Tips for online classes


Courtesy of Pixabay user Alexandra_Koch

Due to covid-19, a lot of classes have switched to an online or hybrid format. These new online classes require incredible time management skills and willpower since we have to create our own schedules and build them around our asynchronous classes and homework.

Here are five tips for taking online classes:

  1. Set SMART goals. Since a lot of classes are online or hybrid, we have to do a lot of scheduling and goal setting on our own. SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time bound. Setting a broad, vague goal with no time limits that is too difficult to achieve will only make you feel unproductive despite how much work you actually get done. Set short term goals that can be completed in a day or week and set longer term goals that could take an entire session or semester. Also, try breaking bigger projects into smaller pieces. For example, if you have a big essay due at the end of the session, give yourself deadlines for when you would like to have the bibliography, outline, rough draft, etc. completed. This ensures that you are consistently working on smaller homework assignments and larger projects alike. It also allows you more time to visit the writing center for help!
  2. Set aside a dedicated space for studying and schoolwork. One of my biggest bad habits this semester is doing homework in my bed. This often results in two outcomes: 1. I fall asleep while I am doing my homework or 2. I have trouble falling asleep at night because my mind thinks that it is time to do homework. By setting aside a dedicated study space, such as your desk, dining room table, or favorite Adirondack chair in Red Square, you are letting your brain know that it is time to study and you are ready to take on the day.
  3. Figure out what works best for you. Are you a morning person? Get up early and use that time to study and take notes. More of a night owl? Get settled at your desk or dedicated study space after dinner to write out some discussion posts. Everyone thinks of time and how it should function differently, so do not be afraid to get creative and try different sleep schedules to see what works best for you. Also, consider what other preferences you might have. Are you better reading a textbook online or do you like having a tangible book? I really like having a physical copy of my syllabus so that I can cross off assignments as I complete them. I still printed out all of my syllabi, even for my online classes. Try different approaches and see what works best for you!
  4. Take breaks often. While taking online classes, it can be easy to realize that you’ve been sitting in front of a computer screen for hours. Get up, give your eyes a rest, and take a small break. Go outside, take a walk, and allow your mind to rest. We all deserve to “waste” time just for the sake of wasting it, and not all time has to be productive. However, if you have trouble justifying down time with yourself, it might be helpful to think of it in terms that these breaks will help you be more productive and ready to tackle the rest of your problems after you are more rested. Often times if we don’t take a break, our bodies will do it for us, and it won’t be in ways we like!
  5. Go easy on yourself. No one has had to do this before in the way that you have, and you are doing the best you can considering the circumstances! Living and learning amid a pandemic is difficult for all of us, and the typical stressors of college are multiplied because of this new reality. Remember that you are still human, and there are bound to be some errors along the way. Try to give yourself some grace during a difficult time and be sure to celebrate the mini victories.

Ciara | Fall 2020