Here are 8 tips and strategies on how to succeed in online classes and make the process as smooth as possible.
Today, more than ever, online learning is a popular way to take classes and even earn a full degree. Did you know that between 1998 and 2008, there has been a 150% increase in the number of students selecting online classes? And according to a poll by the National Center for Education Statistics, 5,954,121 students enrolled in distance education at the post-secondary level in 2015. Taking online courses is practical, efficient, and a more logical choice for many students. The key is knowing how to succeed in online classes.
Here at University of the People, you can earn an entire degree online without having to leave the comfort of your home to attend classes. It’s accessible to anyone who has an internet connection. Plus, it’s a great way for students of all ages to continue their education, from recent high school graduates to mothers at home to seniors who simply wish to learn something new. Now, online education allows anyone to learn whatever they want, wherever they are in the world!
When beginning something new, there is a learning curve involved. It may take some time to get into the groove. We know how tough it can be to start learning something new. But remember, every beginning is hard. And then it gets better! There are always ways to make the process easier to help yourself succeed.
It’s important to know that online classes require a certain amount of discipline, motivation, and effort. We have put together some tips and strategies to help you best manage and succeed in your online classes.
1. Start light
Starting out small can be really helpful, especially for new online learners. It can be overwhelming to take on a full course load all at once. So it might be a good idea to start out with one or two courses, perhaps in the summer or during a non-busy time of the year for you. This way you can test the waters and see how you like it. If all goes well, you can add more courses as you go along.
For those of you that may be studying lots of courses already try breaking up the work into small chunks. For example, instead of aiming to read a whole book in a week, try reading a chapter each day. When you make small goals, it’s easier to achieve them.
2. Make a workspace for yourself
Find a spot (at home, in a library, or at your favorite coffee shop) that you enjoy being in and make it your study spot. If you go to the same place every time, it will become natural to you and you’ll start to get into the zone. You can almost train yourself to focus whenever you go to that specific place. Just make sure it doesn’t have too many distractions.
If you have family that you need to take care of, try to plan your study time around it. Study at night or early in the morning when everyone else is sleeping and the house is quiet and calm. Maybe you’ll need to hire a babysitter or ask family and friends to take the kids out for a number of hours every week.
The point is to make a place for yourself that is for you and only you, so that you can comfortably focus and be productive.
3. Get good at time management
Time management is a huge factor in online learning success. You’re basically on your own, with no students sitting around you in a lecture hall, listening to a professor, with scheduled lectures to attend. This means you need to manage your time well. Part of managing your time is knowing how much to devote to your studies and how long you need to work on assignments.
With each course, you get a syllabus that includes due dates. It’s on you to know how much time you need to finish your work before it’s due. Are you one to start on a project right away? Or do you tend to procrastinate?
About 87% of students procrastinate on school assignments according to a study done by StudyMode. So if you’re a procrastinator, know that you’re not alone! There are lots of tools to help you. Lifehack has a list of great time management apps that you can use to help you get on schedule and use your time wisely.
Part of time management is also knowing how to fit in all the other important things in your life, like family, friends, work, and so on. Keeping a balance between school and the rest of your life is really important and will prevent the feeling of being burnt out.
4. Stay organized
Staying organized is going to keep you on track. There are many ways to get yourself organized.
On your computer, for example, you can create a folder for each course and assignment. You can use a calendar, either on paper or on your device, with all your due dates and reminders. The great thing about electronic calendars is that you can set reminders for yourself. It’s like having your own personal assistant. Think about what you prefer — colorful Post-it notes or daily reminders on your phone. Or both! Either way, it’s going to help you succeed.
Think of it this way: keeping your external world tidy transfers to your internal world — and vice versa. Getting into the habit of keeping your space and your things organized is likely going to help you think in a more organized way. Try it and see!
5. Use all your resources
Every college has student resources, including online universities. It’s always a good idea to find your college’s student resources webpage and see what they offer. At University of the People, for instance, there is a dedicated student support advisor for each student plus mentors to help guide them throughout their studies.
With most online courses, there are chat rooms where you can communicate with other students. There are also service emails and phone numbers to contact if you face technical problems. It would be a good idea to keep all the emails handy and accessible so you know where to look when you need help.
6. Technology is your friend
Get familiar with your computer and the internet and know how to use them well, especially the website that your online course is on. Go on a virtual tour of your course so you know everything you need and where to click.
As for your computer, it would be wise to know how to manage your wifi settings. And little things like bookmarking your course website on your internet browser will make it just a little easier for you every time you start your study session. Sometimes it’s the little things that make a big impact!
Use software and apps to help you succeed. Depending on your cell phone, you can use Siri, Alexa, or Google as your virtual assistants. Ask them to remind you about a task or to send an email.
Business Insider has a list of very useful apps for students, ranging from topics like scheduling, studying and homework, and social life. Remember, technology is on your side! There are countless apps available to make your life easier. So why not try some out? You can always delete them if you’re not a fan.
We all know that moment when you’re about to click “submit” and your internet connection cuts out. We know how frustrating slow or choppy internet can be. So make sure you have a back-up plan if your internet access doesn’t connect. You can use your phone as a personal hotspot for those times when wifi isn’t working. It’s always smart to have a plan B.
7. Get into a routine
“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.”
-John C. Maxwell
(Author, speaker, & pastor. Known for his work on leadership, his books are on the New York Times Best Seller List)
While time management is important to keep you on track, it’s also essential to have a routine. Having a routine makes it easier for you to stick to your responsibilities and succeed. Routines also mean that you know what to expect every day. Knowing that you have X amount of time at X:00 makes it easier to plan your day.
And remember, the beginnings are the hardest part. What may seem awkward or strange at first will eventually become second nature. Your new routine will become a new normal and you’ll find yourself getting more stuff done.
8. Ask questions
Forget what people may have told you — there are no stupid questions! Don’t be afraid to ask your fellow classmates or your instructors about your coursework. Or even your friends and family. You’d be surprised how many people are willing and happy to help you. You won’t know if you don’t ask!