Online classes offer incredible opportunities for students. The increased flexibility appeals to a growing number of those pursuing higher education, with nearly1 in 6 students enrollingin exclusively online classes and more than one-third of students taking at least one online class throughout their studies. With the global pandemic of COVID-19, countless universities also now offer online classes to keep students progressing towards their degrees while people abide by the social distancing guidelines.
With the growing importance of online classes within the modern higher-education sphere, students today want to know how to set themselves up to thrive in their classes. Online classes do provide a different environment than students experience in a traditional college situation. With some quality preparations, however, those taking online classes can set themselves up for success.
Here are the steps you should follow to ace your online classes.
Plan out a schedule that will help you keep organized
Organizational skills play a cornerstone role in the success of online classes. Although students need to maintain schedules and keep themselves organized with all types of classes, the lack of in-person meetings can often disrupt the natural flow of classes and studying. It may also make it easier for students to overlook upcoming assignments or exams.
Online classes vary in their structure, with some offering live online classes and others having pre-recorded classes that you watch on your own schedule. Review the type of online class you will be taking and plan your class schedule accordingly.
It can be tempting to put off classes that do not have a mandatory date, but you need to set a schedule that will keep you on track for the course. Right at the start of the semester, block out time each week to attend your online classes.
Also at the start of the semester, you will want to take your syllabus and create a concrete schedule that will allow you to track all the assignments for the class and when they will be due. As you set up your study schedule, keep in mind any outside influences that may impact your ability to work. For example, many people taking online classes appreciate the flexibility to maintain their employment, care for children, or otherwise complete their studies with minimal interruption to their typical schedule.
If you have any upcoming obligations that might impact your ability to study or complete assignments, you will want to plan around this. You might find that your family life or employment will also have items that need to be scheduled, so creating a thorough outline of your semester will allow you to accommodate any of these interruptions.
Designate a study area that allows for distraction-free studying
When completing classes in a home environment, you may also find yourself more prone to distractions than you would have been in a more traditional school environment. Rather than sitting in a lecture hall with other students engaging with the material, you are home with easy access to your kitchen, family members, and countless other distractions that will detract from your ability to focus on your material.
To help you succeed with your online class, you will want to designate a specific study space. Look for an area where you can free yourself from as many distractions as possible. A place that has a small shelf area where you store your class material often works best. This will allow you to keep your materials organized and ensure that when you sit down to study, you have all the items you need. You do not want to try to study for an upcoming exam and find yourself searching all over the room for a missing book.
When selecting your study area, you also want to think about practical considerations. Make sure that the area in question allows for easy internet access to avoid disruptions to your connection. You also want to have a space big enough that you can put out your computer and books and work easily. Make sure that your chair provides the comfort and support you need so that you can remain in your workspace for the duration of the class or study times.
Familiarize yourself with the learning platform
Once you register for an online class, you also want to make sure you familiarize yourself with the platform itself. Make sure you know how to view the classes and assignment lists. Check for features that allow you to submit questions to your professor or communicate with other members of the class.
Some teachers might also have you use a platform to submit assignments, so spend time navigating the online learning options so that you can fully understand how to use it to the best of your ability. Your comfort on the platform will help you engage with your class as optimally as possible and maximize your learning potential.
Along similar lines, make sure you understand how your professor will communicate with you about assignments. For example, you might have a professor who emails you while another posts them in an online classroom. Knowing how information about the class will appear, where to find it, and setting up alerts to ensure that you regularly check this communication to make sure you do not miss anything will help you boost your success in the program.
Actively engage with the class and your professor
Although your learning will now take place online, you do not want to neglect opportunities to engage with your professor. Video conferencing and email makes it easy to get in touch with your professor, allowing you to ask questions and get clarification on the material you cover in class. Some teachers may also establish a type of virtual office hours, similar to how they do in a more traditional learning environment. Take advantage of these times to ask questions that arise, seek necessary guidance on assignments, and begin to build a relationship with your professor.
Speaking directly with your professor can provide you with a variety of benefits. It will help you feel more connected to the class and material personally. Getting to know your professor as well as you can while in a remote environment can also provide you with professional benefits. Building relationships with those in the profession who can mentor you, provide references, and otherwise help you complete your degree and launch your professional career will continue to be important for your future.
Even though the classes now exist online, also keep in mind that assignments and assessments will still be used to gauge your understanding of the material. Therefore, study groups continue to be important. Get to know some of the other students in your online program. Connect with them to form online study groups so that you can review the material together.
Getting to know other people in your program will also help you to begin building a community within your degree program. Working with others in the program, while forming bonds and friendships, can also help you have the best possible experience during your program and give you connections that can help you thrive within your chosen industry.
Build an accountability program
As we already discussed, creating a schedule will help you stay on track with your studies and complete assignments on time. However, an accountability system will help you take this a step further. If you struggle to keep to your schedule, finding it a bit too easy to put off studying when you do not have any hard deadline outside of your own calendar, an accountability system can help considerably.
It will give you some outside motivation, similar to what students in a traditional classroom setting receive when their professor reminds them of upcoming assignments and assessments. Asking a friend or classmate to help you stay on track can help. They can inquire if you have hit your productivity goals for the day and give you extra motivation to reach your own personal goals.
Keep your eye on your goal
Just because a class is taught online, does not mean that it will be any easier than a traditional-style class. Preparing for the challenges of class can help you learn the material, but throughout the process, you want to keep your eye on your end goal. Remember the dream you want to achieve when you finish your classes and degree and use that drive to help you stay on track with your classes and studying.
Online classes can help students reach their professionals goals. Both for students who had signed up for online classes purposefully and for those who had been enrolled in traditional universities before the social distancing guidelines went into effect, a few tips for acing online classes can make a considerable difference. Those enrolled in distancing learning opportunities should consider these steps as they begin their new classes and consider how these steps can help them excel.