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Online Mountaineer: Inside the Online Classroom

The online student experience: I plan my schedule around my life!

May 6, 2022

Pam McDonald sitting in an oversized, red chair.

By Pam McDonald, WVU Online Ambassador

Being an online student feels like what, I assume, being self-employed must be like.

While I have always worked for companies, I know from talking to friends who are self-employed that it means hustling and having your own “internal drive” to achieve your goals and make a profit.

In the same way, being an online student also means hustling and having that internal drive. You have to set your own deadlines, keep yourself accountable, and stay on top of your program’s requirements.

As an online student, falling behind with your work is probably the biggest mistake you can make!

Why It Is Different

There is a lot less structure to an online program, compared to that of on-campus classes. And that is a huge plus for someone like me, who is juggling a full-time job and a lot of personal responsibility.

It gives me the flexibility to do the work on my time (within the hard deadlines I am given).

For a working professional that is a huge plus! For me, that is what being an online student is all about.

Pam McDonald at a WVU service table.

I don’t have the time-consuming experience of physically traveling to campus, finding a parking spot, figuring out buildings (all of which is exhausting, frankly).

I can log in anytime, anywhere, and as long as I complete my class work by Tuesday at 11 p.m., (which is my program deadline each week, right now) then I’m good!

I love that freedom and flexibility.

If for some reason I need to work ahead, most of my WVU Online instructors have modules opened early and I can do that.

If I want to get all my work done at the beginning of the week or over the weekend, it’s my choice.

Because I’m an Online Student

I am not stuck being in class on Tuesday and Thursday nights.

I am not locked into set meetings with my class.

I can work late at my job anytime I need to.

I can be present for family events.

I can have a personal life that isn’t restricted by my school schedule.

“All this means that I don’t plan my life around a schedule. I plan my schedule around my life!”

Pam McDonald dressed up for Halloween.

Tips for Being a Successful Online Student

For those of you who may want to know how to be a successful online student, here are some tips that I have found to be the most valuable:

  • Start your semester by reviewing your syllabus for all classes. This includes the course calendar. Map out all your assignments so that you know when major work is due.
  • Open your coursework early. Ask your instructors questions prior to the weekend, so that you can get clarity, because you’ll need to do your work when they aren’t available.
  • Be a good communicator! If you don’t understand, ask. You’re probably not alone. When studying online, it’s easy for what is communicated to become unclear, so it’s always good to ask questions.
  • Make friends with your classmates! This one is really important. You can have lasting relationships with other students in your online program, even though you aren’t in a physical building.

Being an online student doesn’t take away the relationships you can build with your classmates – and you will build them!

Pam McDonald with her friend, wearing a gold WVU t-shirt.

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