Recently, eCampus News posted an article about the latest online learning myths, one of which was “earning an online degree is easy.” Typically, only those online students who are self-motivated tend to succeed, but are there other more define-able characteristics that characterize successful online students?

In author Joel English’s book, Plugged In: Succeeding as an Online Learner, students about to embark in online learning are given a list of should-have skills or habits in order to succeed. English, as well as Cengage Learning (which produced an infographic based on the key points of English’s book) recommend instructors share these 10 boiled-down characteristics with their online students before starting the course or class.

10 attributes of successful online students

1. They believe in the process

Online students that adopt a positive attitude about their school, the distance education process, the faculty, and the courses they are taking are often more successful. They fully invest in the academic community.

2. They speak up

Whether seeking financial, grade and/or transcript information, understanding of materials within a course, or an introduction to the services, students should be aggressive about receiving the support they expect, and clearly communicate the resources they need.

3. They perfect their technical skills

If a student is not comfortable with their technological skills, he or she should reach out for computer training or tutoring. Students who lack confidence in their technical abilities tend to fall behind early in an online program.

4. They stay connected

Online students will have to maintain a reliable Internet Service Provider (ISP) and a dedicated workspace throughout their program.

5. They know their resources

Schools tend to offer student, career, and academic advising, library resources, and faculty members to support student success. Students should reach out to all of these personnel and know the policies and resources that are available to them.

(Next page: Characteristics of successful online students 6-10; infographic)

6. They find their passion

Students should aim to choose a program that gives their life purpose, which will, in turn, find purpose in their coursework and assignments.

7. They actively participate

Online students should plan to be active in all discussions, not only with instructors, but also reading and responding to classmates.

8. They take breaks

Students should engage in coursework in “chunks” of time rather than in long stretches in front of the computer, with short breaks at least every hour.

9. They schedule their time

Online students should not let the convenience of an online course fool them into thinking that it requires less time than a traditional face-to-face course. Make sure they set a schedule for their work and they work within the schedule.

10. They communicate with others

Successful students take advantage of the opportunities to make new friends online and interact with staff and instructors. Schools should provide resources for them to join clubs, student interest groups, and social gatherings.

10 Attributes of a Successful Online Student Infographic
Find more education infographics on e-Learning Infographics

About the Author:

Meris Stansbury

Meris Stansbury is the Editorial Director for both eSchool News and eCampus News, and was formerly the Managing Editor of eCampus News. Before working at eSchool Media, Meris worked as an assistant editor for The World and I, an online curriculum publication. She graduated from Kenyon College in 2006 with a BA in English, and enjoys spending way too much time either reading or cooking.