Guest Post By:  Lisa Shoreland Online classes offer a number of benefits. For younger students, online courses offer more options to meet a diverse set of learning styles, as well as classes to supplement the traditional curriculum. For older students, online classes offer flexibility to meet personal obligations while pursuing an education. Because the nature of online education is so different from the traditional classroom, it is important that students develop good habits so that they are successful in their program of study. If you are considering taking online courses, or you have just started taking courses, here are a few tips for finding success in your online program:

Set a Schedule When you take online courses, you don't have to show up to a classroom at a certain time. You only have to turn in assignments by the due date. This can make it easy to neglect study for the "next day" or even the "next week." Before you know it, your deadline is here and you haven't done any of the readings or work that you needed to do. You must set a schedule for your own personal study to keep you on track for success in your online program. Create a daily or a weekly schedule that works for your learning style and then stick with it.

Create a Study Environment Sitting in front of the TV while you take your online test might seem like a great idea, but it will likely cause you to become too distracted and actually hurt your performance. It is important for you to create a quiet environment where you can focus when you study or take tests. If this means leaving your house to go to a public library or a cafe, then that's what you need to do.

Be an Active Participant Classroom discussions in online programs take place in e-mail and forums. In a tradition classroom, you might feel more comfortable throwing out a line in agreement, or you might feel impassioned by an argument and jump right in to the discussion. Text doesn't have the same effect, so any feedback you provide seems more intentional and meaningful. You must make an effort to be an active participant in online discussions in order to have success in the class. Participating in this way allows you to get insights from your fellow classmates and to talk through your own learning process with the material.

Get a Study Partner Sometimes there's just nothing like talking through material in person to help you understand it better. This is where a good study partner comes in. If you are lucky enough to find someone in your online class that lives nearby, that's great. However, you can also post a flyer at a nearby college or you could even ask someone you know with experience in the subject. Maybe your friend is a computer programmer and can help you in your math class, or maybe your sister majored in English and can help you in lit class.

Balance Personal Obligations A lot of people take online classes because they allow them to spend more time with their family or continue to pursue their careers. However, in order to be successful, you have to learn to balance all of these responsibilities. Learning good time management and creating a schedule will help you do this. Regularly revisiting your goals will also help to keep you on track. Online courses can be a fantastic way for many students to supplement or continue their education, whether they are in grade school or looking to get a college degree. However, online courses require a different mindset and approach to study than traditional classroom education. These tips can help you find success in your online education. Have you taken courses online? What tips do you have for other students to find success? Share your tips in the comments! Lisa Shoreland is currently a resident blogger at Go college, where recently she’s been researching college scholarships and grants for nursing. In her spare time, she enjoys creative writing and hogging her boyfriend’s PlayStation 3. To keep her sanity she enjoys practicing martial arts and bringing home abandon animals.