5 Tips to be Successful in a New Online Class
5 tips on how to work through an online class from someone who is making the transition herself.
2020 was supposed to be our year. Flash forward to March: stores are closing, restaurants are going take-out only, colleges are shutting down, and classes are suddenly transitioning into online format in the middle of the semester, because of a virus that is taking the world by storm. While we are all practicing social distancing in order to keep ourselves and others safe, many college students are struggling to comprehend what exactly to do with their new online classes. I personally am a college student in Northern Michigan, working through my spring semester of junior year. I am hoping to provide tips for students who are in the same scenario as I am, while trying to figure things out for myself.
I have taken both physical and online classes throughout my high school and college careers. I have found myself to struggle with the online classes more. There is a lack of structure, and a higher accountability for the student to get the work done. Within my online classes, I have been successful in some, and unsuccessful in others. In the list below, I hope to provide some personal experience to help guide some students through the rest of the year.
1. Don't slack off.
I know, this first one seems pretty self-explanatory, but trust me, sometimes it needs to be reminded to some people (including me). When online classes first start, you tend to find yourself putting them on the back burner so to speak, spending more of your time focusing on other things, like other classes or other personal matters. I cannot stress this enough: DON'T SLACK OFF. Motivate yourself to put work into it whenever you have free time, and sometimes make time for it. You may have no idea how stressful it is when all that work starts to pile up, and then a test or big assignment rolls around, and you have stacks of notes and reading that you need to do. This will only lead to you trying to wing the test or assignment, which almost never works out. So, put in the work when you can, and you will be more successful and confident going into the important things.
2. Make sure you are doing the work at a good time.
Especially right now, when our classes are being transitioned from face to face to online, it can be easy to forget about all of the classes that you have. My advice here is to make sure you are doing the work within the class time. For example, my Toxicology class would meet Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10:00 am to 10:50 am. While that may seem like a very short class, when you put in that much work into notes within that time, it can get overwhelming, especially if you decide to spread it out. I have started working on each classes work during the time we would normally meet. So I would work on Toxicology for that 50 minute time, at least. This helps me stay organized, and makes it easier to keep track of all of the work I need to do. I am way less likely to miss anything.
3. Get up and get ready for the class times.
This one kind of follows to tip #2. If you are putting in the work during the time that the class would happen, don't just sit there in your pajamas and in bed. I recommend getting up and getting ready like you normally would for the class. Also, put in the work at a desk or table, not in bed. While it may be more comfortable, it will be easier to fall into a relaxed state, and maybe even fall asleep. This would ultimately be a waste of time. If you get ready and look your best, you will likely feel more motivated and confident to get your work done.
4. TAKE NOTES
It is easy when taking online classes to just sit and read presentations, or listen to videos. I find that when I do this, the information kind of just flows right out of me, and I don't retain anything. It might seem like overkill, or a lot of work, but if you take the time to take notes about what you are reading or listening to, you will likely retain the information better, and you will also have good notes to reference if you need them.
5. Finally, don't try to rush through things.
For some online classes, the professor may just dump all of the information/work on the site and leave you to do it on your own time. This could allow students to rush through all of the work and try to get it done early. I know from personal experience on this one that it isn't the best choice. While it may feel rewarding to finish it all so quickly, you will likely not be doing your best work, and your grade may suffer because of that. I recommend that you do the work when you feel comfortable to do it, within the due dates. Take breaks, enjoy some free time, and get the work done. There is nothing wrong with taking breaks, or even getting frustrated with the work and needing some time away. Do what you can to control your stress, and your work quality and grade will reward you.
I know first hand on challenging this transition from physical classes to online is. Coming from someone who is in the same position as all of you, and who has some experience with online classes, I hope these tips come to you well. Also, please understand that I am in no way an expert, and that every person is different. Please take time to find out what works for you, and stick with it. It doesn't matter how you get it done, as long as you are honest and successful, it will be rewarding in the end.