Online Course Guidelines

Success in an online course requires a great deal of motivation and self-discipline. Online courses are college-level courses with requirements equivalent to and time commitments that may exceed traditional classroom courses. Students can explore whether learning in an online environment is a good match for their learning styles by visiting the College's Online Learning “Is It Right for You?” page.


Online Course Expectations

All high school students enrolled in online courses are required to work with their high school counselor and/or a mentor, who both play essential roles in supporting student success in college-level online coursework. Reading the Advisor Guidelines and Mentor Guidelines can help students understand the roles of the advisor and mentor and how they will be expected to participate in these important support systems.

While online courses are asynchronous, meaning there is no requirement to log on at a specific time, online courses are not self-paced. Assignments must be submitted by the date and time specified by the course schedule.

The following are a few general guidelines for meeting online course expectations. Students should refer to the Success Checklist for Online Students for a complete set of guidelines. 

  • The average student spends 2.5 to 4 hours per week per credit on coursework.  For a three-credit course, you should plan on spending at least 7.5 to 12 hours per week on the course.
  • Before their online course begins, students are encouraged to print the course outline and review expectations and due dates with their mentor.
  • Students must be able to log in at least three to five times each week, complete all assignments on time, and read all course documents provided by the instructor and other students.
  • It is very important that students log in to their online course(s) within two days of the course start date.

NOTE: All online courses follow the College’s academic calendar (not the student’s high school’s calendar). Note that online courses normally start before highs school begin the school year. Additionally, school breaks may not align. Students are required to follow the college calendar for online courses.Logging into an Online Course

After registering for an online course, a student should receive a letter from CollegeNow including his log-in information. Contact CollegeNow at 607.844.8222, Ext. 4311, for help logging in.

One week before the online course begins, the student will be able to log in and view any available course materials. To log in to an online course, follow these instructions.

Technical Requirements and Support

Students should have access to a computer with high-speed Internet access and word-processing software. They may also need to purchase additional course-required software, for example, for a computer applications course.

There are some technical requirements for successful participation in an online course. Students should read the College's Online Learning Technical Requirements webpage to learn more about the required hardware, internet connectivity, and web browser settings.

For help accessing an online course, email or call 607.844.8222, Ext. 4550. For technical assistance while logged in to the course(s), contact the OPEN SUNY Helpdesk at or 1.800.875.6269.

Communicating with Your Online Instructor

Communication in the online learning environment is essential. Just as in a traditional classroom, students are encouraged to ask questions in an online course. Students can post questions to the course, where the instructor or other students may answer them when they log in. Some instructors may log in daily while others may not. If the instructor shares his or her usual log-in times, it is possible to anticipate when a question may be answered.

Before the course begins, students should be sure they understand how the instructor expects to be contacted. Contact information and office hours often appear at the top of the syllabus or course outline. The mentor can provide assistance in helping the student understanding instructor guidelines.

Tutoring and Academic Support Services

Online tutoring is available through the Baker Center for Learning’s Online Tutoring program. Additionally, several helpful Online Resources are available.


Online courses generally require textbooks. Textbooks can be purchased through Tompkins Cortland's bookstore’s website or at the campus bookstore. Information is also available about How to Locate Your Course Textbooks.

Important Information regarding online MATH courses

At the end of the course, there is a 2 hour 20 minute mandatory, comprehensive, in-person, paper-and-pencil, final exam. You must score 60% or higher on the final to pass the course and you need at least an overall average of 73% in the course to earn a C. The final is given during the last days of the course at a time specified by your course instructor. If you cannot take the final on campus, you may request from the instructor, approval to take the course at an alternate location with an authorized proctor. The proctor must be an employee of an educational institution (IE, a teacher, counselor, certified tutor, librarian, or administrator who is not related to you). You must notify your instructor and provide the name, position, and contact information of the proctor for authorization.