Taking classes online can be challenging, but convenient. The ability to access all of your materials online, wherever you are, at whatever time of day is most convenient to you, is an undeniable benefit of taking classes online. However, without meeting in person, it’s easy to forget about assignments or upcoming tests. You don’t have the same level of access to classmates and your professor, which means working more independently, and with less collaboration than a typical college class would allow. Additionally, you may still have specific deadlines to meet, and, just like any other class, your professor may not accept late work.
It’s important to manage your time wisely when taking classes online. As with all classes you take, you should go over the syllabus and class schedule carefully, if possible, before the class begins. A tip that helps most students, is to build regular “class times” into your schedule, and stick to using that time for course work. Note any important deadlines or due dates well in advance, and make room in your schedule to set aside structured “study time,” whenever convenient. If you’re using Google Calendar, you can even set reminders for upcoming due dates or tests. Your classes are a real commitment, and even though there are less rigid requirements for online classes, you should still treat them as a priority in your life, like you would a job.
Most students work best in a dedicated study area, somewhere quiet with few distractions. It is important that this location be someplace that your brain will associate with being productive and working on assignments. That means that your bed, couch, or apartment are not the best places to work, as tempting as they may be. Stay mentally engaged in school work for the duration of your dedicated “study time” to be most effective. Quiz yourself while you read, reread things that don’t make sense, and limit your use of social media. Another tool that helps many people is note taking. An education coach can show you several different methods for note taking, and you can use the one that works best for you. Keeping notes in a dedicated place, in order by date, will make them easy to find when you need them.
Breaking down tasks is another tool that our education coaches teach our students. Very few people can produce an intelligible research project in a single day. It is important to schedule time to work on large projects in chunks, starting with the first steps, such as research, and moving on to drafting assignments and then reviewing, editing, and finalizing them. Some students may find that joining a study group is helpful to them, while others may find it distracting. Discuss with your education coach which study methods work best for you, and ask questions whenever you need clarification.
Be sure to stay healthy, get plenty of sleep, drink water, and take breaks from school and studying. Set goals, and reward yourself for meeting them. If you’re dedicated, you can make online classes a viable option for getting your college credits!