Hey everyone! Today I want to talk about online classes, and give you all the tips you’re going to need to excel in your online class! Even if you don’t take a full online class, you will likely take a class with an online homework component, and these tips can be helpful for those as well.
Last semester, I took 18 credit hours in person, and 9 credit hours online. That is a lot to keep up with! In order to survive taking so many courses at once, I had to stay on top of it. When you are taking NINE different classes, it can be easy to let things slip! Taking online classes increases the chances of this, because if you forget to log on for a few days you can end up way behind.
It’s important to remember the benefits of taking online classes. You can do all of it from home (or even bed). You have more flexibility about when you want to spend time on it. Usually things are only due once a week, so you can focus on other classes during the week. When you’re thinking about taking an online class, I would recommend starting with just one. If it works for you, great! If not, you might need to look into other options.
- Keep track of deadlines. As soon as you get your syllabus or your course calendar, you should put all the due dates into your planner, or whatever tool you use. I really like to create a master list of due dates for all my classes, and then cross things off as I go. This will make sure that you don’t have that “oh crap” moment on a Friday night at 11:50 when you remember there is an assignment due at midnight. (That actually happened to my roomie freshman year).
- Have a place where your online class materials go. For some reason, since I never put my books in my backpack, they always ended up scattered all over my apartment. The last thing you need is to be frantically searching for your textbook when you’re starting to get close to a deadline! Halfway through the semester I had a specific drawer where all the textbooks for my online classes went. It helped me keep everything together and in one place.
Find a personal connection
- It can be really easy in an online class to forget your professor exists. Since you don’t see them standing in front of you 2-3 times a week, you forget there is a real person teaching the class. Although it may not always be an option with distance education, if you are struggling at all in the class you should go meet the professor. It is so much easier to get your issues across in person than trying to send them an email!
- When you register for the class, look at the class list and see if you know anyone else that is in the course. If it’s a class in your major, you probably will. Both online classes I’m taking this semester have several people in my major that I can reach out to with questions. (i.e have you taken the test yet and what the heck is on it!) If you don’t know anyone, that’s cool. On blackboard (and probably canvas) there is an option to send an email to your class. If you need help and you think others may be able to help you, send an email! Try to refrain from doing this a ton, however, because it can be super annoying for your classmates.
Do the work
- Don’t depend on google. Do, however, make google your friend. A lot of times, quizlet will have the answers you need. If you are in a bind, use them. From experience, though, I want to warn you not to depend on that. A lot of times your tests will require a lock down browser or a proctor, so you won’t be able to utilize quizlet. Other times, your professors are smart enough to reword the questions so you can’t just copy and paste them to get the answers. If you want to do well on the tests, you should probably actually learn the material for the quizzes.
- Block out a specific time. At the beginning of last semester, I told myself I would block off Sunday night to do my online homework. Then I kept getting scheduled at work, or other things would pop up, and I wouldn’t commit to the work. After a few weeks, I decided to block Sunday nights out of my work schedule, so I wouldn’t have to work. I then blocked out a four hour block at a study room in the library and made plans with a friend to go there every Sunday night. Once I did those things, I stayed dedicated and always had plenty of time to finish my work every week. If you don’t want to do all of that, at least set an alarm in your phone or calendar when you are supposed to be working on you stuff. Here is an image of what my google calendar looked like last semester. I blocked out when specific discussion boards were due, and the time I would finish everything up!
- Study! A lot of people see online classes as being easier than regular classes, so they don’t study as hard for the classes. It can be really easy to get bit in the butt when it comes final times and you haven’t really studied all semester and have been skating by. Let me just tell you from personal experience NOT to do that!
Other online class tips
- If it’s an option for you, try working ahead. Some classes prevent that, but some classes let you do the whole semester in one sitting if you want. That might be a little much, but working a few weeks ahead is never a bad idea. Especially if you know you have a rough week coming up soon!
- Don’t get behind. In some classes, they allow you to wait until the end of the semester to turn everything in. Please, for everything sweet and plastic, do not do this. Doing a little bit each week might be a bit tedious, but waiting until the end will kill you! (Not literally but come on don’t do this).
- Check in often. Sometimes your professor will post important notifications, and if you don’t check in you’ll miss them. You also don’t want to *forget* about the class. If you forget, you will end up way behind.
- If you have to take a test/final that only gives you one chance, make sure your technology is in order. Plug in directly to the internet, have your charger ready, and be prepared. Anything can happen with tech, so be prepared.
That’s all I’ve got for you today! What advice do you have for someone taking an online class? Do you have an online class horror story? Let me know in the comments!