Are online courses right for you?

Trying to get to the bottom of this tough question? Let’s start with the big picture. Are you looking for a world-class education that fits your life (instead of the other way around)? Are you driven? Curious? Unconventional? Do you prefer to learn in your living room as opposed to a lecture hall? Are you ready to take an active role in your education and start moving toward your next chapter? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, UW Colleges Online may be right for you.

Now, let’s dig a little deeper.

Do you have what it takes? We think so.

By definition, college courses are challenging – they stretch your mind to look at things in a different way, they introduce you to new worlds of information, and they push you to grow, advance and develop into the professional you know you can be. Online courses at UW Colleges Online are no different. The flexibility of learning when and where you choose can make fitting education into your life easier. However, because it is all in your hands, online learning can require extra doses of discipline and motivation.  

In addition to ensuring your computer meets technology requirements, here are some things to think about.

Are you organized and able to manage time well?

Though online courses are more convenient because they do not have scheduled class times, you will still need to make time for studying, reading, working on assignments, collaborating with other students and engaging with your instructor – just like you would in a traditional classroom course.

Successful online students:

  • Make time within their busy lives to complete their coursework
  • Use an organizational system to stay on top of school, family, work and other commitments
  • Meet weekly due dates, while effectively managing longer-term assignments, such as independent research and collaborative projects
  • Spend an average of 3-4 hours per week per credit on each fall or spring semester course and 5-8 hours per week per credit on each summer semester course

Are you motivated, self-disciplined and proactive?

For the most part, learning, participating and engaging in online courses happens asynchronously, which means you, your peers and your instructor are all working on course activities at different times – often independently.

Successful online students: 

  • Are dedicated to making education a part of their lives
  • Take responsibility for their work and deadlines
  • Participate in online discussions and ask questions of their instructor and peers
  • Regularly check their course site for updates, instructor feedback and peer interaction

Can you communicate well in writing?

Much of the work you do in an online course will require communicating your learning through writing.

Successful online students:

  • Comfortably communicate in various forms of writing
  • Express themselves in thoughtfully worded responses
  • Stay focused on the topic or question within their written responses
  • Proactively seek assistance from tutors and/or the University's Online Writing Center, if needed

Are you open to learning new technologies?

As an online student, some technologies may be familiar to you (such as watching Internet videos) while others like the course management system, webinar system or simulations may not be.  

Successful online students:

  • Are comfortable navigating web pages and opening new browser windows
  • Know how to download and upload files and images, as well as use multiple search engines to locate information
  • Can install software
  • Use help features, searches and tutorials to address common troubleshooting issues
  • Become familiar with the Desire2Learn learning tools, as well as other program-specific software

UW Colleges Online

34 Schroeder Court, Suite 200

Madison, WI 53711