classroom instruction. But did you know that your success in your online courses depends on your self-discipline? Online courses often require a higher level of independence than traditional courses. Are you up for the challenge of online learning? These are the traits you’ll need to succeed in online courses.

You Must Be Self-Motivated as an Online Learner

Online instruction expert Elaine Allen, PhD, says that “students who take online courses need to be very self-motivated." That means you don’t wait for someone to tell you what you need to do, you just do it! In your online courses, you’ll check your class portal regularly, do all required readings and assignments and meet all your deadlines.

You Need to Keep Your Online Coursework Organized

You don’t just make certain all your coursework materials are well-organized; you’re great at keeping your life organized, too! If you’re like most online students, you have lots of other things to think about besides your schoolwork. Staying organized will help you accomplish all you need to as efficiently as possible.

Online Classes Require You to Be a Great Communicator

You’re not one of those students who mistakenly thinks that you can hide in a cyber-corner without communicating because it’s an online class. On the contrary, you may need to communicate even better than ever. Online classes require you to post to pages and forums where the whole class gets to see what you’ve written. You need to write well and also be self-disciplined enough to know when to hit send and when to revise before you do.

Stay Proactive with Your Online Classrooms

Your instructor isn’t going to see you every week in class and gauge how well you’re doing by the way you act there. If you have questions, don’t understand concepts or lessons, or begin to fall behind, it’s up to you to speak up!

Always Have a Backup Plan with Online Learning

The most carefully laid out routines can sometimes be upset by circumstances beyond your control. So what are you going to do? You can risk your grades and your education, or you can plan for the what-ifs that will occur. Take charge of your own success in your online courses and always have a backup plan if the internet is down, the power is out or if you can’t hand in an assignment on time.


Do you want to advance your education, but don’t think you have the time? An online program could be the answer. At Charter College, we have a wide range of career-focused programs that are taught online. We even have blended programs that combine online and in-class instruction. What’s right for you?