Tricks and Treats: Succeeding at an Online University

Halloween Picture

To succeed as an online college student, you have to be motivated and driven. A self-starter. Great at time management and determined to succeed.

And when you do succeed, the rewards are many: a better job, a promotion, a new career maybe. Perhaps a raise. Definitely the satisfaction of a goal achieved and hard work paying off.

This is the big-picture look at what it takes to succeed—and why it's worth it. But in the day-to-day work of a student striving through a rigorous, online, competency-based program like WGU's 55 bachelor's and master's degree programs, there are all kinds of little tips that students learn to make the process of studying smoother, more efficient, and more effective—and there are all kinds of ways students reward themselves for the little victories along the way to the big prize.

So, just in time for Halloween, we asked our Facebook fans:

What tricks have you come up with to improve the effectiveness of your study time? How do you treat yourself when you pass a particularly tough assessment?

Here's what they came up with


  • Kate: Set a goal for each study session. Break study sessions into 25-minute blocks with 5-minute breaks in between. After three or four 25-minute sessions, take a 30-minute break.
  • Abby: I save in a word processor and print off all study guides, quizzes, or class material the first day. Then I use them as I work through the class.
  • Stephen: Removal of television. Next—Facebook. (We assume he meant to add, "With the exception of the WGU Facebook page, of course.")
  • Avrila: Best trick I found was to go to the library. An environment that contains neither my TV, nor my procrastatasks (cleaning and organizing), nor my cats is automatically more efficient.
  • Julian: I find that I'm more productive if I use my desktop, instead of my laptop. Makes me get in the mindset of being more serious.
  • Kevin: 4 a.m. study/work sessions while my brain is still fresh. Away from home also lessens distractions.
  • Rebekah: Study outside. I think best with fresh air and hearing the birds. Also, color-code my notes.


  • Beth: My treat is buying a latte when I pass.
  • Rebekah: Sushi.
  • Angelica: I'm working on a cartwheel.
  • Victoria: My momma and I run out into the living room and jump up and down when we pass a course. It's amazing having her to help me through the tough stuff!
  • Abby: When I complete an assessment, I clean out my desk and put the completed course material in a folder along with my score.
  • Brett: Go out with friends who you never see because you are always studying.
  • Erin: The way I celebrate passing any assessment is spending more than an hour with my husband. We go for a walk or get some ice cream. Oh, and I do a victory dance. (That's how my husband knows I passed.)
  • Tek: Going to see a movie or going out to dinner.
  • Jack: I literally just completed and passed my last WGU BSIT exam. I am done! Going to watch the World Series and have some fun tonight!

Do you have any tricks to add? Did we miss your favorite celebratory treat? Let us know in the comments!

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