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Saint Leo Blog

Online Learning

Online Degree Programs: Secrets to Success Straight from Students

Considering one of Saint Leo University’s online degree programs in criminal justice, business, education, or something else? Learn from students who have taken online classes what it truly takes to be successful.

A photo of a young woman using a computer for one of the online degree programs she enrolled inSaint Leo University offers a large number of online degree programs and individual courses conducted conveniently in an online learning environment. While some prospective students who have never taken classes electronically might be anxious about how such courses work, countless Saint Leo students have proven that this format is an excellent option for almost anyone.

Check out some effective advice on making an “A” in the classes in online degree programs straight from students who have actually gone through such academic programs and courses:


“Don’t be afraid of enrolling in online degree programs. I know I’m a bit biased since I have worked on computers doing design work for a while now. But as long as you structure your time right and map out some time each day to work on your classes, you can do this. Just like any class, you can’t wait until the last minute to get things done. You also have to dedicate a certain workspace and time on a regular basis to focus on your coursework. My neighbors know not to call me on Monday nights when I’m in the live class session.” – Sara Krieger, an online master’s in instructional design student at Saint Leo who also works as a contractor for NATO

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“I’m always preaching education to my Marines, and distance learning is a great option for them. Online classes take lots of discipline. I have to ask myself if I’m going to go to the gym or do homework. I say you have to devote at least 2 hours per day to your online classes. If you’re taking several online classes, be sure to break them up. For example, focus on one class on Mondays and then another class on Tuesdays. This will help you stay focused and not mix up your coursework.” – Bobbievette Johnson, a longtime member of the Marine Corps and Saint Leo online master’s in criminal justice student

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“People will ask me how competitive it is to earn your MBA online. I would say an online degree is much more stringent because it requires a great deal of self-dedication. Unlike an on-campus classroom setting, there was never a professor in a classroom who would give me that look of accountability about not having completed my work. It’s been all on me to get it done.” – Latifa Jackson, a Saint Leo online MBA student

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“It definitely challenges your self-discipline when you don’t have professors you are actually looking at and talking with in a classroom. You have to compartmentalize things and find that inner motivation. Overall, like my mom would say, ‘How would you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.’ You have to take everything week by week.” – Alexis Williams, a Saint Leo online MBA student who is having success in the cosmetology field

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“On my first day of online classes when I logged in to the site, I was so nervous about it. But my mom reminded me that I wasn’t the only one feeling that way. So, I stood my ground and found my groove after I figured out how to best manage my time. I love online classes because I can work on them when I have free time. When you’re in a traditional classroom setting, it can be hard to totally focus because you’re not really in control of your environment, and you might be worrying about things at home. For me as a caregiver to my mom, I can take her to the doctor or shopping when I have to and then can do my schoolwork on my schedule.” – Andrea Schmidt, a student in Saint Leo’s online bachelor’s in healthcare management program

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“I was still working full time as an instructor when I started this online MSID program. It was definitely a lot of work, but I would say it is very doable. I had to plan when I was going to do my homework and would have to tell my husband when I had to focus on the program. Early on in my first class, I was able to align myself with three other students. We all helped each other. We stuck together throughout the whole program. Even though some of us lived in different states, we helped pull each other through it all. We did a lot of team projects on Office 365 so we could all go in and make the changes we each had to make. We would also call each other, text, e-mail and use Skype.” – Barbara McLarnan, an alumna of Saint Leo University who earned her online master’s in instructional design (MSID) degree

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“I had no idea how pursuing higher education would change the course of my life, but what's really exciting is that I had the courage to step out on faith and not turn back. What I would tell someone my age who is considering attending college as a new or returning student is to turn that fear into perseverance. Maybe it's easier to just start out with one class at a time, but do actually start. Once you pass that class, be courageous and take two the next time and eventually you will find yourself with a full course load. Be sure to lean on your family, friends, professors and even fellow students for support. I have learned that if you are afraid of doing something, you should go for it because once you've accomplished it, you will feel stronger and more courageous.” – Diane Franklin, a Saint Leo student currently enrolled in the online human services administration program

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“There are lots of hours required to complete this program, but you can usually coordinate when you spend time working on the assignments. You also have until midnight on the days when things are due to get them turned in. Life happens, and my instructors have always been willing to work with me. The flexibility of this program has been wonderful.” – Brad Rogers, who is working toward earning his online master’s in instructional design (MSID) from Saint Leo

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“The DBA program has lots of discussion opportunities on the course site, and I’ve gotten to know the other students in my classes better because of that. It helps to have that support system in place. Also, you really have to develop good time management skills. For example, I’ve learned that I can write papers pretty quickly. But if something else pops up, I have to shift my focus and prioritize. I also have to find some time to relax. Online learning is a little different, but as long as you’re willing to ask the right questions and know what you’re getting out of it, you’ll be fine. You just have to take control of the classes so that you get as much out of them as you really want.” – Stephanie Lee, an online DBA student at Saint Leo

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“Some people think online classes are easier, but that’s not true. It’s basically the same whether it’s in a classroom or online. You have to keep up a rhythm with both types of classes or things will start to snowball on you. The other thing is that you do have to commit yourself to doing it. In my case, I worked on assignments and studied every weekend and several evenings throughout the week. For example, I’d study for one class on Saturdays, a second on Sundays and a third throughout the week. I had a quiet space with the technology I needed to study, and my spouse always offered to cook dinner or do laundry if I needed to focus on schoolwork.” – Gelso Rosa, a Saint Leo alumnus who earned a bachelor’s in computer information systems in just two years (both on-ground and online) while working as a full-time IT professional

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“It has taken a little time to get used to it. But we do have collaborative sessions where we get to actually talk to others in our classes. For online classes, I say you have to be disciplined and have excellent time management skills. You can sit down at the computer whenever you want since there’s no formal class schedule like on campus.” – Marilyn Ponder, a current online DBA student at Saint Leo and

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