By: Claire Wilson. Last Updated: January 2024


There’s no doubt that studying online is a very different experience to studying in a classroom setting.

Online learning brings significant benefits…

  • You can study at a time that suits you
  • You can vary your study schedule each week to match changing work or family commitments
  • You can work at a pace that suits you
  • You don’t have to waste money or time on travel costs or parking charges 

… but there are also challenges associated with it.

Before you enrol in an online course, consider how you’d handle these 8 common challenges.

The Biggest Challenges of Online Courses


This is typically the biggest challenge people face. They start off extremely enthusiastically but after a week or two, life starts to get in the way and an online course is usually one of the first things to get sidelined.

You are the person in charge of your own success here. You need to keep your own motivations clear in your mind so you can keep prioritising study when your initial enthusiasm subsides.


Many people struggle with keeping themselves accountable when there’s no one standing at the front of the room, leading a class and taking a register. It can be a little too easy to let yourself off with missing a planned study session or constantly pushing back your schedule.

Time Management

There’s not a timetable telling you to be in a certain place at a certain time, some people find it difficult to plan it out for themselves and then stick to it.


If you don’t understand something or you’re struggling with any aspect your course, you’re going to have to have the confidence to speak up.

Lacking technical skills

This can be a big one. You don’t need a lot of technical ability to follow an online course but the bits you need, you REALLY need.

If you’re in any doubt, we’ve dedicated a whole post to outlining the technical skills you need to study online.

Being proactive

Our online courses are not designed for fresh graduates. They are designed for people with significant work experience. The result of this is that they are not a course that spoon-feeds you every single detail.

You will absolutely be given all the information you need but, for example, sometimes there will be acronyms used. If you don’t know one, you’ll have to Google it.

You’ll also have to take initiative to do further reading and consolidation if you don’t understand something the first time around.


Some people can find studying online quite a lonely experience. If you’d be one of them, you’ll need to find a way to balance that with social time elsewhere.

Other people find it an advantage that they can sit in a room all by themselves with no classmates to distract them!


We all get bad days. Maybe you didn’t do quite as well as you were hoping in an assignment, maybe you find a detail that you just can’t seem to make sense of, or maybe you’re just fed up.

When you’re an online student, YOU are the person responsible for getting yourself out of these slumps. Perhaps all that means is picking up the phone or emailing your course coordinator, but that’s still your responsibility when things are seeming a little tough.

What you can do to overcome these challenges

First check out this video on “Learning How to Learn” by Dr Barbara Oakley where she covers the following:

  • What are the most effective techniques to learn?
  • How can we make the best use of our precious time and not waste our efforts.
  • What strategies and techniques do I need to avoid to make the best use of my time?
  • What works best?

You could also check out this free course on Coursera on “Learning How to Learn by Dr Oakley and her colleague Dr Terrence Sejnowski. It has over 3.6 million enrolments and is one of the highest rated and most successful online courses of all time.

How We’ll Help You Beat These Challenges

At GetReskilled, we’ve built in some unique features to our courses to reduce the impact these common challenges have on our mature students.

Some of the steps we’ve taken include:

  • Designating each student a named course coordinator who acts as a sole point of contact for any queries they might have – you’ll come to know them well over the duration of your course and learn that no question is too big or too small for them to answer.
  • They are also who you can contact if you feel like you’re struggling – you are never alone in this process.
  • You’ll work with your course coordinator to put together a personalised schedule for your course that truly works around the commitments you already have.
  • Our course content is only released one week at a time so you shouldn’t ever feel overwhelmed at the number of tasks in front of you.
  • We can see when you log in and when you complete assignments. We check this every week for every student so if you fall behind, we notice. Your course coordinator will reach out via email (or sometimes by phone) to discuss your progress, any difficulties you might be having and help you put a plan in place to get back on track.
  • Most importantly, we’ll always treat you like an individual. We genuinely care about the progress of each and every student in our programmes. We know them all by name and we want to see them all succeed.

So yes, it can be tricky and it’s not for everyone. But we’re confident that if you’re aware of the challenges of online study when you sign up, we can help you beat every single one of them.

About the Author

Image with Claire Wilison from GetReskilled Team

Claire Wilson

Content Marketing and Career Coaching

Claire runs GetReskilled’s Advanced Career Coaching Programme – our specially devised job hunting course that helps our trainees take that final step into employment by leading them through the job hunting process. She is extremely enthusiastic about helping people reach their final goal of employment in their new career path.

Claire has a BSc (Hons) in Medical Biology from Edinburgh University and spent 7 years working in the pharmaceutical and medical device industries.