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9 Things You Need To Know Before Taking An Online Course

Before you even consider taking an online course, you need to read these nine things. Take this advice from an online course junkie, though. 

Before I bought my first online course, I was super hesitant about it. I didn’t believe in those, and I thought they were a scam or at least totally useless.

How wrong was I. The very first online course experience I had was a god sent. While I never completed the course 100% (mainly because the course had lessons that weren’t an interest of mine), I got so much out of it and can say that online courses can be extremely good.

The first course I bought cost around $297 and was a one-time payment, and at that time, it meant a lot of money to me.

Not too long ago, I bought an online course worth $2,000. So I can say the $297 course seems like a small investment these days.

Between that $297 and $2,000 course, I’ve bought a few other courses and ebooks too. So I’ve been continuing my consumption of online courses and digital knowledge.

When you are reading this post, take into account that I love online courses, and I think learning is one of the best things you can do in life.

They say knowledge is power, and I’ve seen it be more than true in my life. I would even say that knowledge combined with hard work can bring you great results.

Here are the nine things you need to know before taking an online course:

  1. Online courses are not easy
  2. You might need support at some point
  3. Have good time management skills
  4. Is there a community for the students to support each other
  5. The course creator might not be there for you
  6. The content might be outdated
  7. You need to be self-disciplined
  8. It takes a lot of effort from your side
  9. You might not make it to the end

1. Online courses are not easy

Online courses can be easy if you don’t do anything with them. However, the courses usually have some serious in-depth information in them, and thus, taking one can feel exhausting at times.

The $2,000 course I’ve gone through is one that is insanely in-depth and has content for more than 100 hours. So it’s not an easy course to go through, and the things suggested in the course are not easy to accomplish.

So at first glance, online courses can seem easy and that they do not require a lot of work from you. However, if you are serious about the topic and like to learn the most of it, then you probably choose a course that gives you that. And when you do that, then you can expect to have some work to do.

Let’s say that you choose to go for a weight loss course. At first, you might think that losing weight starts right after you’ve paid for the course and taken the first lesson.

Well, it doesn’t work like that. After enrolling for the course, that’s when the real work starts. It’s the first lesson that usually shows you what is coming and what is needed from you.

At times it might be hard to keep yourself motivated to complete the course 100%. Completing all tasks, possible assignments, and whatever is instructed inside the course.

What should be noted here is that more than often, the creator has a specific intent, and the course usually doesn’t have anything else than is absolutely necessary for you to succeed.

2. You might need support at some point

While online courses are self-paced and meant to be consumed alone and from anywhere in the world. You might hit a wall with the course and don’t know how to proceed.

You might feel like you need support for you to progress. Even though the course is thorough and covers most of the things, you might still have questions unanswered.

There’s always room for improvement, and so questions can arise.

So make sure there’s a way to get support after purchasing an online course. Make sure there’s some form of a channel to ask questions and get support with the course.

The trend seems to be that course creators have these closed Facebook groups that offer a community to be a part of. 

While the course creator themselves might not participate in the discussion, other students might be able to help you out and give you a boost to get you complete the course successfully.

3. Have good time management skills

While you can take and consume online courses whenever you want, the other side is that you won’t go through the material at all.

Online courses take time, and the one course I mentioned before, the one having more than 100 hours of video content. It’s a lot of material to go through. So you have to have good time management skills to get the full benefits of online courses.

Time management from the perspective of when you go through the material and also how much of the material you go through.

When and if the material is dripped based (meaning that the content will be gradually given to you, like one lesson/day), then it’s easier to plan your day around the course and also to control the flow of information.

Taking too much information at one seating can exhaust you, so use time management to also restrict you from consuming too much information at one go.

In some courses, there could be lessons that take 2 hours to complete. So do know this in advance, so that when you do decide to go through the lessons, you have allotted a time slot for it. 

Interruptions to your studies are not something you want to have.

4. Is there a community for the students to support each other

Online courses are self-paced and meant to be consumed alone. However, every now and then, you come across a lesson that just baffles you.

You feel like, ok, I get what the teacher is saying, but how do I move forward. That’s when a community comes as an advantage. 

With a community build inside the course program, you can ask fellow students how they solved some particular problem and how they approach a specific problem.

It’s not easy to create a course that covers every aspect of the topic. We are all individuals with individual needs and situations. So it’s beneficial to have a community build around the course.

Closed Facebook groups are one way to create a community (as mentioned before), and some course platforms offer a community system build in them. Kajabi is one of them.

Having a community brings this we-do-this-together companionship, and it strengthens the bond between you and the course. Making you complete the course much more likely.

5. The course creator might not be there for you

As said in the previous section. The course creator might not be there for you. So you getting support for your course progression might be limited. 

That is one of the reasons a community is a nice-to-have element.

Many course creators build a course, put it on sale, and leaves it there to produce that passive income. While this is one strategy to go with, I would say that building a course that is updated and supported as long as the course is up and running is the thing to go for.

The best scenario is when the course creator is there with you and supporting you from the very beginning to the end, as well as having a community to be a part of.

6. The content might be outdated

Before taking an online course, you should be aware that more than many course creators like to build a course and then leave it. 

Leaving a course without updates results to a course that might have outdated information in it.

You should read from the sales page or from the course page if the course is being updated or not. Even though this is not a bullet-proof tactic to make sure it is updated. At least there’s a mention that it could be.

Outdated content is extremely hazardous for your learning. In the worst case, it means you are learning things that do not apply today anymore.

Things that could even make you go backward in progress. Thinking that the world is flat is one fo those things. So learning the right information is the key, and while people do find convincing information that the earth really is flat. You should double-check your information before trusting it.

This comes down to the fact whether the course creator is one that can teach the subject or not. What experience does the course creator has and if the creator is one to be trusted.

7. You need to be self-disciplined

There’s no one shouting at you to study. No one to guide you through the course. No one to say a ‘well done.’ This is totally on you.

You, yourself, have to have the will to learn and study.

If you lack discipline, there’s no way you will complete a course, let alone get results with it.

Discipline is in the center of all doing. Hard work requires willpower form you, but it also requires your mindset to be focused on completing tasks and assignments.

I hated studying, and I thought that I was dumb. That was me a few years ago. Today, I can’t stop myself from studying. And the biggest impact for this will to grow in me was the fact that I realized I wasn’t dumb. The next step was that with knowledge, you could do anything.

In time I developed a discipline to myself. And the more you do the things that don’t always feel too good, the better you are saying no to things that don’t matter at the time.

Grow your discipline and make sure you complete the lessons in the course; by not doing that, there are zero benefits for you enrolling in a course in the first place. 

8. It takes a lot of effort from your side

Some courses are easy to go through, but then again, the results promised usually ain’t that great either.

When you enroll in a course that is a bit pricier, then you can expect to do some real hard work.

There are a plethora of world-class courses that promise you huge results, when in fact, the reason that people get those results is not entirely because of the course but because they did the work.

As discussed before, self-discipline is needed, and the next thing that is needed from you is effort.

While taking online courses is easy and fun, fun in the sense of learning new cool stuff and ways to do things and these secret insights that people have accumulated over the years.

Still, the last thing needed from you is to take action and complete what was required from you.

9. You might not make it to the end

What are probably the biggest factors people don’t complete a course are these:

  • Intentions change
  • They just browse through the content
  • They are unsure about the course
  • They don’t take action
  • They are overwhelmed
  • They lose focus
  • They don’t feel supported
  • They got what they were looking for without going through the whole course

These are just some of the reasons why a person would not complete a course.

In my opinion, the biggest is that your intentions change and you lose focus. With these two factors coming in, you will probably end the course and give up on it.

You shouldn’t think that it’s wrong to do so or that it’s wrong if someone doesn’t complete a course. 

If your intentions and desires change in the middle of course (wither because of the course or because of some other outside force), it’s ok. There’s nothing wrong about it. We go through a course that is not something you feel passionate about anymore.

A final note

These are the nine things I would be aware of before taking an online course. My usual process is that I make sure the content is valid either by checking the creator is active online (blog post, social media, other means) or checking that the course is up-to-date.

I look for things like can the course content be outdated or could it be that it’s solid for the next few years.

I also check that there are all legal things in place, like terms of use, privacy policy, refund policy, etc. Then I will also check if I like the teacher or not. If these few things click and the nine things above, then I’m good to go and enroll myself in a new course.

Juha Ekman

Hi there, I’m Juha Ekman. A few years ago, I started my online business selling online courses and digital products. Ever since then, I’ve been obsessed with learning, especially learning marketing, sales, and everything about passive income. It’s been quite a ride, and there has been a lot of ups and downs along the way. This is the site where I share everything I’ve learned.