If you’re like a lot of college students, you’re looking forward to a hybrid mix of in-person and online classes this fall – that is, if you’re returning to campus this semester at all. As you probably already know, a substantial number of students are going to college online due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States. If you need further evidence, all you have to do is refer to The Chronicle of Higher Education, which has been tracking the plans for roughly 1,260 colleges throughout the summer. According to the publication, only half of U.S. colleges are still planning on in-person instruction. So, there’s a high probability that your college isn’t in that number.
Even if you’re no stranger to online classes – especially after last semester – you might be wondering how you can continue to make the most of a full digital course-load. Hey, you’re right to be curious about the differences between in-person and online instruction, and it’s normal to question your institution’s trajectory. You should know how these online courses would ultimately become worthwhile to students, like you, who already paying an arm and a leg for their education.
It’s also important to consider your role in this dramatic shift. A lot of things you know so well about the college experience will change. For example, you can no longer physically show your dedication to the grade, by showing up to class on time or being visibly attentive. You’ll have to readjust your approach slightly, if you want to translate that go-getting attitude to the online sphere. No worries in that regard, however – uCribs rounded up 4 must-know tips for any college student taking an online class – this semester or any future semester. Check them out below!
Practice your time management.
When it comes to staying on-track with your classes, you already know that time management is a must. But, this is especially true in an online setting. Because you don’t have to physically show up to class,
you might assume that you can slack off early in the semester, before cramming for the final and still pulling off an A. Actually, the opposite is true. In fact, you might find online courses to be more demanding than in-person classes, and time management can either make or break your semester.
Luckily, it only takes a few mindful habits to make the most of your valuable time. Begin the online semester by taking a look at your syllabi – like any ordinary semester – and marking the important dates on your calendar. Create a weekly schedule for studying and working on assignments, and then stick to it. Try time-blocking, or dedicating anywhere from a half-hour to a couple of hours to one task only, to ensure that you spend enough time with each course. When it’s time for your final exam, you won’t have to cram, and you’ll still make the final grade you’ve been after.
Set goals and hold yourself accountable to them.
Like looking ahead to the due dates on your syllabi, setting goals right off the bat will help you stay on course during the most unconventional semester you’ve probably ever experienced. After all, you’re on your own – in a sense – when enrolled in an online course. With no professor holding you accountable throughout the week, and plenty of stressful circumstances surrounding our current day-to-day lives, even dedicated students can have a harder time staying motivated to do well. The remedy? Holding yourself accountable to your schedule and making sure you stay on track with your assignments.
A good way to do this is by assigning yourself mini due dates throughout the semester. Even if you don’t actually have to turn in work to your professor, pretending that you do can kick your motivation in high gear. For example, you might stagger due dates leading up to a major group project. Or, you might decide to write your weekly reading responses in one-week in advance to accommodate that huge report due soon. Tailor your approach to your end goal, and you’ll undoubtedly find a method that works for you.
Minimize any and all distractions.
When attending class from the comfort of home, you’ll likely find yourself face-to-face with countless distractions, from Netflix and your adorable puppy to the mounting pile of dishes in the sink. Though you might think little of them now, these distractions can easily derail your daily schedule, causing harm to your overall productivity. So, it goes without saying that that if you want to crush it in your online classes, you will need to get a grip on these distractions — whatever they may be – so you can properly focus.
Sometimes, you can drown out distracting noises with headphones, and other times, you can just move your laptop set-up to another room when your roommate or family member is being too loud. If smartphone notifications are your personal productivity killers, download apps like Cold Turkey and Freedom, which temporarily block apps or websites that tend to cause distraction. Need to quiet your text messages? Navigate to your phone’s settings tab and you’ll be able to turn off notifications for an established period of time. Ahhh…peace at last!
Find ways to actively participate in your virtual class.
We get it – it’s all too easy to zone out in an online class, when you don’t have to physically be present in a classroom. Even if you’re sticking solely to a learning management system, like Blackboard, or have a professor who doesn’t use video cameras in discussions, you should still make sure you’re actively participating in the class. If you don’t, you might jeopardize a percentage of your final grade, while unintentionally demonstrating to your professor that you’re disinterested in the material. Ouch!
If you’re wondering how to demonstrate your commitment to the class while working remotely, we’ve got a few ideas. If your professor has established an online forum for the class, post and respond to others’ posts regularly – as in, more than the required amount. Ask your professor questions when they arise in class or during an assignment, and when the opportunity arises for peer editing or sharing feedback, take it! You’d be surprised at how little it takes to show your professor and your peers that you’re mentally present in-class, even if you’re not there physically.
Online classes are quickly becoming the norm during the coronavirus pandemic. If you’re signed up for an online class – or, classes – this semester, know that you can crush it in a digital course just as well as you can in-person. You’ll need to take a few things into consideration first, though. Let this list serve as a primer to your online course-load this semester, and we, at uCribs, know you’ll go far!