How to Succeed in a 3-Week, Fully Online Winter Session Course

Winter Session courses are incredibly intensive. Plan ahead for success:

  • Keep in mind that you will be earning 3 credits in a 3-week time frame. Normally students earn 3 credits in a course that is spread out over a full 15 weeks. This means Winter Session courses require a much larger time commitment each week.
    • You should be prepared to spend 30-40 hours per week working on your Winter Session course.
  • Be sure to reach out to your faculty member as soon as you have questions. Because winter session courses move so quickly, it is very important that you don’t get behind. Reach out as soon as you know you need help.
  • Make sure you have all necessary course materials before the first day of class. Not having your books or other course materials in time can put you behind in the course. And once you are behind it can be tough to catch up.
  • Make certain you familiarize yourself with Blackboard, especially if you have never taken an online course.  There is a great tutorial course you can explore prior to your winter course starting that will let you try out many of the most important features of blackboard.  Look for the link called “Blackboard Essentials”  and enroll yourself in the self-directed tutorial.
  • Read the syllabus!  If necessary, print it out and put important dates in a planner  or on a calendar that you check regularly.
  • Time management is CRUCIAL.  With an online course, it is up to you to set a regular schedule of when you will log in and complete your classwork.  Plan your time carefully around the other important parts of your life- work, family, child and/or elder care.
  • DON’T PROCRASTINATE!  Try and establish a consistent time each day to log in to your course.  You cannot hope to complete an accelerated course by logging in periodically.  Get into a routine that works for you and follow it!
  • Make sure you have a reliable internet connection.  There is nothing more frustrating than attempting to submit an assignment or take a test on Blackboard and suddenly losing your internet connection. Connect with a reliable desktop/laptop computer with a broadband internet connection. Also make yourself familiar with any additional technology that might be required for your course.   If you need help navigating technology issues, Call 877.947.4357 or email
  • Make an effort to contact your instructor EARLY and OFTEN, especially if you have questions about the course.  Take advantage of discussion boards or other activities that encourage you to get to know your classmates; often, they can be a great resource for feedback if you are unclear on a certain concept or assignment.
  • Be sure you know where your instructor posts the coursework within blackboard.  Some instructors may post work under “ASSIGNMENTS,” while others use weekly folders…another good reason to read that syllabus!
  • If you choose to attach a written assignment, make CERTAIN of how your instructor wants it formatted.  Many instructors will only accept .doc or  .docx.  If the instructor can’t open your work, they likely will not grade it.
  • Pay special attention to any announcements your instructor might post on the course homepage.  Many times announcements may offer further explanation of the week’s work or even contain important changes to the course content or any syllabus changes.
  • Read your messages on Blackboard!  These can be important and are NOT always linked to your or first class emails.

If you keep these tips in mind, you will be well on your way to success in your fully online Winter Session course.