Online Learning: Setting Yourself Up for Success

Jun 12, 2023 | Certificate Programs, Student Resources

Online learning has skyrocketed since 2020, where many had to turn to an alternative way of education due to the COVID19 pandemic. Now, online learning is a top choice for many looking to advance their education, careers, and overall livelihood. Online certificate programs are at the forefront of online learning and for upskilling reasons; according to the McKinley Institute, for many “prospective students, especially those moving into high-paying fields such as IT, the opportunity to learn high-demand skills is more important than a program or institution’s brand.” (Read more about the growth in online education) Online learning and certificate programs are also a faster avenue in learning high-demand skills with most DWC students completing their programs in 4-6 months*, compared to the 4-5 year track of traditional higher education. (*as noted in our 2019-2021 Enrollment Report)


If you have never engaged with online learning, it might seem overwhelming or too hard to manage on your own. It can be difficult to know how to stay organized, how to access resources, or where and who to ask for help when all communication is online. However, sticking to the following 4 tips can help you prepare yourself to be the most successful you can be in online learning and certificate programs.

Time Management 

When learning online, being able to manage your time efficiently is a large factor in being successful in your classes. Before the program classes begin, have a planner or calendar only dedicated to coursework. If you are given a syllabus or course overview before the first session, make sure to note any major deadlines so that you aren’t surprised when they creep up on you! For every hour you are in class, try to dedicate two to three hours outside of class for coursework and studying.

If you have always struggled with time management, consider “time-blocking” your day. Time-blocking is when you block off set times throughout the day dedicated to a task. For example, if Tuesdays and Thursdays seem to be your most available days to do coursework and study, consider time blocking 10am-12pm for one task, 12:30-1:30pm for another task, and 2-4pm for a different task. By “time-blocking” your day, you are able to complete coursework in a timely manner and reduce the amount of distractions that happen throughout the day. Don’t forget to time-block breaks throughout the day for yourself, too! 

By getting into the habit of dedicating set times throughout the week for coursework, you start managing your time efficiently for success.

Organization of Coursework

Staying organized is also crucial for success for online learning. It is up to you to make sure all course resources are filed away in places where you can easily access them. Before beginning your program, create a files folder on your computer and name it something related to your course so you can find it easily. Then, make sure that you file away any documents that are shared with you to that folder. When filing documents into a folder, it will often ask you to rename the file; always make sure you name your documents and files something that is relevant to their content. When you are studying, working on coursework, or participating in class, it will be helpful to have the folder open and files named correctly so you can use them when necessary. 

In addition to having a planner/calendar dedicated to coursework, having a folder that lives in your computer will be helpful to keep track of all the resources and documents provided to you by your instructor. Keeping track of your resources will ultimately help you be successful in online learning. Another organization tip is having a designated space for your online learning. Whether it be a home office, a library cubicle, or a coffee shop, make sure your space is organized in the way you learn the best. Best practices include keeping your space tidy and free of distractions, have open your planner/calendar to take note of any changes in coursework/deadlines, and have either a notebook or note taking software ready to go before class begins. 

Through organizing provided resources and files in a specific folder on your computer, keeping your online learning space tidy and distraction-free, and setting up your online learning space before class begins, you are bound to be successful! 

Online Learning

Accessing Technology

Online learning requires access to a computer, internet, and video/audio calling capabilities. Since most online learning happens through sites like Zoom or Microsoft Teams, having access to these three things will be important for you to participate in your certificate program classes and coursework.

Having your own computer and internet is a plus, but it isn’t necessary. Check out your local library and see what they offer as technological resources. Public libraries are so much more than a place to read books and can be a contributing factor to your success in online learning. (for those in the surrounding Fort Collins area, check out the Loveland Library and what they provide to local patrons!)

At DWC, students are able to request class recordings of any class session. By filling out this quick form, you are able to have access to any class session, including any missed.

Asking for Help

During online learning, it might feel difficult to speak up during class sessions because it all is moving at a much faster pace and unlike a traditional classroom, your instructor might not see your hand raised. To combat this, make sure you note your instructor’s email as soon as possible so that you may email questions or ask to meet one-on-one for clarification on a class session or coursework. 

Another option is to form a relationship early on with the other students that are taking the same course as you. Most video calling softwares have a place where you can chat with the group collectively or chat with individuals; reach out to your classmates and ask if anyone is interested in forming a study group or creating a group chat for the course. Most times, there is someone else looking for the same thing and will be happy someone said something.

Asking for help is scary but no question is too small for an answer. Getting into the habit of reaching out to your instructor and classmates when you need guidance will propel your success to the next level! 

Showing Up

There is a reason why you are preparing to start online learning; your success depends on your attitude just as much as your abilities. By completing a certificate program online, you are working towards a goal you have set for yourself. Remembering that goal will take you far as you manage the challenges of being an online student. Showing up for every class session, study group, and hitting every deadline are important for your goals to become reality.

Showing up for yourself also means taking care of yourself. Since online learning and certificate programs are often accelerated, fast-paced classes, it can be easy to forget about what you and your body needs. Make sure you are taking the time to rest and recharge away from technology; it is incredibly important to your success! 


Being Successful in Online Learning through Certificate Programs

When learning online, it is paramount that you have efficient time management, specific organization of coursework, resources, and working space, have access to technology, know when and how to ask for help, and show up day in and day out. By setting yourself up for success earlier rather than later, you put yourself in a position to complete your online learning with success.


Interested in what DWC has to offer for online certificate programs? Check out what is being offered here and then attend an info session to learn more about DWC and how we are here to help you succeed.

Online Learning