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Tips for Taking Online Classes: How to Be a Successful Student

Posted by Jessica Stensrud Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020

Gone are the days where all college classes are in-person, in a classroom. Today, especially with the coronavirus pandemic, many classes are available to students online. The online education option is especially helpful to busy students who are juggling work, children and school and have a packed schedule. Remote learning is flexible, however, it can present challenges for a student who's more accustomed to a traditional classroom experience. 

The obvious benefits to online learning are the options to learn and study any place, any time while balancing home, family and work commitments. When you're prone to distractions, taking classes online can be difficult, but if you develop these crucial skills to learning online, you can make your academic life easier than ever, be the best online student and get the most out of your online course.

Nebraska Methodist College offers most courses online for the convenience of those with familial and work obligations. If you're a first-time online learner or you need to improve the way you study and prepare for remote learning, check out the advice below to address challenges and tackle all of your online courses.

An online student working with a laptop in her lap and headphones in her ears. To be a successful online learner, check in, stick to a schedule, and hold yourself accountable.


Set a designated study space.


Decide where you work best. Maybe you have a home office, a spacious kitchen table or you have a favorite, comfy chair in the living room. Make that your place where you know you can focus. If your study space isn't at home, that's ok too! Just be sure to choose a spot that's conducive to studying and learning.

By creating a regular study area, you're getting into a routine (which is part of the idea). Experiment in different spots at first to decide where you think you learn best. Don't forget headphones for listening, especially if it's in a shared space.

Make sure you have reliable internet! If your internet is slow, it might be time to upgrade. A lagging connection will make lectures and other videos hard to watch and keep up with. Have all of your essentials with you, such as the books you'll need, software and other materials. If you are a diligent note-taker, have those notebooks and pens at the ready.


But don't be afraid to vary it up!


It's great (and important) to have a favorite place to go for studying, but variety is also good for your brain. Consider a library, spot on campus or a beloved coffee shop for a change of scenery. This will get your creative juices flowing and get you in the mood for learning. Boost your productivity by taking breaks now and then (except for during a lecture, of course). Staying in one spot too long while cause you to get bored after a while. 

Decide what time of day you study and learn best. Of course, this will be determined by your work schedule as well as any other obligations. If you need to do your studying first thing in the morning, do that! If you're a night person, make sure to carve out some time after dinner. 


Remove all distractions.


If you have a pet or a roommate who you know will break your concentration, go to a quiet room and shut the door (or go to the library, a coffee shop, or a common area). It's so easy to be distracted by music, TV, chores that need to be done at home, and social media while attending classes online. Remove apps from your computer that you know will divert your attention. 

If you're not bothered by other people around you, a coffee shop or common area on campus might be ok for you to study and attend class. Maybe music actually helps you work. Know your habits and what distracts you. If you are able to multitask at home, don't worry about getting distracted by laundry, Netflix or needy pets. 



Hold yourself accountable.


You wouldn't skip an in-person class or walk in late. Treat your online class the same as a "real class." Log in to your online course at the time you're supposed to and pay attention to the course material and instructor as you would in a classroom. The beauty of online classes is the flexibility and freedom to go at your own pace but that can also be the downfall, depending on your learning style and motivation. Create goals every week and set reminders for assignments and tests so you can stay on task.

You can ask a fellow classmate, friend or significant other to help you stay accountable for your studies. Professors won't micro-manage you (there are lots of other students to keep track of), so be sure to stay organized and proactive even when life is crazy.


Check in to classes regularly.


Even when you're not "in class," it doesn't hurt to check in to be sure something important hasn't been posted. This will also get you in the habit of logging in regularly, instead of just at the beginning of the semester. You'll never feel out of the loop if you're on top of changes and checking up on everything.


Participate and engage in the online classroom.


Be an active learner! The best way to see if you're following along and you understand the course materials is to participate in the discussion board and talk to your fellow students. Check in often and read what classmates are saying to gain a new perspective. Don't be afraid to reach out to your instructor if you feel lost or you don't understand the course content, online lecture or an assignment.


Time management is your friend.


Most students today are working while they are full-time students. Some students are parents or have other dependents and personal commitments. Time is valuable, so setting aside time to study is crucial for student success. Carve out study time each day by using a planner or calendar. Keeping the same time every day isn't always realistic, so be sure to keep a schedule that works for you.

You can create a schedule by setting a time and reminders on your calendar or even on your phone. This will let you block out time to devote to studying and check in with yourself. Be sure to keep a note of major assignments, projects and tests.


If you want to make a difference in the lives of others, check out Nebraska Methodist College to further your education and start a life-changing career.

Topics: student life, wellness, preparing for college, online education, covid-19, resilience

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