Achieving academic success: How to do well in university online

High school and university experiences are very different, and it is important to be aware of these differences as you prepare to embark on your new life as a university student to successful in your studies.


High school

  • Learning occurs during scheduled time within school hours
  • Assignments are short/small tests, quizzes, reports and many opportunities to show and improve learning
  • Teachers supervise student progress and give support when
  • Assignments will often be accepted and marked even if it is late
  • Students are tasked with knowing facts and demonstrating that knowledge


  • Learning occurs outside scheduled class time, using textbooks, handouts or lecture notes
  • Less assignments – midterms, term papers, final exams and fewer chances to show and improve learning
  • Students are expected to seek out available support themselves
  • Assignments will have marks deducted if submissions are late
  • Students engage in deeper, more critical thinking and independent research and analysis

Added to this, and most recently university courses can be 100% online. The expectations and experience are far different from the in-person experience of classroom settings.

In-person courses

  • ‘Sage on the stage’ structure with instructors as experts in their field, delivering content to a captivated audience of listening students
  • Lectures are scheduled at the same set time and day weekly
  • Classmates are easily accessible given they did beside you in class
  • It is easy to get help from instructors by quickly raising your hand or chatting with them at the end of a lesson for clarification at the end of a lesson

Online courses

  • Instructors guide students through courses where students learn from each other or engage in learning more independently
  • Some courses may have set days and times for meeting, but students are responsible for their schedules, ensuring they are ready to learn
  • Establishing relationships and connecting with classmates take more effort as you would need to take initiative and seek peers out and create time to get together
  • While help is available, it is through emails back and forth, or virtual office hours requiring patience and flexibility

Want to learn more about academic success?

We are here to support your learning!

Contact a CAC Academic Coach to discuss strategies for time management, goal setting, exam preparation and more.

If you are needing additional support, UVic has several virtual services for students offered through University of Victoria Student Support Services.

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