5 Online Education Obstacles and How to Overcome Each


Online education has its obstacles, but students can overcome them and graduate (photo courtesy of flickr user Edgar Barreira).

Online education varies in difficulty depending on the school, programs and elements also involved within the student’s life. Many times students are unprepared for the beginning of an online program and lack information on time management and priorities. In general, there are five major obstacles an online student can face while enrolled in a degree program that admission representatives do not always prepare applicants for; fortunately, some insight can still be given.


Although more and more traditional students are turning to online education as a means to “avoid” going to class, distance education courses are usually full of non-traditional students. Finding a comfortable balance between work, one’s family and school can be a difficult task and requires the ability to manage time effectively.

Investing in a day planner could be just the organization needed to stay on track with all required activities, presentations, homework assignments and little league games. While a planner can be purchased for as little as $1.00 at any dollar store, consider purchasing a more durable one that can be used year-after-year by refilling the calendar inside; this option prevents change over time and keeps you on task with all of your responsibilities.


Refrain from doubting yourself, especially based on past experiences. Even if this is your second time enrolling in college, do not undersell yourself. Timing is everything when it comes to school and now just may be the perfect time! In addition, remember that colleges have academic advisors and career counselors available to support you through your entire enrollment.


Distractions are everywhere. From homework, to football, to trying to figure out what to make for dinner; everything is a distraction. That’s why you cannot let these distractions dissuade you from studying, completing your homework, or finishing a quiz on time.

By establishing a set schedule for when you will be “going to school” you can provide your family, and yourself, with a structured schedule of when and when not to interrupt what you’re doing. You should also separate yourself from any distractions that cannot be removed from the house (kids, for example), by studying in a quick bedroom or home office. If need be, go to a library to complete homework and/or quizzes.


Students, especially new students, oftentimes feel as though they have no free time once they enroll in college. This is not true! Students must remember that you committed a portion of your free time to your studies when you decided to enroll. However, this does not mean you can’t enjoy a day at the beach or a hockey game while in school.

By planning your time effectively you can, in fact, enjoy a number or recreational activities. For example, if you have assignment due every Monday and Thursday, and a hockey game on Wednesday evening, make sure all, or at least the majority, of your work for Thursday is complete before the hockey game begins. In addition, by giving yourself a little time each day to complete assignments you can avoid the last minute push before the deadline.

Lack of Technical Skills

Online degree programs are structured via an internet-based course platform and will require some basic degree of technical knowledge in order to access coursework and readings. However, you do not need to be a certified programmer to complete an online degree. If you feel comfortable navigating the internet you should be just fine logging into the classroom.

Ashley Benson is a distance education professional with five years of experience in the for-profit sector. She has worked coast-to-coast within the United States as an academic advisor, an adjunct teaching assistant and, most recently, a campus Registrar. Through formal education and industry experience, Ashley practices staying informed on the current events and changes within higher education and the students involved.

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