The semester is about to get underway and students with online college courses on their syllabus often just sit back and breathe easy, thinking they’ve got it made this year all thanks to the Internet. Of course, just because a course has moved online doesn’t mean it’s something anyone can breeze through. In fact, leaving projects, lectures and even attendance entirely up to the student without an actual class to report to can make it an even bigger challenge than a traditional classroom. That leaves plenty of room for the students to make some very simple mistakes that can sink their entire coursework if their not careful. These are the biggest ones to avoid.

1. Letting yourself get distracted

It’s easy to think that you can get through the class material, the homework assignment or even the big, year-end class project with the TV running in the background or a Netflix video running in another Internet browser.
They are, however, all considered distractions, something designed to fight for your attention whether its playing out of your field of vision or sitting directly in front of your face. And if you’re got one of these things running while you’re trying to focus on your coursework, it’s a constant battle to keep your focus between the task at hand and the thing that’s screaming for you to watch or listen to it. If you’re not completely maintaining your focus on your online college course during the scheduled time, you can make a simple mistake that could cost you serious points on your final grade. The best way to avoid making this mistake is to simply turn these distractions off and instead use them as a reward for completing schoolwork and major assignments.

2. Only talking to your professor over the Internet

Not having to show up for an 8 a.m. class or fight traffic to make it to a classroom on time might make online college courses an attractive proposition, but they often sacrifice communication for innovation and convenience.
It’s always important to maintain a good, communicative relationship with your professor, including those that take place exclusively online. Email and message boards, however, shouldn’t be the only method of communication. Students should also take time to meet their professors at the beginning of the course, especially if they don’t offer a classroom orientation to get acquainted and go over the coursework for the rest of the semester. They should also make time to meet their professor or at least speak to them over the phone as regularly as possible through the rest of the semester to go over assignments and clear up questions that students can’t answer on their own.

3. Just reading the lectures and assignments once

Online college courses may not be in a classroom, but they still have many of the same principals and priorities as a traditional classroom, especially when it comes to home assignments.
Taking the time to make sure you have fully read and understood the material before you hand it in or walk in to take the big midterm or final exam can make a world of difference on your performance and grade for the course. Not only will you be able to pick up on smaller concepts or mistakes you might have missed during the first read-through, but it will also give you a better overall understanding of the course and the knowledge you need to be successful, both in your schoolwork and your professional life.

4. Not leaving enough time in your schedule

The hardest part of any online college course comes from proper planning. Since more of the responsibility for the course falls in the student’s lap, it is not only up to them to make sure they complete their homework and other assignments. They also have to review the materials and lectures themselves on the things they need to complete the course. They also need to make time to study in addition to reading the daily materials and complete the assignments.
The best way to meet the basic requirements of any course is to plan ahead and pencil in additional times to prepare for your daily assignments and lectures. Paper planners, as opposed to digital calendars and to-do list programs that can be used on laptop computers and cell phones, offer a more flexible method of planning and plotting out a student’s time because they are doing more than just typing in a reminder or due date for an important exam or assignment. Writing out a schedule assignment or deadline not only makes it more likely that they will remember it but they can also change and add to the reminder with additional notes and requirements much easier than typing them out in a soft copy format.

5. Assuming the online class will be easier

Online classes may offer a lot more leeway in terms of time, flexibility and freedom but those advantages don’t also mean they will make the class easier.
The worst thing any student can do is assume this as well. All college courses’ main goal, whether they are online or in a traditional classroom, is to strive to prepare high school graduates to enter the working world in the field of their choice by giving them the information and drive they need to succeed and drive their industry into the next century. They can’t accomplish that if the material doesn’t prepare them for the work they have to do to make that happen.
Online college courses are actually designed to prepare students to be more independent, both with the technologies they will encounter and the expectations that their job and the industry will have for them when they enter the workforce. So online college courses shouldn’t be seen as an easy way to get an A on your record. They really should be viewed as a job that requires attention to detail, an open learning environment and a willingness to face new ideas and concepts in an ever changing world.