There is no doubt that this new semester looks different. With the COVID-19 pandemic, many students are working through online classes for the very first time. Being thrown into a new format is never easy. So, I thought I would share with you all of my tips and tricks to help you through your education, even during these challenging times.
First off, I want to point out that everyone is different when it comes to learning, and that is ok! Sometimes school comes more naturally to some people than it does to others, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Please do not think that your grades, extra-curricular activities, etc. define your worth. Going off of that, some majors are more difficult than others. For me, Public Relations is something that comes easily to me because it focuses more on the skills that I enjoy, rather than having to comprehend and apply complicated concepts. If you put me in a science class that involves a lot of test-taking, I would really have to push myself (science is not my subject!) Define your success through what you learn in the class as a whole, not what grade you receive.
You can be successful in anything through hard work, time management, and being kind to yourself. So, let’s get started
Read the syllabus!
Usually, on the first day of in-person classes, you will have what I call “syllabus day”. This is when professors go over the syllabus and expectations for their class. Since online classes are on your own time, professors may not make it a requirement for you to go through the syllabus. I know it is easy to want to skip this step, but I am telling you that it is essential for being prepared for the semester.
- Because it’s an online course this is the only way to get to know more about your professor. Having a better understanding of your professor will help you feel more comfortable when you need help.
- The syllabus gives you all the ways you can contact your professor, as well as when you can contact them.
- The syllabus contains grading policies, so you know what assignments are the biggest part of your grade.
- There is almost always a list of due dates for the entire semester. This can help you plan ahead.
Make a weekly assignments list.
If you know me, you know that making lists is my favorite thing to do (hence why this blog post is a list!) Every Sunday evening, I like to take a look at my classes and see what is assigned for the week. This allows me to mentally prepare and get organized, it also helps me get an idea of how much free time I will have.
Just by spending 20 minutes or so going through each class and writing down every single thing that is assigned can help prevent missing smaller assignments such as discussion posts. Your list can also serve as a checklist throughout the week to help guide you.
Make a monthly assignments list.
Similar to the weekly assignments, a monthly assignment can help you prepare for big projects, papers, and exams. We have all been there when you check your assignments for the week, and that huge project you’ve put off for weeks is finally due, along with an exam, a paper, and several quizzes. Making a monthly assignment list can help you prepare for the month as a whole, especially if you are involved in things outside of your classes.
As someone who is heavily involved, having an overview of my month helps me balance meetings, work, and other extra-curricular activities. If I happen to see that a week is going to be really busy one week, it gives me enough time to get excused from any obligations.
Set aside time for each class.
Online classes are convenient because you can work on them on your own time, but when you are balancing more than one, it can be easy to put them off until the end of the week. To avoid scrambling to get all of your work done before Sunday at midnight, treat each online class like it has a set class time.
Creating a class schedule helps you spread out the work throughout the week. Of course, your schedule doesn’t have to be down to the minute, but having an idea of when you want to work on things will help you stay on track. I personally have my “school time” between 2 pm and 5 pm Mondays through Thursdays. During this time I focus on my work and try to avoid my phone. Each day I work on different courses, so I can focus on one class at a time. Implementing a class schedule for yourself may be hard at first, but just like all schedules, it will get easier with time!
Email professors when you need guidance.
From my experience, online professors are almost always willing to help in any way they can, as long as you reach out to them. Throughout my entire high school career, I HATED emailing teachers and asking questions. I found it awkward, and I hated letting teachers know that I was struggling, so I never reached out for help.
With college, I am the complete opposite. Why? Because I am spending thousands of dollars on my future career, and I want to make the most out of it. As awkward as it is to email a professor, I would rather make sure that I am completely understanding the material. Especially with online classes, professors have no idea that students are struggling. It is up to you to email them if you need help!
With COVID, my professors have been even more willing to help students who are struggling in the online environment. Be honest with your professors if you are not doing your best work due to this crazy situation we are all in.
Take notes as if it were an in-person class.
You may think that since your teacher isn’t watching you, that you can just skip over the lectures and just do the assignments. If your online class uses powerpoints or videos, be sure to take detailed notes as if you were in a normal in-person class.
I typically like going through and outlining the most important topics in each PowerPoint or video. I find that writing my notes out on paper is best for me, but I have friends who prefer typing them out. Be sure to do whatever works best for you!
Remind yourself why you are in school.
Whenever I run out of motivation, I have to remind myself why I am doing something. We all have a reason why we are studying in school, or else we wouldn’t be spending thousands of dollars and putting in countless hours of work. Reminding yourself of why you are doing something helps you visualize your goals, and makes you more willing to work towards them.
For me, I have big dreams of doing Public Relations for Disney. My dream job within the company is not an easy one to come by, which is why my dream has been a big part of my motivation throughout college. So, when you are stuck finding the motivation to do your schoolwork, think of your dream. Is putting off your schoolwork going to help you achieve that dream?
Don’t psych yourself out!
Online classes are just like normal classes. You are still doing lectures, you are still reading the chapters, you are still putting in the work. The only difference is that you are not physically in a classroom with other people. Remind yourself of that and don’t psych yourself out!
So many of my friends have told me, “I just can’t do online classes,” and have used that as an excuse to not do their best work. When you continue to tell yourself that you can’t do something, it makes it harder for you to succeed. Start telling yourself that you can, because you can do online classes! It may not be the easiest way for you to learn, but sometimes you need to put in a little more effort to overcome obstacles. You can do this.
I hope you all found these tips helpful, I am wishing you all a great semester! For more study tips, check out my post, 6 Tips to Conquer Finals During Quarantine.