The best ways to prep students for an online education

The best ways to prep students for an online education

In the past, attending college meant attending in person – which created significant barriers for working professionals needing to balance school and a full-time job.

Today, online education programs are plentiful, making it easy for students to plan around their work and family schedules. But before online learners can succeed in the virtual classroom, they’ll first need to do their homework.

Questions students should ask

Traditional classroom settings aren’t right for all learners. But neither are online environments. Before students begin, it’s important to assess whether online classes are a fit.

Students can take self-directed online readiness assessments to decide whether online college courses are right for them.

Necessary tech skills

A personal computer with updated software and reliable internet access are essential to online learning, but students will need a few more technical proficiencies to be successful.

For the majority of online courses, it’s helpful for students to have some experience:


  • Performing basic computer functions
  • Communicating and sending attachments via email
  • Using software like Microsoft Office or iWork
  • Downloading, saving and uploading files
  • Researching on the internet


Required reading/writing skills

There’s no two ways around it; online courses are text-heavy. Since most lectures are written, students will need to bring their reading A-game.

The same goes for writing. Penning thoughtful responses to lesson materials, discussion prompts and assignments are usually key.

If experiencing a learning difference like dyslexia, students should talk to their counselor and professors before entering the virtual classroom.

Helpful time management skills

Online learning makes it easy for students to create their own schedules. However, with great freedom comes great responsibility.

Balancing work responsibilities, family commitments and scholastic deadlines require solid time management skills.

ICS Canada suggests online students use these time management tips to say on track.

Interpersonal skills needed

One of the biggest perks of any college experience, online or otherwise, is connecting with fellow students. Participation with peers typically counts for a large portion of a student’s overall grade. This might mean commenting on discussion boards, giving feedback another’s work or organizing an online study group.

Sharing frequently and authentically can help students make friends and professional connections that last long after the semester ends.

Time and money are life’s biggest gatekeepers, especially for higher education seekers. But online colleges are changing that. With the above skills, students are more likely to thrive in online education environments, their careers and beyond.

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