Finding success and personal development in online classes


Briahna LeFave

In the Andersen Library, English major Brooke Pederson uses CANVAS to manage her online classes. January, 2022

Briahna LeFave, Business & Technology Editor

Students are often credited with being the ultimate jugglers. Trying to balance school, work and extra curriculars amongst other responsibilities all at once can be almost impossible. Online learning can be a great path for those who have limited time to be physically present on campus. If you’ve concluded online coursework is for you, UW-Whitewater offers a variety of classes and even entire degrees earned exclusively online. Taking virtual courses can provide a unique opportunity for students looking to earn credits without adhering to an in-person class’s specific schedule and location. 

In addition to offering singular online classes, UWW-Online offers Bachelor’s, Master’s and certificate programs one can earn from the comfort of home with no sacrifice to quality of education. UWW-Online is Ranked #11 among regional public universities and the Online Bachelor’s program is ranked #44 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.

UWW-Online even offers a “Test Drive” feature in which students can take CANVAS, UWW’s chosen online learning platform for a spin without applying or enrolling. This can give students and prospective students alike an idea of what online courses look like and how they are organized.

Aside from the obvious convenience factor, there are so many ways online classes can help students grow personally as well as hone skills they may utilize in future careers and life in general. They encourage character development by demanding independence, drive, and self-motivation. They require skill development in areas of organization, time management and prioritization. While online schooling asks a great deal of the student, it’s not without its perks. English major Brooke Pederson says that working at her own pace and being able to step away from the class when needed is a huge positive. 

“I have been successful in my online courses because I am very self-motivated and I work and learn best when I am allowed to work at my own pace. Online classes give me the option to spend a lot of time working on it one day, and then take a couple days where I don’t look at it when there are a lot of other things going on.” says Pederson.

She goes on to say that choosing a learning environment that works best for you is a huge advantage, as not all students do well in a typical classroom setting.

“… I can take my laptop to a coffee shop and work there, or I can watch a lecture video from my couch. Online classes are a great way to learn if you are really busy or struggle with the intensity and pressure of a traditional classroom environment.”

Students aiming for successful outcomes in online courses should plan to hold themselves accountable for their role in progressing through the class. Taking online courses is definitely not the easy route, rather an alternative one in which expectations of students are similar to their in-class counterparts, aside from the self-guided aspect of virtual courses. While there are advantages to online learning, there are disadvantages as well. The freedom of virtual learning can be too loose of a leash for some, as Pederson explains the importance of remaining motivated and allocating time for your online classwork.

“You have to be motivated and willing to put in the time. It can be hard to put aside the time to work on an online class if you are working a lot or have other in person classes to do homework for, too. You have to be very independent to be successful. I have found that my online classes sometimes take more time than my in-person classes because of the difference in the structure.”

History major Faith Long agrees that online schooling is not without its challenges. Finding the routines and tricks that work for you paired with some prioritization and a lot of hard work will give you a great chance at achieving the outcome you’re looking for. She offers a useful tip in describing how keeping your study space separate from your living space helps with maintaining a school/life balance.

She explains “…the biggest challenge to completing online classes in college is most certainly the task of separating your study space from your relaxing space. Dorm rooms make this difficult, but I found that doing my work at my desk or in the common area of our suite allows me to complete my work and keep my bed area as a work free zone, this way at the end of the day I have place to relax and unwind that does not completely revolve around schoolwork.” 

Online schooling, whether it be singular online courses, certificate programs or degree programs can be a useful alternative route to achieving educational goals. While it’s not without its disadvantages, it can aid in both personal and professional development as well as provide students with freedoms and advantages not found in traditional classroom schooling. Long gives students a vote of confidence:

“Online classes require a little extra self-driven devotion but being successful in them is totally possible!”