Getting Started

If you are new to the online learning experience or just need a refresher, the following resources are provided to help you succeed. Preparing yourself prior to the term will aid in a smoother start in your online course.

COVID-19 UPDATE: Do you need a computer in order to take classes in?  Please contact for information on our laptop loaner program.  

Before the Term Begins

Self Assessment

Even if this isn't your first online course, it is a good idea to know your strengths and weaknesses and brush up on  what it takes to be a successful online student

Technical Requirements

Make sure your computer and internet are compatible with your online course. COVID-19 UPDATE: Do you need a computer in order to take classes? Contact for information on Clark's laptop loaner program. 

Complete an Orientation to Canvas

Whether this is your first online class or you just need a refresher, we offer both face-to-face and online orientation options that will prepare you for your upcoming class. NOTE: During 2020 spring term, only online orientation is available.

Determine your Canvas Username and Password

You can determine your Canvas login information in the "Logging into Canvas" area of the Clark Canvas site.

Activate your Student Email Account

Not only is your Canvas account tied to your student email account, your student email is also where many other important Clark College communications are sent. Make sure you are checking it regularly.

Develop a Game Plan

Before the term starts, set up a schedule that will allow you time and an environment that works for your studying style. For some students, that means early in the morning before the rest of their family wakes--for others, it's during the day when others are at work. Still others may find that they need to schedule frequent breaks for themselves to get up and stretch, take care of others, or change locations. Speaking of locations, it's good if you can identify a place where you can study effectively--somewhere with access to electricity and Internet, few distractions, and that is physically comfortable for you. Some students find that having a single study spot helps them stay in "the zone" of studying; others  feel better switching locations during the day, almost like having different "classrooms." Use the time before the term starts to experiment with the set-up that works best for you--your online orientation to Canvas is a good time to test how things are working. 

Check your Waitlist Status

If you are on a waitlist for a class you will not have access to it in Canvas until you are fully registered for the course. Waitlists end prior to the start of the term so if you have not been fully registered by that time you will need to contact the instructor regarding permission to register

Get your Textbooks

You can purchase your textbooks online at the Clark College Bookstore. During the 2020 spring term, the Bookstore is offering free shipping on all purchases ordered by April 12.

Pay your Tuition

Make sure you pay your tuition by the deadline to avoid being dropped from the course.

Determine your Backup Plan

Technology, like everything else in life, is not perfect. Things happen–your internet connection goes down, your computer crashes, the power goes out. It is a good idea to have a backup plan in place in case something happens. While some instructors can be flexible if something goes wrong, in the end a failure in technology may not be a viable excuse for not getting your work completed. We recommend the following steps to protect yourself:

  • Make sure you are completing your work in a timely manner. The less time you give yourself to do something, the less time you have to troubleshoot anything that may go wrong.
  • Arrange with a friend or family member to be able to use their computer if yours stops working. Ensure at the beginning of the term that their computer has all of the software and Internet access you need for your courses.
  • Be aware of the Clark College Computer Lab hours and locations in case you need to come to campus to finish your work. [NOTE: During the COVID-19 outbreak, computer labs may not be availabe; call or email ahead to check.]
  • Always keep copies of your work. From assignments to discussion posts, it's a good idea to keep a separate file with a backup of all of your work in case something happens and you need to prove you did the work.

First Day of the Term

 The first day of the term is considered your first day of class for the majority of online and hybrid courses. You will need to log into Canvas on that day and complete any preliminary assignments your instructor may have for you. If you do not log in by that day, it is the same as not showing up to the first day of an on-campus class--the instructor may drop you for non-attendance; especially if there are other students waiting to get into the course.

As you begin your first day of class please keep the following in mind:

  • If you log into Canvas and don't see your classes, be aware that instructors have until 8 a.m. on the first day of the term to make the course available to you. If it is after that time and you still do not see the class do the following:
    • Verify that you are in fact registered for the course.
    • Email your instructor and let them know you are looking for the course.
    • Keep checking Canvas and your email for a response from the instructor.
  • It is a good idea to log into your course earlier in the day. If you wait until late at night there may not be anyone available to assist you if you run into difficulties. 
  • If you are unable to log into Canvas until later or not at all on the first day of the term ALWAYS communicate this with your instructor via email ahead of time and ask them how they would like you to proceed.
  • Once you have logged into Canvas, spend some time in each of your classes:
    • Find your syllabus and read thoroughly.
    • Get familiar with how your instructor has the class designed. Just like a traditional on-campus class, each online class is going to be unique depending on the instructor and the content.
    • Find any introductory assignments that your instructor may have for you to complete
    • All online courses have at least one required assignment that must be completed during the first week; make sure you find that and can satisfactorily complete it by the submission deadline.
  • IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR FINANCIAL AID RECIPIENTS: Students taking an online class or classes and receiving Financial Aid (grants and/or loans) are required to complete an academic activity in each online class the first week of the term. Students who do not complete the activity will jeopardize their funding. Please see the Financial Aid department for further information.

Throughout the Term

As you move through the term in your online course it is a good idea to keep the following in mind for your continued success:

Manage your Time

Depending on how you learn, online classes may take more time for you to complete all of your work. The federal Department of Education defines each credit as requiring one (1) hour of "instruction" time and a minimum of two (2) hours of "homework time" per week. For example, a 5-credit course would involve five (5) hours of "instruction" and ten (10) hours of "homework," for a total of 15 hours per week. Be realistic about how much time commitment you need to put into your coursework to be successful and schedule accordingly.

Keep Track of Due Dates

Use your syllabus, course modules, and/or Canvas Calendar to keep track of what needs to be done when. Don't find yourself in the position of having missed an assignment because you didn't notice it was due.

Look Ahead at the Week's Course Requirements

Some courses have all course requirements available all the time. Other courses make modules available on a week-by-week basis. As soon as the next week's requirements are posted, study each item to identify the amount of time that will be required and any research or planning needed to successfully complete them. This strategy creates the opportunity for you to seek clarification and get assistance before the due date.


Because your instructor is not seeing you in person every day, they can not know if you are confused or having a problem unless you tell them. If you have questions, ask. If you are confused, seek clarification. The course syllabus should provide contact information and expected turn-around time when you can expect a response. Don't wait until the day something is due to identify your questions.

Utilize your Resources

Clark College offers many Student Success Resources to guide you in your continued success.