Setting the Pace for an Online Course

Online courses at NOVA are quite unique, in that, there is no scheduled meeting time for your classes and students set their own schedule for logging in, participating, and studying. Students can log into the course at any time and learn the course material at their own speed from week to week. The vast majority of NOVA’s online classes have weekly assignment due dates and all have a minimum of two proctored exams. In light of this, there is a more pronounced need to establish great time management strategies to ensure your success in the course. See below for tips for pacing yourself through your NOVA Online course:

Follow the course’s outlined schedule. Instructors map out which lessons will be covered from week to week as a guide at the beginning of the semester. Following this schedule will ensure that you cover all material in time for exams. Be sure to stay on schedule with all readings, videos, and other instructional material to avoid falling behind.

Set a schedule for starting and submitting assignments. Assignments are typically posted at the beginning of the semester and due on a weekly basis. To stay on track with all assignments:

-Make a calendar of all of your assignments due dates; construct a paper calendar, use a planner, use your phone, etc.

-Designate certain days of the week for starting assignments, editing assignments, and submitting them.

-Do not wait until the night it is due to start the assignment, if you can help it. Starting assignments early allows for time to fix technology problems, to ask instructors questions about the assignments, and to receive responses to inquiries in a timely manner.

Schedule class time as if you were in a physical class. It is easy to forget about a class when you do not have to come to campus to sit in a classroom. Therefore, setting aside specific “class time” is important. Devote at least 2-3 hours per week for each credit you take; for example, a 3 credit course calls for at least 6 hours a week of studying.

Log into the course frequently. This is the instructor’s way of knowing that you are active in the course. Logging into the course regularly ensures that you do not miss any important instructor announcements, assignment instruction changes, changes in due dates, etc. Being inactive can lead to you being dropped from the course.

For more tips on time management and staying on track in your courses, reach out to our NOVA Online Student Success Coach team at 703-764-5076 or