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Characteristics of Successful Online Students

Taking an online class has many advantages, including increased flexibility in completing homework assignments, the ability to communicate with your classmates and your instructor from the convenience of your own home or workplace, and enhanced access to written materials ranging from discipline-specific Internet resources to saved chats and instructors' class announcements. However, an online class is not for everyone. For instance, if you need the discipline of meeting on campus several times a week and you enjoy the in-person interaction with other students and your instructor, you are more likely to succeed in a regular class. The following characteristics are typical of students who do well in online classes.

A Successful Online Learner...

  • is self-motivated (does not need a lot of direction or motivation from a teacher);
  • is self-disciplined (can budget time wisely and does not procrastinate often);
  • enjoys the challenge of learning on her/his own (likes to read and learn);
  • takes charge of her/his own learning (willing to ask questions and seek help when necessary);
  • communicates well in writing;
  • may need a flexible schedule, but understands that flexibility does NOT mean the course will be easy.

How Do You Learn?

A Self-test for Online and FastTrack Students.

See how well these courses fit your circumstances and personality. Choose one answer for each question, then read the explanations and scoring procedures.

1. My need to take this course now is:
a. High:  I need to take it immediately  
    for a degree.
b. Moderate:  I could take it on campus
    later, or substitute another course.
c.  Low:  It's a personal interest that 
    could be postponed.

2. Feeling that I am a part of a class 

a. Not particularly necessary to me.
b. Somewhat important to me.
c.  Very important to me.

3. I would classify myself as someone

a. Often gets things done ahead of 
b. Needs reminding to get things done.
c.  Put things off until the last minute.

4. Classroom discussions are:
a. Rarely helpful to me.
b. Sometimes helpful to me.
c.  Almost always helpful to me.

5. When an instructor hands out
   directions for an assignment, I 

a. Figuring out the instructions on my 
b. Trying to follow the directions on my
    own, then asking for help as 
c.  Having the instructions explained by 
    the instructor.

6. Being in the same classroom with my 
    instructor is:

a. Not important to me, as long as I have 
    access to the instructor.
b. Somewhat important to me.
c.  Very important to me.

7. Considering my professional and 
    personal schedule, the amount of time I 
    have to work on a course is:

a. 7-9 hours per week.
b. 4-6 hours per week.
c.  1-3 hours per week.

8. When I am asked to use VCRs, 
    computers, voice mail, or other 
    technologies that may be new to me:

a. I look forward to learning new skills.
b. I feel apprehensive, but try anyway.
c.  I put if off or try to avoid it.

9. As a reader:
a. I usually understand the text without 
b. I sometimes need help to understand the 
c. I almost always need help
    a college text.

10. If I have to go to campus to take 
      exams or attend review sessions:

a.  I can get to campus almost any time.
b.  I work during the day and can only get to
     the campus in the evenings or on 


Add 3 points for each "a" that you circle, 2 points for each "b," and 1 point for each "c."  If you scored over 25 points, these courses are a real possibility for you.  If you scored between 15 and 25 points, they may work for you, but you may need to make some adjustments to succeed.  If you scored 14 or fewer points, these courses are probably not a suitable option for you.


  1. Unless you have compelling reasons for completing a course, coursework is often neglected because of personal or work circumstances.
  2. Some students prefer to learn independently, while others find it too difficult.
  3. These courses give you greater freedom to schedule your work, but they also require more self-discipline.
  4. Some people learn best by interacting with other students.  Online, FastTrack, and interactive TV courses provide considerable interaction.
  5. Online courses require you to work from written directions without face-to-face explanations by the instructor.
  6. With interactive TV classes, the instructor may be physically in another classroom and even in another city; however, you have full access to him/her, as the classroom is equipped with two-way interactive video and audio. Online instructors use a variety of technologies to interact with their students.
  7. These courses require at least as much time as that required for attending classes and completing assignments for campus courses.
  8. These courses use a variety of technologies for teaching and communicating.
  9. Written materials are the primary source of directions and information in online courses.

Special Notes for FastTrack Students

With FastTrack courses you meet only a few times, so you must attend every class the entire time. For more information, call 443-518-4440.

Special Notes for Online Students

Online courses typically do not have regular meetings in a physical space. Courses are conducted over the Internet, and students need Windows 95 or above software, a PC or Macintosh with at least a 14.4 modem, an Internet service provider, and a web browser. Course materials are available online at a dedicated course website, and instructors communicate with students via email and both synchronous and asynchronous chats. For more information, call 443-518-4440.

Special Notes for Interactive TV Students

Interactive TV classes meet at scheduled times in the Interactive TV Classroom on HCC's main campus. Students at other colleges participate in the class, and faculty members may be at either location; in any event, students at all sites can see, hear, and respond to the instructor and other classmates.  For more information, call 443-518-4440.

Student Profile - Maribel