In previous decades, people had to earn a college degree by attending in-person classes. This is hard for people with complex schedules and working professionals. It often deters many from pursuing higher-level education. Thanks to today's advanced technology, it is easier than ever before to find an online degree program that is flexible. You can opt to attend in-person classes or take everything online or possibly combine the two options.
Advantages Of Online Classes
Learning where you want and when you want are two of the main reasons people love online class flexibility. This makes life easier if you have a job, family, or other commitments. When you don't have to attend classes in person, you can opt to attend degree programs from all over the world, which may have been extremely expensive or inconvenient to attend in person.
It is wise to think ahead and prepare for the challenges that online classes will bring. This will allow you to be proactive. However, if you develop excellent online learning skills, you will see that classes online provide a great alternative to traditional classroom settings. The following tips can help you make your venture a success and allow you to obtain the most value from the courses.
Top Tips for Online Classes
If you are currently enrolled in an online program or still considering taking one, the advice and tips below can help you become aware of the potential challenges that you may face and how to deal with them effectively.
1. Online Classes aren't easier than Regular Classes
You need to be dedicated and committed with discipline to succeed. Set time aside each day for tasks and follow through with an action plan. It can be easy to put things off and then you will fall behind. This can be exhausting and upsetting and stressful. The flexibility of online courses is great, but you need to set a schedule to stay on track.
You are paying for these classes, and this can encourage you to stay on track. You need to show up as though you were attending traditional in-person classes to get the most value from your class. Think of your online courses the same way you would a job or daily campus classes and you will be in the proper mindset for success.
2. Determine Your Best Learning Abilities
Figure out what type of learner you are and when you accomplish your best work. Are you a night owl? Perhaps working on your computer after supper will be ideal. Are you an early bird? Consider having breakfast and then tackling some coursework. Are there kids in your life who demand your attention in the morning and at night? Try to work while they are at school if possible. If you are also working during the day, consider using your lunch break as a time to catch up on reading and writing.
Have a cup of coffee in the morning or a protein shake or tea and get everything going. Everyone learns differently. Consider the best way you like to study and learn new concepts. Are you a listening learner? Take time to play and replay all video and audio course content. If you are more of a visual learner, print out the transcripts for your video lectures and re-read them.
3. Active Participation Is Key
It is essential and often required to participate in forums and engage with other students online. You can achieve this by giving feedback or commenting on a discussion board about your classmate’s work, asking a question about a project you are involved with, etc.
Read the discussion boards to see the other posts from your class and your professor. Seek clarification if required. Ensure you are checking these message boards often. The great thing about flexible online courses is that you can post a question or comment in little time and work it into your regular schedule when you have a few minutes to spare. Set a daily goal of checking class discussion threads daily.
Ask a professor for help if you fall behind. Do not wait until the due date to voice your concerns or questions. If there are any issues, report them. Be proactive and email your professor for help and clarity.
4. Design An Organized & Welcoming Workspace
What is your ideal learning environment? You will establish a routine if you revisit a place to complete your assignments. Do you have a home office to use? Are you heading to the kitchen table or a window seat or using a desk? Maybe you like to go to the library or a coffee shop?
If your location offers high-speed internet, you should be able to conduct your online courses. You don't want to fight with a poor connection when you are working online.
Having a regular spot to complete your tasks will allow you to stay organized. Know exactly where your vital files, learning materials, important dates, books, forms, assignments, and syllabi live. This will allow you to focus on your goals. Here are some tips to consider when you are setting up your study area:
- Have an ergonomic workstation where you can sit up straight and have your feet flat on the floor.
- Enjoy a bright, well-lit location and have a table lamp or some LEDs as a backup.
- Use headphones to cancel out noise or help you focus during online meetings.
- Eliminate distractions such as your phone and social media and the TV.
Say No To Distractions
If you can see dirty dishes on the counter and in the sink, or have a noisy roommate, it can be easy to lose your mind. Avoid derailing your studies by determining what is distracting you and how to fix it.
Your unique situation and your personality will determine how easy or hard it is to deal with distracting things, places and people. If you find yourself wanting to cook and clean instead of working online, it might be more productive to leave the house. If you find that noise can be eliminated by your favorite playlist, headphones might be your best friend. Consider what kind of learning environment is conducive to you and go from there.
Turn Your Phone Off
Keep your phone turned off to stop constant notifications from Twitter and Facebook and Instagram. Consider website blocker apps like Freedom or Cold Turkey to stop distractions from taking over. This technology works by blocking the websites and apps that try to rob you of your attention. Consider telling your family and friends when your designated study time is so that they can respectfully leave you alone.
6. Develop Time Management Strategies
Creating your own schedule is one of the biggest draws for online learning. However, this immense freedom comes with great responsibility. If you don't have excellent time management skills, you may end up pulling all-nighters trying to cram and study or handing in less-than-savvy work assignments. If you feel you are procrastinating at any time, nip it in the bud so that you don't fall behind.
Ask For Help
If you need to arrange a private chat with your instructor, set one up. If you are procrastinating because you don't understand something or feel that it will be difficult, it is easy to put the task off. Are you noticing a pattern with your work habits or certain subjects? It is time to get this under control by asking for help so that you can move forward positively.
Your personality, your learning style and your schedule will determine how you manage your time. Check out the following tips to help you solidify your time management strategies.
Mark Your Calendar Right Away
Take note of your syllabus at the beginning of your semester and write down your due dates and assignments. Use a calendar to check frequently so you know what your workload looks like in the coming weeks. Mark down work and family commitments, travel and sports on your calendar at the same time to make any conflicting dates noticeable so that you have time to work ahead to complete your work.
Establish Your Weekly Schedule
Devote specific hours every week to listening to lectures, reading, participating in online forums, studying, and working on assignments. Make your online course part of your weekly routine. Use reminders and timers to help keep you on track.
Time-Blocking To Stay On Task
Allot specific time to complete each task when you are working on assignments. Have a timer going to stay accountable. Do not move on to the following task until you complete the first one. This is a great strategy to help you get your assignments completed in a timely manner.
Periodically, throughout the term, look at how you are spending your time and energy. Are you dedicating enough time to assignments, studying and reading? Are you taking too much time to complete tasks because you are underestimating the time it takes? Are you finding yourself cramming before tests and staying up too late? Conduct an honest self-reflection regularly to check in on your progress.
7. Remain Accountable and Commit Yourself
Set goals at the beginning of the semester and check in with yourself weekly. In a traditional classroom setting, you’ll often receive verbal or visual reminders of an assignment’s upcoming due date.
Without a professor actively reminding you, it’s up to you to make sure you’ve allotted enough time to complete the work so you’re not starting an assignment the day before it’s due.
If you’re having trouble holding yourself responsible, pair up with a fellow classmate, or enlist the help of a spouse or friend to check in as an accountability partner. By being organized, proactive, and self-aware, you can get the most from your online class even when life outside of school becomes chaotic.
Are you having a hard time keeping track of your workload? Consider asking a friend, spouse, or fellow classmate to check in with you as an accountability partner. Staying self-aware and organized are keys to your success. You will be able to stay on top of your courses when your life outside of school becomes extra busy.
8. Build Your Network
It can be lonely sometimes when you are studying online. However, this doesn't have to be the case. There will be tons of collaboration opportunities with your classmates, instructors, and professors. You will be actively encouraged to work together with your peers to discuss coursework and finish assignments by working together.
Establish relationships with fellow students by engaging in online discussions and introducing yourself. These people are vital resources in your learning journey. You will be asking them for feedback and possibly preparing for exams together.
Creating a virtual study group is exciting and informative. They will appreciate your efforts as much as you will look forward to hearing their ideas.
Enjoy your Online Learning Experience
Online classes deliver plenty of real-world skills you will rely on to attain your goals. They arrive with their own specific challenges and unique opportunities. Following advice and teamwork can help you succeed in difficult times.