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How to Succeed in Online College Classes

The switch from traditional, in-person class to remote online learning made for a difficult (and strange!) transition in the middle of the spring 2020 semester. I personally don’t like online class at all and felt really discouraged at first. Like everyone else, I had to adjust and learn how to be successful with the new format.  Now my summer classes are also online (no surprise there), but thankfully, I’ve already learned how to manage online classes and what works for me. If you’re currently taking online classes too, here are a few tips that I’ve found helpful:

1. Set an Alarm

 I know this probably sounds so unappealing; but trust me – it works! Even though I usually wake up before 7 on my own (crazy, I know), I still set my alarm. For whatever reason, waking up to an alarm makes me feel like I have important things to do and a reason to get up and get going. I also just love to start my day early (which means I’m done earlier too!). 

2. Use a Planner

I have always lived by my planner, but it became even more crucial when classes went online. For one, it helps me know what day of the week it is because quarantine has made that such a challenge (lol). I used to use Passion Planner, which is great, but this year I switched to Day Designer and LOVE IT. I use it to track all my school work: I note due dates, highlight test days, and schedule my studying. I start by writing everything in the monthly layout and then schedule my weeks in more detail.

3. Schedule Your Work Each Week

At the beginning of each week, I will write down all the assignments for that week. Then, I write a to-do list for each day and block out certain times of the day to focus on specific work, which helps me stay on track with assignments.  If a task doesn’t get done one day, it goes to the top of my list for the next day. This also works for studying: I’ll schedule a couple chapters or topics to study each day leading up to the exam. This system really helps me stay on track on not become too overwhelmed with all the things! 

4. Establish a Daily Routine

Online class usually means it’s up to you to structure your day, which can be good and bad. It’s good because it allows for flexibility to work at a time that’s convenient for you, but it can be hard because it’s on you to stay disciplined to do your work on time. Structuring your day and turning it into a routine is the good way to manage this! Here’s what my day usually looks like:

  • 6:30 – 7:30am: wake up, drink coffee, do my devotional
  • 7:45-9ish: go for a run or workout and shower 
  • 9-9:30: get ready for the day
  • 9:30-10: eat breakfast and plan out my work for the day 
  • 10-12pm: do my school work
  • 12-12:45 : lunch break!
  • 12:45-4ish: finish up my school work for the day
  • then the rest of the day is time for me!

5. Eliminate Distractions (aka - put away your phone!!!)

The hardest part about online class is staying motivated and disciplined to do your work. I’ve found that if I completely shut off my phone (or even leave it in another room), I’m 10x more focused and productive. I’m able to finish my work for the day much quicker, which feels so nice! 

6. Take Breaks

Sitting at a desk for hours working remotely by yourself is so exhausting. I really miss visiting with my classmates before and after class! Independent work is not enjoyable (at least for me haha)! To stay motivated, I’m sure to give myself  breaks when I need it. I’ll get up and walk around, stretch, call a friend, or even watch a short show if I have the time.

7. Switch between Classes

Switching between gears and working on another class is a good way to break up the day and stay engaged. If I feel I’m getting burned out, I’ll put away my work for that class and work on another. Changing it up can be refreshing! 

8. Reward yourself!

After a long day of online class, be sure to reward yourself with some “me time”! I usually end my days reading a book, watching a show, or drafting a blog post. Saving this for the end of the day helps me stay motivate to finish my class work! 

Even though I really dislike taking classes online, these tips and tricks were really helpful for me during the spring, and now I’m reverting back to them to knock out the summer semester.  This fall, the majority of my classes are either online or a hybrid (meaning I only go to class once a week and do work online or on my own during the week). I’m sure many college students are facing the same challenge, so I hope these tips are helpful! 

much love, 

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