Online classes have become more and more popular in recent years and it is no surprise why. Students can fit one more class into a busy schedule, take a class at a community college for a lower tuition rate, or even get their entire degrees online.
Taking an online class can be incredibly appealing: You get to make your own schedule (within the confines of a syllabus), work at your own pace, possibly finish early, and probably even save some money. When you’re taking online classes, it can free up time for you to focus on work, your family, traditional classes you’re taking, on-campus activities, and your social life. But online classes aren’t all fun and games–without proper discipline, the convenience can quickly be trumped by panic.
If you don’t stay on top of your online classes, suddenly you may find yourself halfway through the semester and 6 lessons behind or discover that you’ve missed the deadline for an important assignment.
If you’re not familiar with the way online classes work, it’s pretty easy for them to sneak up on you, and suddenly your plans to get ahead or save money look more like mistakes.
But there are some steps you can take to avoid these nightmare-like scenarios and save yourself from sitting up in bed at 3 AM in a panic, remembering that you haven’t logged in to your online class in 3 weeks.
You’ve already taken the first step to survival and begun looking for tools to help you tackle your online class and pass it with flying colors. So give yourself a pat on the back, tell your self you can do it, and use these 7 tips to surviving your online classes.
1. Log into your class as soon as possible
This may sound obvious, but knowing exactly what your professor expects from you from the very beginning (even before the semester starts if you’re lucky) can help you to create a plan of action that will work to get you the best grade possible. Don’t put it off and assume that nothing important will happen in the first week.
2. Log in to your class regularly
It can be really tempting to log in at the beginning of the semester, make a plan, and then only log in on the days when you have an assignment due. But just like in traditional classes, things can change. Your professor may have something come up that requires them to change the schedule, or they may decide mid-semester that they think an extra assignment is necessary. No matter what the change is, logging in often will keep you from being surprised.
Set an alarm each day or every few days that remind you to log in and then stick to the schedule you’ve set for yourself.
3. Devote a certain time of day for your class
Without a set class time, online classes can be fit into any schedule. But not having a specific time also means that it’s REALLY easy to put it off if something you would rather do comes up.
Setting a specific time and schedule for each course will help to keep you on track and engaged in your classes. Use something like iCal or Google Calendar to schedule time for your coursework and stay on top of your deadlines.
4. Get to know your professor
This sounds strange because, in most cases, you never meet your professors for online classes. But if you think of it from the professor’s perspective, they never meet YOU either–you’re something like a faceless name who gets good grades or bad grades.
Sending an email to introduce yourself will automatically give them something other than just your name to think of when they are grading your work, and it can’t hurt to be on their good side.
5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Without a set class time, it can be hard to find the right time or way to ask for help with a difficult portion of your class. Thankfully, as we mentioned above, your professors are still real people even if your classes are online and they really do want to help you achieve your best grade. Sending an email question or contacting them via a message board they’ve set up is a great way to get some help.
6. Use technology to your advantage
There are TONS of different study aids available on the internet and as apps. If you’re taking an online computer science class, look into some of the great free coding classes there are online. If you’re struggling through math, try Khan Academy for some help with those extra tricky topics.
7. Connect with other students
You’re not the only student in class (even if it feels that way sometimes). Reach out to your classmates and see if they’re struggling with the same things you are. Maybe you can create a google hangout study group or discussion thread that allows you to get the help you need and help other students with what they’re struggling with.