Top 6 Tips for Success in an Online Math Class

Top 6 Tips for Success in an Online Math Class
Beth Dumbauld

Has it been years since you’ve taken a math course? Have you been anxious about going back to school because of required college math? You’re not alone. One of the most common concerns adult learners have about going back to college is completing their required college math classes. Fortunately, we have some help for you so you can confidently get your math requirements out of the way.

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StraighterLine Math Professor, Dan Gryboski, has been through it all when it comes to helping students finding success while taking an online math class. He teaches several of our professor-led online math course options, including College Algebra and Business Statistics, and shared with us his best advice for students who want to succeed in online math, and aren’t sure where to start.

Here are the top 6 tips for success in an online math course:

1 - Prepare your nerves.

If you have had a rough time with math in the past, consider this: That was then, before you tackled some other very big life decisions and endeavors. Compared to these huge events, a word problem from a book is child’s play. You are better prepared than ever before to take on this math class.

2 - Ease into it.

If it’s been a while since you have even looked at a math book, start with the low-hanging fruit first. Most math courses have a review chapter (or at least an easy introductory chapter).  Going through the examples in these chapters will remind you of some of the language that is particular to mathematics, and it will build your confidence for the rest of the course.

3 - Use your academic resources.

If you choose a math class with an instructor, don’t hesitate to contact that instructor with questions. Never feel like your question is too basic to warrant an email. Ask the complicated questions too. Just don’t wait until you feel overwhelmed before get the help you need.

  • Your math textbook is an excellent resource. Often you’ll find that the homework problems are very similar to the examples provided in each section. 
  • Be sure to access online tutoring the moment you feel like you need some extra guidance.

 4 - Review before each test.

After you’ve done the work to learn the material, it’s important to review it all to make sure you haven’t forgotten some of the finer points. In the online math classes I teach, I tell my students to go through the test reviews that I provide.

5 - Make your math course part of your routine.

Establish a goal for how much time you want to spend on the course. Then mark which days you will work towards that goal. The length of time you spend each week is not as important as the routine you set. For example, a goal of 2 hours on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays will be more productive than hoping to fit in 10 hours “sometime each week.” You can always exceed your goal if you are on a roll some days!

6 - You are not alone.

In an online class, it may be easy to forget that there are other students working on the same content that you are working on. If you are taking one of my courses, you can reach out to them with the “Questions and Suggestions for Your Fellow Classmates” link. And don’t forget, there is always a team behind you to help you succeed: professors, tutors, and student advisors. Reach out - you are not alone.

About the Author: Math Professor Dan Gryboski received his Bachelor's degree in Math and Computer Science from Colorado College. He wanted to design roller coasters, so he got his Master's in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Colorado. After working as an engineer for 4 years, he took the calling to become a teacher. Before teaching for StraighterLine, he taught math at community colleges, universities, and high school.

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