In years past, getting your college degree meant going to classes on a campus near your home. This often made things difficult for working professionals or people with family obligations. Today, things have evolved.
Now you can take many classes online, from bachelor’s degrees to master’s degrees, including courses to earn CEUs to maintain licensure in your profession. In fact, there were 6.9 million students taking online classes in 2018.
However, taking classes online can present some challenges if you are not ready for them. Read the helpful tips below so that you’re prepared for success when you take online courses.
Treat It Like a Real Class
When you are taking an online class, you realize that you need the discipline to sit down and work on your class assignments. You also must have the dedication to follow through on your homework and other related online activities. While taking many online classes gives you more flexibility to choose when you do your work, you must do it eventually.
An easy way to make sure you get your online coursework done is to remember you are paying for the class, just as you would for a college campus course. You need to show up and be engaged to get value from the class. If you treat an online class just like an on-campus class, you will do well in the course.
It is vital to establish goals at the start of each semester and check how you are proceeding with your plans every week. In a regular class, you will get constant visual and verbal reminders on when assignments are due. But if your teacher does not remind you actively online, it is on you to ensure you have enough time to finish the task, so you are not rushing through an assignment two hours before it is due.
If you have trouble with accountability, contact one of your classmates to keep both of you on task. By having an accountability partner, you will be more proactive, organized, and self-aware.
Use Effective Time Management
Being able to devise your schedule is a major appeal of online classes. But all of that freedom can hurt you if you don’t have adequate time management skills. Without good time management, watch out for cramming before a class or turning in poor assignments.
How you manage your time depends on you and your schedule. Here are some guidelines that will help you manage your time more efficiently:
- Check your syllabus at the beginning of every course. Note when major assignments are due. Mark them on a calendar on your desk to know how much work is coming in the next few weeks. Remember to account for personal commitments that can interfere with your school schedules, such as work meetings or vacations.
- Make a weekly schedule that you follow. Assign certain hours per week to read, watching online lectures, finishing assignments, general studying, and participating in group work.
- When you’re doing homework, try to allow a block of time for every task before going on to another one. You can even set a timer to make you accountable.
- Review how you’re spending your time online every month. Ask yourself how much time you are spending on your reading and assignments? Also, inquire if you are underestimating the time it takes you to get things done so that you have to cram the day before a project is due. Some self-reflection can improve your results.
Create A Dedicated Study Areas
It is essential to set up a regular study space for your online courses. By doing your work there regularly, you will establish a routine. Whether your study area is a kitchen table, a library, a booth in a coffee shop, or a home office, it is essential to have this dedicated space to get your work done consistently. Try a few different locations to see which setting improves your productivity.
Having a common study area also keeps you organized. You know where essential files, forms, dates, books, and assignments are to hit your study goals. As you set up your space, ensure that you have a good Internet connection, have all the required materials for the course, and have good headphones to listen to lectures and discussions.
Nuke All Distractions
When you start to study from home, you will discover endless distractions that can derail your work. Everything from social media to Netflix to your kids asking you for things can keep you from reaching your educational goals. The best online students learn how to manage these distractions and put aside time to focus on school.
If you find you are distracted at home, go to the library for your classes, or try a local coffee shop. Slip on some headphones and listen to your studies or music and focus.
Remember to silence your cell phone during your class so you don’t get distracted by text messages, phone calls, or social media. Free applications such as Cold Turkey and Freedom can cut distractions by blocking timewaster sites, such as Facebook and Twitter.
See How You Learn Best
Once you’ve figured out your online classes’ study space, think about how you get your best work done. If you like to get up early, make your primary study time first thing in the morning. Suppose you prefer working at night, set aside time before bedtime to get your studying on. If children require your time in the morning and evening, try to have a study session in the middle of the day when they are in class.
The Bottom Line
Taking classes online is an excellent experience for many people. Online courses allow us to take lessons from institutions all over the country and world, and we can learn from the comfort of our own home. By implementing some of the above guidelines, you will be able to study more efficiently and get your best academic results.