How To Take Online College Classes (Tips And Strategies)

male student sitting a a desk with a laptop taking online college classes

Online college classes are becoming extremely popular. They offer an array of different formats; synchronous, asynchronous, and hybrid. Since they are flexible, they are favorable to almost everyone’s schedule. The combination of in-person and online classes is an excellent strategy for any academic career. Blended, the classes will create an efficient academic schedule and keep you on track to graduate in a timely manner.

Online college classes can be a little tricky. Learning virtually from home has its challenges. But there are tips and strategies to help you successfully navigate online courses.  

Hold Yourself Accountable

Accountability and self-discipline are primary skills students need to take an online course. If you don’t hold yourself accountable it’s easy to fall behind. Hence, set goals at the beginning of the semester and stay committed. Students must discipline themselves to complete readings, study material, and assignments. When attending in-person classes students are often reminded of upcoming assignments or tests, and the professors are available for help throughout the course. This is not the case with online classes, you must know your role and your responsibilities and be accountable for them. This is where accountability is important.

Login To Your Class Regularly

Log in to your class on the first day. This may sound obvious, but many students put this off simply because they can. It’s important to log in and check out the syllabus. Many professors will have a quiz on the syllabus, they want to know that not only have you logged in, but you’ve read the course outline. A syllabus is your course contract. It will outline all the essential information about the class and what will be expected of you.

If the professor doesn’t require it, introduce yourself on the discussion board. This is how you will meet your classmates. It’s important that you get to know them, studies show that students have a higher success rate in classes when they work together.

Be sure to log in to your classes as often as you can. Set a goal to check in on weekly assignments, quizzes, and class discussion threads. There may be new grades, posts, emails, or material that need your attention.

Actively Participate In Your Online Classes

Participation helps a student better understand course material, think critically, and increase comprehension through collaboration. Unfortunately, often in virtual classrooms, students tend to become just observers because it’s hard to interact. It’s important to engage in active learning.

Participation is easier in a synchronous class as they operate in real-time, but participation can still be achieved in asynchronous classes too. Get involved by commenting on a classmate’s post on the discussion board or post a question about an assignment you’re working on. Read what other students and your professor are posting in discussion threads, make observations and if you have questions, ask for clarification.

Get To Know Your Professor

This isn’t going to be as easy, in most cases, you never meet your professors for online classes. However, it’s very important to connect with your professor. College Professors are valuable resources who are often underutilized. Your goal is to stand out in class, not just be a faceless name and a grade like dozens of other students.

Introduce yourself via email. Include a few small personal details and explain why you’re taking the class and if you have any questions about the course. The introduction will automatically give them something other than just your name to think about, this is how you will stand out.

Connect With Fellow Classmates

As mentioned above connecting with your peers is extremely beneficial. Not only will you feel more connected with the class and your college the friendships you create will provide academic motivation and support. Additionally, you will have someone to study with, check-in with, team up on assignments, and de-stress with.

With Online Classes You Must Practice Time Management

The flexibility to create your own schedule is often one of the biggest appeals of taking online college classes. But that flexibility can be disadvantageous if you don’t have good time management skills. Without them, you might easily find yourself falling behind and even failing. Studies have found students who have control of their time tend to get higher grades.

Time management is the practice of organizing tasks, managing deadlines, and coordinating downtime. It is important to practice efficient time management to get the most out of your day and reduce stress. Learning to manage the way you use your time is a life skill that will not only help you in college but even after you graduate.

Here are a few simple time management tips to ensure that you are prepared for your online class.

  • Create a schedule. Figure out which assignments you need to complete first, and which tasks can wait. Schedule a time when you will study, work on assignments, and prepare for exams. Try and stick to your schedule and adapt it if necessary. Not everything can be set in stone, life does happen.
  • Get organized. Create a calendar. It can be a physical or a digital calendar like Google, iPhone, or Microsoft Outlook. Once you’ve chosen your calendar start filling it in. Note when you have classes, and when assignments, projects, and tests are due. Include midterms, finals, holidays, and breaks. Add other scheduled commitments like work, internships, meetings, and other extra-curricular activities. Be sure to look at your calendar daily because it’s what will keep you on track.
  • Exercise. Eat well. Get plenty of sleep. They are known as the 3 pillars of health for a reason. It is through them you will have the energy and focus to get through your studies. They can also help reduce the negative effects of stress and improve your emotional well-being. Take the time to work out, fix a nutritious meal, and go to bed early.

Eliminate Distractions

Online students have many distractions that can easily disrupt their studies. It can be hard to focus when you are surrounded by the comforts of your home. It’s easy to walk into the kitchen to get a snack, lie down on your bed to rest, or even turn on the television. Finding time to study without distractions can be a challenge but it is a must.

a person holding a black cell phone, reading how to take online college classes

One of the biggest distractions we all have is our phones. It’s easy to lose focus every time we get a text message or a notification. Put your phone on silent or airplane mode. Resist the urge to surf the web, check social media, or your email because it will steal your time.

Also, try and create a study space that doesn’t have household distractions. It may help to wear headphones to cancel out noise. Soft music might help you focus on schoolwork it could also be the perfect background noise. If you work better outside of your home and you live close to campus, utilize the library or other student resources. Maybe a coffee shop that offers Wi-Fi might be a good option. It’s important to not let those around you distract you. Therefore, if someone starts up a conversation, don’t be afraid to politely tell them you must study and can’t talk.

Motivation Is Essential For Online Classes

Motivation is a crucial element to success. Don’t forget why you are taking the class. Focus on earning good grades. Think about graduating and receiving your degree. Imagine starting a new career that has a good-paying and secure job. Picture the lifestyle you will have. That is the motivation to stay focused and committed to your classes.

Now that you know the tips for taking online college classes, I encourage you to go take one. It might be a great way to add in an extra class.