Let’s face an unpleasant reality.
Until fall of 2020 most colleges are going to be all online classes.
For some this will be an easy transition but for others it’s going to be really difficult. So I went back to my college years and talked to former and current students to compile 8 helpful tips for taking online classes.
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1) Know every deadline
Without a teacher or professor reminding you in class it’s easy to lose track of deadlines and test days. So get an academic planner (here’s my 6 favorite options) and write down every deadline and keep it updated as things change. Online classes can be very fluid so stay on top of changes and keep a close eye out for messages/updates from your teacher.
For online classes it’s also important to know the exact time things are due and that tests will take place.
Sometimes it will be the beginning of your class time, sometimes the end, sometimes midnight, or a totally random time! And it can vary within the same class. So make sure you also write down the exact times things are due.
2) Don’t let yourself believe it’s “just an online class”
It is very each to kind of write off online classes.
But even if your class truly is easier when it’s online it’s still an opportunity to learn and it may also filter into future classes. For example, maybe this is an online trigonometry class and all the quizzes are multiple choice and the answers are on quizlet. Cool but what happens when you get to calculus and you don’t understand trig? Learn the material!
Also, don’t ever assume a class is going to be easy because it’s online. I have had classes that were actually harder that were online. This can be for a variety of reasons but the moral of this is don’t assume that a class is easy just because it is online.
3) Create a good study space
Hint: your bed is not a good study space.
I understand that not everyone is able to have a desk in their room and you have to make what you have work. If this is the case for you then make sure to make your bed and try to keep it as “decluttered” as possible. Also try to sit up in your bed while you study rather than sitting down.
If you do have a desk available (or a kitchen table if you have a living situation where you won’t be interrupted) then use that!
Clear off the desk of anything non-academic and get it organized. Make sure you have any supplies you will need easily accessible. Get your chargers for your laptop and phone plugged in and find the best way to keep the cords out of your way. Try to find the best position for your laptop and your notebook (if you are using one).
Get a desk organizer so you can use the vertical space to help stay organized.
Also, make sure to prop up your planner somewhere visible so you can stay on top of what’s due that day. Or consider getting a wall planner!
4) Turn off your phone during studying/lectures
Either turn off your phone or at least put it on do not disturb. Not only does your focus get interrupted every time your phone buzzes but it’s also so easy to fall down a social media hole and miss half the class or not get your assignment in on time.
I have more resources on minimizing other distractions as well but your phone is the #1 thing that will distract you during online classes. So just eliminate the distraction as soon as possible and limit how many times you check your phone.
Get a phone jail if you find this too hard to do without a little help.
Use your phone as kind of a “reward” for working hard!
5) Participate in your class
Participating in class has 2 benefits:
A: helps you stay engaged. Participating keeps you engaged with the class which keeps your brain from losing attention. It’s incredibly easy to kind of “drift away” during an online lecture so participating in the question asking/answering will help keep you engaged and focused.
B: can help your grade. I would say about half of my online classes has participation credit that you needed to get but even if your class doesn’t have it your teacher will notice if you are participating or not! Staying on a teachers good side is easy in an online class, just ask a few questions or answer their questions!
6) If you’re not “tech savvy”, find someone who is
I am decently tech savvy but when sites start crashing or I can’t get the internet back on after trying the basic things then I have to ask for help.
Do not be embarrassed asking for computer/technology help when it comes to online classes! This is your education on the line and sometimes online classes can lead to strange technology questions that not every one will know so ask for help!
Most colleges will have an IT department for students that can help you. For high school students- if you can’t find someone to help or the help on the internet then make sure to alert your teacher of the problem so you don’t get docked points if you miss a test or submit an assignment late.
7) Don’t be afraid to get clarification
If you have a question then make sure to ask! It’s super easy to fall behind or get lost in an online class. So don’t be afraid to ask questions on the material to make sure you fully understand.
Also, if there is any confusion about test times or due dates then make sure to ask. It’s, unfortunately, pretty common for online classes to have due dates in a couple different places and they can end up being updated or changed in one place but not others.
So never be afraid to ask!
8) Keep up the motivation
When I was asking my friends who went or currently take online classes what the HARDEST part of online classes is, almost every one of them said something along the lines of “staying motivated”.
So don’t let your motivation dry out!
Take study breaks. Don’t let your brain burn out from working on school work. Remember- both in high school and college you don’t do 8 straight hours of school work.
Reward yourself for the work you do. When you turn in an assignment then allow yourself an episode of your favorite show. Even if this isn’t something you would normally do it’s totally okay to reward yourself for accomplishing academic tasks when your courses are online. You lose the social motivation and obligation to get things done so in exchange you can substitute other ways to motivate yourself.
Online classes can be totally different from in-person but if you stay focused and work hard you can still learn and get good grades!
More questions? Drop them in the comments and I will respond asap!