During the disruption caused by the current coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, you may feel a little lost. Don’t worry, that’s normal. To help you adjust to online classes, we’ve put together some strategies for you. If you have any questions, our staff, instructors, and advisors are here to assist you – and remember, a little patience goes a long way.
If you’ve never taken an online course before, you’re probably wondering where to start and what you should expect.
Keep in mind that online classes aren’t any easier than other types of classes, and they should be taken just as seriously as your in-person and hybrid classes. There are no shortcuts with taking your classes online without an in-person instructor guiding you.
For information about available workshops, courses, or to attend an orientation, reach out to your college for more information.
8 Strategies for Managing Online Classes
1. Set Realistic Goals
If you ask the most successful people what their secret to success is, they’ll tell you that they set goals. Goal setters tend to see the big picture and future possibilities in advance. Setting goals is essential for succeeding in your classes and in life.
Did you know that people that have goals are 10x more likely to succeed?
In determining what your goals should be, try closing your eyes and imagine the life you’ll have if your goals are met. Next, determine what you need to do to achieve those goals. Your goals may be a commitment to doing more homework, attending a certain number of your instructors’ office hours, or dedicating a set time to prepare for exams.
After you’ve zeroed in on your goals, write them out. Research shows that people who write down their goals are 33 percent more successful in achieving them than people who set goals in their heads only.
Written goals become more real, allowing you to truly embrace their intent, and visualize your progress toward the finish line.
A few things to keep in mind when writing your goals: keep them realistic, tangible, and make them short-term.
Once you have set your goals, be sure to check-in with yourself weekly to make sure you’re on track to achieving them. The weekly check-in allows you to proactively adjust your goals if needed so you can stay in control and continue to make them attainable.
2. Prioritize Assignments
Once you’ve set a goal for your education, the next step is prioritizing your assignments and tasks.
The first step in prioritizing is understanding completely what is involved with each assignment or task. How can you prioritize when you don’t understand the full scope of the task?
Next, rank each task by its importance, scope, and due date. Determine how many hours you’ll need to set aside for each one, and the deadline you need to finish each task by so you don’t procrastinate and become overwhelmed. Projects that will take several hours can be spread out over days or weeks. Make studying for tests a priority and allow yourself several days to prepare.
An effective technique for prioritizing assignments is taking care of the bigger, more urgent items first, then tackling the smaller assignments that won’t take up as much time. As you get tired, the harder assignments are out of the way, and you’re left with the easier more manageable ones.
Prioritize your assignments ahead of time and create a roadmap so you’re not behind before you even begin!
Learning how to prioritize takes practice, but after you get a rhythm you’ll be an old pro at it!
3. Create a Daily Schedule and Stick to It
Another strategy for success is to create a schedule of daily tasks you need to complete, such as finishing assignments, studying, contacting instructors, and completing projects. This will keep you mindful of what you need to do and help you to set aside enough time to work on it.
It’s amazing how much you’ll be able to achieve every day when you designate a specific amount of time to your online classes.
Where and how you document your daily schedule is up to you. There are several options out there, including daily planner templates you can download for free and print at home and daily planner books you can buy online or in-store.
Here are five daily planners that include the pros, cons, and summary review.
One successful time management technique, time blocking, allows you to schedule and plan specific work and activities for defined time slots, down to the minute. This strategy is proven to help people be more successful and maximize their focus.
Check out this list of several different time management apps and tools.
Helpful tip: Give yourself at least a 10-minute break after completing each task.
4. Connect with Your Instructors and Advisor
To make sure you’re on track to a successful outcome with your courses, it’s a good idea to connect with your instructors during their online office hours (also known as e-advising). E-advising is a great opportunity to reach out to your instructor with any questions you have on course content, as well as bring up any issues that are hindering your success with the course. Instructors are also a great resource for referring class tutors, study groups, and additional resources should you need it.
Helpful tip: Find out when your instructor’s office hours are as soon as possible so you can plan your communication and when you can receive a response.
Academic advisors are a valuable resource to help you stay on track toward your goals, whether it’s completing a degree, certificate, or transferring to a university. Your advisor can also refer you to valuable resources. Advising can take place by phone or online conference as often as necessary to get your questions answered.
5. Use Remote Study Groups
Remote study group apps like Google Hangouts, FaceTime, or Skype are an effective way to help one another when struggling to understand a concept. Teaching each other helps to internalize the material more easily. An added bonus is you’ll find you complete your assignments more quickly. Study groups, however, are only useful if you structure them and everyone is prepared.
6. Study, Study, and Keep Studying
Preparing for upcoming exams takes focus, good time management skills, and persistence.
A general guideline is to study for 10 hours per week, per class. Take the time every day to utilize the time/study blocks you’ve set to review your notes. Daily studying will lead to an easier and more effective way to absorb the information, which will stick in your brain in the long run. Not to mention, you’ll avoid having to cram for the test.
Make sure you have a dedicated, quiet space to study where there are no distractions.
Helpful tip: Get plenty of rest the night before the exam. Feeling rested will do wonders for your well-being and frame of mind. Also, eating healthy before you take the exam will get your synapses firing, leaving you energized and focused.
7. Allow for Computer and Internet Issues
Studying online gives you great freedom but comes with certain challenges if you have technical issues. With that in mind, budget your time to allow for computer or internet issues and try to avoid waiting until the last second to complete an assignment. Also, make sure you have a backup plan if you have a hardware or software issue. Who has a computer you can borrow? Where else can you access the internet?
8. Practice Self-care
Hectic school schedules can zap your energy and leave you with no personal time for yourself. Be sure to take the time to give yourself what you need and be patient with yourself. Practicing self-care on a consistent basis can drastically improve your well-being, self-esteem, and how you perform in school. Self-care also increases the resiliency that you need to help bounce back when problems arise in your life.
Your online courses can take you on an exciting journey that is flexible and fulfilling. Follow the suggestions above so you can successfully manage your online classes!