Let’s be honest – online classes are deceptively harder than they look. How do you force yourself to focus on online classes when there’s no class to go to? Even writing these tips without getting distracted is hard work! As someone who made it through high school doing online studying, here are a few helpful tips to keep you on track.
Have Good Internet Access
Don’t let technological glitches get in the way of your online classes. When a page is stuck buffering for an extra seventeen seconds, I’ve already popped out my phone and dug myself into an Instagram hole. This can make a simple assignment worth maybe two hours of my time suddenly take all night. To keep things moving, make sure you have a strong network to do your assignments on. This is a necessity if you’re taking online classes that use virtual classrooms and video sessions for instructors to teach with. The last thing you want is your feed to go out while your professor is in the middle of going over the next exam. If your network is wimping out at home, try going to a cafe or library instead.
Check-in with Instructors Early
Communication through an online platform can sometimes be confusing. How do you know if your instructor got your message? Did it send? Did they see it? There usually aren’t any read receipts here. You’ll want to shoot them a message as soon as possible in case you must use the timestamp later to prove to them you were in attendance. If you can send them a message directly to their university email – just so they know you have checked in – it could be very helpful in the long run.
Discover Your Resources
Some of us are tech-savvy already, but for the people who aren’t, logging into a whole new study platform can be disorienting. Instructors usually use specific programs for teaching, such as Blackboard or Cengage. You may want to spend some time getting familiar with these apps before the deadlines approach. Don’t be surprised if you discover resources hiding in the totally not user-friendly interface, like an online textbook, flashcards, a grammar-checking app, or a FAQ. They could prove themselves to be plenty useful during crunch time. Your instructor may also leave a list of helpful websites to visit for help during study hours. Believe it or not, checking those out while you do assignments can make things a lot easier.
Make A Study Plan
If you’re already the “planner” type, then this will probably be a fun task for you. If not, you may be groaning just reading this. Thankfully, because we have super high-tech programs like Excel, calendars, and notebooks to make building a schedule for your online classes a breeze. Organizing blocks of time for each assignment is a useful tool when you have a full-time student schedule. Break down the tasks for each assignment to avoid feeling like you are “cramming”. This not only gets things one, but it also makes you feel more productive.
Treat Study Like A Job
Set an alarm for when it is study time. Plan your hours. Take breaks. Most of all, dedicate a special space in your home (or outside your home, like at a library) just for studying. Studies have shown that reserving your bedroom solely for sleeping can help improve your sleep hygiene. Apply this logic to your online classes and imagine how much work you’ll get done! You’ll want a quiet, distraction-free space without time limits on it. Treating your study time as an important activity will keep you focused and ahead of your deadlines. Being ahead of your goals will keep you motivated.
I’m not going to lie. I went down a YouTube hole TWICE while writing this article. Staying focused often feels like I’m fighting myself – especially when my phone and social media are inches away from my palm at any given moment. The best thing I can do for myself to avoid “cramming” is to turn off my phone. If I can’t do that, I’ll put it on airplane mode (it saves more battery than simply turning it off, believe it or not!). If you want to avoid getting distracted during break times, set your timer on your phone for fifteen minutes so you don’t fall into a social media hole.
Take Advantage of the Internet
If you were a college student in the 80s, you’d be stuck going to a library and filtering through a million books to find the answer to one stupid question. But we live in the future, baby! The internet is a bottomless pit of information. You can binge an entire documentary for your history project at the click of a mouse. You can find an online math tutor. You can create a flashcard account to quiz yourself with. If you’re at a total loss, try websites like Chegg, Quizlet, or Course Hero. Many often offer subscriptions that automatically cancel after the semester is over!
Make Study Time Happy Time
Keep the good vibes flowing throughout your study sesh. Have fun curating the perfect study playlist. Play your favorite podcast. If you can’t focus in a noisy environment, treat yourself to noise-canceling headphones and get into the zone. Keep your mind and body harmoniously happy while you get dull but necessary tasks done. Try to focus on the reward waiting for you at the end of all this hard work. Be happy for yourself – you’re getting shit done!
Just because you’re stuck at home doesn’t mean you’re alone. Reach out to friends and classmates so you can study together. You can make a group chat for the class, text each other questions, and set reminders of upcoming deadlines. If you don’t know anybody in your class, there are online portals, university Facebook groups, and discussion forums you can join. Being able to help each other through this transitional period can be a huge relief for confusing, overwhelming assignments.
This is the best part of online classes. You get to treat yourself for your hard work! Doing work on your own, without an instructor in front of you or a whiteboard where you can visually learn the subject, is an accomplishment that should not be underestimated. Self-discipline is a tough skill to learn and even tougher to practice consistently for a whole semester. Set aside little prizes to both pat yourself on the back and keep you motivated. I like to get myself a Grande java-chip frappé. Yum!
Have you figured out the best way to study for you? What is it? What are the biggest challenges? How do you reward yourself? Let us know in the comments below.
Featured image source: https://weheartit.com/entry/305065454
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