The higher education landscape is changing, and we might as well face it head on. Technology is advancing and becoming more thoroughly integrated into instruction and learning methods, and people are becoming busier as they take on multiple jobs and responsibilities. Many traditional, in-person classes are being transitioned into hybrid or online-only classes, and there are countless universities that are conducted exclusively online. While these adjustments in higher education are great for tech-savvy people who are confident in their ability to adapt to change, students who struggle with traditional courses are more prone to resist these changes due to the fear of being unable to adapt.
Even though the digital age might not be for everyone, there are many benefits to taking online classes that apply to just about every student. One of the most beneficial elements of online classes is the lack of commuting to and from school. Some students drive hours to and from school each day; that’s valuable time that could be spent studying and getting ahead on assignments that are upcoming. Commuting is also often accompanied by unforeseen circumstances that can make you late to class or force you to skip class altogether. I can’t tell you how many times freeway construction prevented me from getting to class on time no matter how early I left!
Another benefit of online classes is the ability to learn however is most efficient for you. Working alone gives you the privacy of learning at your own pace and not subconsciously comparing your pace or your progress to that of other students. You also have much more control over your school–life balance because you’re constantly at home. You can also stop what you’re doing at any time and run an errand, have a snack, or just take a Netflix break!
So, if the thought of enrolling in online classes intimidates or intrigues you—or both—then read the following pieces of advice that will help you manage your time, practice self-discipline, and reach success in all your future and current online classes.
Create and follow an independent study schedule
Before you begin your online classes, you should make sure you have access to an agenda or electronic calendar. On your first day, you should be receiving a syllabus from each class that outlines all your major assignments, projects, quizzes, tests, and finals. In your agenda or calendar, plan out the entire quarter or semester as soon as you are given syllabuses to keep track of due dates and testing dates. You should also specify certain hours during each week for independent study. It’s important that you start out as organized as possible because smaller assignments will likely be administered later on that are not listed on the class syllabus. It’s much easier to keep track of all your responsibilities when they’re written down in a neat and orderly fashion, especially if you’re a bit scatter brained like me!
If you have access to Microsoft Outlook, the calendar feature is perfect for tracking your due dates and testing dates because you can set alerts that will notify you when something is coming up. Or, if you’re old school and prefer keeping a physical organizer, make sure you pick one that has plenty of space to jot down notes and additional assignments as they come up.
Join classmates in an online study group
Comradeship is an essential element of college that is typically missing from online classes. Reach out to your fellow classmates and offer to start a study group or check out online portals, discussion boards, and social media platforms to connect with other students taking similar classes. Use these platforms as a virtual classroom where you and all other students engage in open discussions that mimic in-person classroom debates. Ask your online colleagues for help when you need it and offer your help in return. Students learn from each other just as much as they learn from their professors, so it is very important that you maintain a level of communication with other students in order to be successful in all your online classes.
Also, you should always reach out to your professor and ask for help if you need it. If your online study group can’t answer a question you have, don’t give up; email or call your professor and ask for clarification—that’s what they’re here for!
Stay ahead of all due dates
Make sure you’re planning out your study and work strategy for each week according to what’s due. You’ll find yourself the most content with your online classes if you’re always on top of what needs to be turned in. It’s really easy to procrastinate and do the bulk of the work on the day something is due, which only adds unnecessary stress and uncertainty to your plate.
Instead of procrastinating and saving your classwork for later, start your day off by completing any outstanding assignments and studying for any upcoming tests, and then use the rest of your day however you please!
Hold yourself accountable
It’s easy to become distracted and procrastinate when you’re not in a physical classroom. In physical classroom settings, professors often give their students reminders for when assignments are due or when a quiz is on the horizon. As an online student, you must be responsible for setting these reminders for yourself. Use your phone alarm, your Outlook calendar, or any other reliable reminder system you have access to.
If you find that you’re having trouble staying on top of due dates and testing dates, pair up with a classmate and hold each other accountable. If your study buddy isn’t enough, then don’t hesitate to ask your professor for help.
Practice positive reinforcement
Reward yourself for getting good grades. If you’re all work and no play, you can get burnt out pretty quickly. Treat yourself to a nice dinner or go out with friends when you pass a test or get an A on a project, but make sure you don’t engage in activities during the school week that might prevent you from showing up or turning in an assignment the next day.
What do you think of these tips for mastering online classes? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
Featured image source: https://www.steelcase.com/eu-en/research/articles/topics/working-from-home/suddenly-working-home/
Jamie graduated from Cal Poly Pomona in 2016 with a Bachelor of Arts in English. She is an aspiring writer, professional editor/proofreader, and piano player. In her free time, Jamie enjoys reading classic literary works, composing music, and playing Xbox with her husband!