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How to Succeed in Your Online Classes This Fall

Monthly Checklist for Online Classes Following a Traditional Semester System


Young woman using laptop in library
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If you’re taking online classes this fall, this month-by-month schedule can help you plan for success. Although it can be used by anyone, the schedule works best for students in online classes following a traditional semester system.

Plan ahead and make your fall semester the best yet.


  • After reading through your online college’s degree requirements, call a counselor and discuss which courses to take this fall. Remember, some courses are only offered during certain semesters.
  • Register for your online classes. Print off a hard copy of your schedule and keep it for future reference.
  • Buy your textbooks in advance to get a good deal (don’t forget to consider return policies).
  • If your online college requires supervised testing, find a proctor or testing center near you.
  • Upgrade your computer. Your online college should list the hardware / software requirements on their website. Follow their guidelines to make sure you will be able to access your courses when school begins.
  • Make sure your financial aid or any tuition payment programs are in order.


  • Jump right in. Become an active member of your online college by participating in online discussions and emailing your professor with any questions.
  • After your first week, evaluate your online class schedule. Is your workload too challenging? Too light? Now is the time to make changes.
  • Drop any unwanted online classes by the required drop date to avoid having a “W” on your transcript.
  • Write down all of your long term assignments and exams in a planner.
  • Establish a regular study time, free of distractions and interruptions. Let your family members and work associates know when you will be unavailable.


  • Keep up the good work. Some students let their studies slip during the last weeks of October and the first of November. Don’t let that happen to you.
  • If you’re struggling in any of your online classes, talk with the instructor or a school counselor to seek solutions. Your online college may offer access to virtual tutors or you may need to seek outside assistance.
  • Study and take your mid-terms. These mid-semester exams can make up a big portion of your grade. Review your notes and know what the instructor expects before taking any test.
  • Begin your final papers. Many online classes require an essay to be submitted at the end of the semester. If you will have a paper due, start your research and outlining now.
  • Start thinking about next semester’s online classes. Winter semester courses are only a couple months away. Know what you are going to take and register as soon as you’re permitted.


  • Balance online college with other responsibilities. The winter holiday season begins this month, making it difficult to balance assignments with family get-togethers and work obligations. Set aside extra time for your online class work and stick to a schedule.
  • Complete your final paper. If you have an essay due at the end of the semester, finish it in November to avoid last-minute stress.
  • Begin studying for finals. It’s only a few weeks before the semester ends. Begin reviewing your notes / reading assignments now.


  • Don’t stress. Unhealthy habits such as skipping sleep and eating poorly may hamper your performance on your finals. Studying is important, but remember to keep a healthy perspective.
  • Ace your last tests and turn in any semester papers.
  • Make sure you have the contact information for professors and peers you want to keep in touch with. School contacts can often evolve into worthwhile friendships or valuable business connections.
  • Relax. After a semester of hard work on your online classes, you deserve a break.
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