Master Self-Paced Learning: 4 Tips to Stay on Track in Your Self-Paced Online Course

The good news: students completely set their own pace.

The bad news: students completely set their own pace.

If you’ve found yourself on this blog, chances are you’re embarking on a self-paced online course journey with us. Navigating the realm of self-paced learning comes with its unique set of challenges and opportunities. While course flexibility is important for many who work full-time, have families or have other obligations and responsibilities, we know it can be overwhelming to begin self-paced courses without a clear roadmap. Luckily, you don’t need to worry because we’ve curated four tips to help you stay focused, motivated, and ultimately succeed in your self-paced courses with UNE Online!

1. Stay Organized

UNE Online’s science and math prerequisite course assignments are done completely at the pace of each student. Additionally, these courses do not have regularly scheduled meeting times. Typically, these courses are structured by week for a 16 week time-frame (unless you’re registered for one of our summer accelerated courses). To stay on pace with the schedule, it is important to complete your assignments each week starting on the first week of the course. Remember, you can always go ahead in the course and do more work each week to finish the course early. That’s what’s great about UNE Online’s self paced structure; you set the pace!

It can be helpful to dedicate a specific time every day or during the week to read the course materials and complete the assignments or exams. Block this time on your calendar and make sure you are free of distractions. If you have a little extra time one week, it might be a good idea to get a little ahead on the course material, especially if you know you have a busy week coming up. Having a time-management strategy will help keep you on track in your online self-paced course and stress free!

Helpful hint: some students find it useful to create alerts on their computer, phone, or a paper calendar to remind themselves of when things are “due”.

2. Create a structured schedule

We touched on this a bit in the last section, but the importance of a routine cannot be overstated! Dedicating a specific block of time each day or week to work on course materials and tackle assignments is going to be so helpful for making sure all your work gets done. Consistency is key; treat your study sessions as non-negotiable appointments and watch your productivity soar. 

Helpful hint: when setting these dates, try to set the final a few days prior to the deadline to factor in any unforeseen circumstances. It’s always better to complete a self-paced course a few days early.

3. Leverage resources wisely

You can get the most out of your learning experience by exploring the wealth of resources available to you. Your textbook and lab materials are, of course, important for succeeding, but there are many other resources you can utilize too! For example, the syllabus is actually a great tool for creating a schedule. Students should take time to review the requirements for the course on the syllabus and allocate individual due dates for each assignment and exam based on individual pace and timeframe for completion. If you need more or less time as you go, the dates can always be adjusted to help stay on track!

Take advantage of UNE’s Library Services. UNE’s library has online resources and research services available for online students! The vast majority of the library’s resources are available online, and if you don’t find what you need there are options to use the interlibrary loan system. There is also research and writing help available for online students. 

Since the self-paced courses are asynchronous and do not have scheduled meeting times, the discussion board is a great way to connect with your classmates. You can discuss course material, ask each other questions, and in general, is a good place to make connections. It is always easier to get through assignments when you know there are other people in it with you! 

Helpful hint:
Don’t forget about office hours. Each week instructors will hold virtual office hours for you to ask questions and get clarification or support. This is a great way to get face-to-face time in an asynchronous, self-paced environment.

4. Monitor progress and adjust accordingly

It’s important to make sure whatever schedule or processes you put in place at the start of your self-paced course are still working for you as the course goes on. It’s helpful to regularly assess your progress and adjust your schedule and/or approach as needed. Keep track of milestones achieved, areas for improvement, and any roadblocks encountered along the way. Be proactive in seeking feedback, whether from your instructor or peers, and use it to refine your study strategies. Being able to adapt is key to success in your online course!

You might have noticed that each course has a list of recommended prerequisites on its course page. While these prerequisites are not required to register for the course, some background and knowledge of the recommended prerequisites will help you succeed in your course. 

Remember, online courses are just as challenging as in-person classes. Just because the course is done on a computer doesn’t mean it’s an easier route. There is still a lot of information to learn and digest, so being aware of this will help you avoid falling behind in coursework.

Expressing any concerns or questions with your instructor will be very beneficial in determining the pace needed for you to complete the course on time. Be realistic with how much time you can dedicate to your course each week. The more honest you are with yourself, the better prepared you will be to get all your assignments and exams done on time. 

Helpful hint: begin the course on or soon after the start date approaches instead of waiting a few weeks. This will help in making an early assessment of whether there are any questions or concerns that are needed to communicate and get resolved. The earlier you tell your instructor or advisor, the sooner they can help.

Student success is our priority

Part of your success will be dependent on how well you can set reasonable expectations, be diligent in completing coursework, and set goals within an established timeframe. Staying on pace in a self-paced course will become more attainable as you use these tips and tricks.

Embarking on an online self-paced course can be a transformative experience, empowering you to take control of your learning journey like never before. By creating a structured schedule, leveraging resources wisely, and monitoring your progress, you’ll be able to navigate your studies with confidence and success. Embrace the flexibility, stay disciplined, and watch your academic aspirations become a reality. 

Ready to conquer your online self-paced course with UNE Online? Start implementing these strategies for online learning today and unlock your full potential!

Remember, success is the sum of small efforts repeated day in and day out!

For more information on how your Student Support Specialist can help you navigate the world of online learning, visit

Learn more about our online science prerequisites courses




*This blog post was written on April 2, 2024.

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