Online learning increasingly embodies distance education as a flexible delivery mode in higher education in Australia and beyond. Attractive to adult learners, among others, its market advantages are well-documented, as are its challenges which vary by degree and technological delivery style. Nevertheless, for geographical reasons, notably rurality / remoteness, and caring responsibilities, for many students it remains the only option for career change/progression as online degrees are increasingly marketed and pursued for employment reasons. Despite increasing popularity, online study is characterised by high attrition rates. ‘Sense of connection’ is one way to identify if students feel isolated or connected to others sharing/delivering their higher education experience – classmates and lecturers – while self-identifying as a university student generally or part of one’s course specifically may help further knowledge of the complex relationship self- and social-identity play in the process of achieving academic success. Quantitative and qualitative data generated from telephone interviews with 122 undergraduates enrolled in arts, paramedics, policing, and science courses at a rural-regional Australian university are presented to reveal if and how identity and perceived sense-of-connection affected student experiences.