5 Tips to Succeed in Online Classes

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School's tough enough as it is, but distance learning presents a whole new challenge. Many students struggle to focus on their coursework when learning from home, as online courses call for self-discipline and time management skills. Keep up with your online schoolwork with these tips for success:

1. Motivate Yourself

Think about how traditional classroom settings motivate students to get their work done: due dates written on a whiteboard at the front of the room, friendly reminders and suggestions from teachers, group study sessions with peers. Replicate these methods of motivation in your own home. Write down your due dates and study schedule in a planner or calendar, email your teacher with any questions or concerns you might have and get in touch with your classmates over Zoom to study together and quiz each other.

2. Manage Your Time

Online learning is generally more flexible than traditional classroom courses, so it's important to create your own structure. Chronic procrastinators might struggle to get their online schoolwork done in full and on time, so if that's you, consider the following:

  • Read through your class syllabus and take notes of all exams, projects and due dates.
  • Make a schedule for yourself of weekly assignments and tests.
  • Organize your study materials so it's easy to find the assignments and information you need.
  • Keep regular schedules for sleeping, eating and exercise to help boost your routine.

If you need to, set reminders and alarms on your phone to maintain your schedule and make sure you finish your tasks in a timely manner.

3. Ask All the Questions

You're not the only one struggling with online learning, so don't be afraid to get in touch with your teacher and classmates with any and all questions you might have. Use email, virtual office hours, discussion boards and texting to bounce ideas off others and straighten out any subjects that might confuse you.

By that same token, keep in mind that your teacher and classmates might reach out to you with questions and comments, as well. Respond to their messages in a timely manner to maintain open lines of communication.

4. Find a Good Study Spot

Houses are full of distractions – especially if you're not particularly in the mood to study. Set yourself up for success by minimizing these distractions and creating an environment that's conducive to schoolwork. If possible, find a quiet place away from your housemates, family members and/or TV. Set your phone on "do not disturb" or airplane mode – or, better yet, leave it in another room – to avoid temptation from social media or online games.

Make sure you have a comfortable area to work in, where you can read or write comfortably for long periods of time. Consider keeping your space well-lit to avoid strain on the eyes, and perhaps invest in some blue light-filtering glasses if you'll be looking at a computer screen.

5. Use What You Have

One of the many benefits of online learning is access to endless internet resources, many of which might help you understand your studies even more thoroughly than you otherwise would have. Familiarize yourself with study resources and open education sites, and use them to supplement your studies and quiz yourself before exams. Online classes might require more self-discipline than classroom learning, but that hard work definitely pays off.

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About the Author

Brenna Swanston is a freelance writer, editor and journalist. She covers topics including environment, education and agriculture. She previously reported for the Sun newspaper in Santa Maria, Calif., and holds a bachelor's in journalism from California Polytechnic State University. Swanston is an avid traveler and loves jazz, yoga and craft beer.