During my freshman year of college there was a constant joke going around about how online classes were so much easier than in-person classes. But during the past two years, I have learned that online classes are not easy at all, and I would argue can be much harder. I found it more difficult to grasp curriculum, and easier to focus on everything besides school and fall behind.
If you are currently taking an online class, or are planning to take one soon, this blog is for you. Below are the five key ingredients I found to achieve success in online courses. These ingredients are tried and true and will never fail you.
- Organize your time – This is perhaps the most essential ingredient to success. You need to set aside time each week to focus on your class rather than simply doing assignments when you remember to do them. Setting aside time during the week is critical to getting your body in a groove and helps keep you on track in terms of due dates, leaving you ample time to study. My rule of thumb is to set aside two hours a week per credit hour for each online course you are taking.
- Write down all your assignments and due dates – It is easy for students to fall behind on work when they rely on a syllabus to tell them when an assignment is due. Syllabi are often complex and may not be organized in the most logical or coherent manner; it is easy to forget what assignments are due when even after reading them. That is why another key ingredient is to write down all the assignments and due dates. I use Microsoft Excel to write down all my assignments for all my classes into one sheet with each class designated by a different color listed by due date. This way I can quickly see what important projects are approaching.
- Utilize a calendar – When you organize your time, put your designated focus time for each class in your calendar. This way you won’t schedule other events like dinners, dates, or whatever, on time you already designated for your classes. Simply telling yourself that you will do the class material another time is a recipe for disaster! Keep yourself in the routine and use a calendar.
- Communicate – This may sound easy, but it is critical to communicate to others in the class, and to those in your life about what you are working on. Communicating with others about class work is an easy way to reinforce course material and keep your mind in the academic mindset. Additionally, communicating with family or friends about the fact that you are taking an online course allows an external check to exist as they might ask how your classes are going and what you are working on.
- Attend office hours – There is a reason why your professors or TAs have office hours each week and that is to help you. Take advantage of this opportunity to get one-on-one time with your instructor as they will help you fully grasp the course material. Plus, you will begin to establish a relationship which can help in the future should you need to ask them for letters of recommendation.
Online classes aren’t easy, and that’s okay. But following these five ingredients are the key to success in online classes.
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