If somebody would have told me that my first year of college would be almost fully online, I would have laughed. As a student who learns best in person, having classes on Zoom was difficult to adapt to. While this can be seen as a negative this year, there are many ways that online classes can add to our educational experience. In the following, we will discuss tips and tricks to have a successful semester online, despite inevitable challenges.
In order to be successful and balance school, work, and friends, you must begin with scheduling classes to your advantage. This is the foundation to a solid routine that will provide you with a sense of accomplishment and organization throughout the semester. So, what are the best ways to schedule your classes?
Tips for scheduling classes:
- Plan ahead. A few weeks before the scheduling portal opens, set up a meeting with your academic advisor to find out what courses are next for your degree. After discussing which ones you should take, write them down to use when scheduling.
- What is your ideal daily routine? Do some brainstorming and come up with a few daily schedules that would fit your preferred lifestyle, as this will be important to the success of your semester. Figure out when you would ideally like to have classes, hang out with friends, eat meals, etc.
- Are you comfortable and ready for a fully online class schedule? If not, try to plan for a few in-person classes. On the other hand, if you are not opposed to a fully online schedule, keep that in mind when you are scheduling.
- Be ready! Once the scheduling portal is open, hurry and log on as early as you can. Courses fill up quickly, especially if it is limited capacity or in high demand. By preparing to log on early, you have more options for professors, course times, and locations to choose from.
So you’ve completed your schedule, now what? How do you stay successful and organized throughout the year? One of the most common student concerns for success in classes is how to study effectively. There are many ways to approach this depending on how you learn best and your usual routine. For example, if you feel best relaxing at home while studying, you may have different preferences than somebody who feels best studying with friends in a coffee shop. The best way to find out where and how you are most successful in your classes is to try a few options!
Examples of study situations to test out:
- Sit alone at a café with some headphones on, music or no music (remember to wear a face covering).
- Hold a study session with some peers for an hour or two in a common area (HRE residents only if in an on-campus apartment or residence hall).
- Go to a library to study for 30 minutes. Try a table, a booth, or a couch to get a good idea of which one feels best.
- Go to office hours and study one-on-one or in small groups with the professor.
- Try studying in a comfortable spot at home, and if you’d like, get snacks too!
By studying in many different situations, you can gain a broad perspective of what works best with your learning style. This can be helpful when you need to prepare for an exam or project, as well as maximize your studying potential.
So far, we’ve discussed that to be successful in an online learning environment, you should prepare your courses according to your ideal schedule and find the most productive study situation. Another significant tip to cover is the importance of listening to your body. Often, students are so focused on work and doing well in their classes, which distracts from healthy habits and well-being. When you ignore signs such as hunger, fatigue, and restlessness, the body is less likely to allow you to focus on work.
Tips for maintaining healthy habits and well-being:
- Plan 30 minutes or more of exercise for at least three days during your week. This ensures that you will have time to practice healthy habits while completing other responsibilities.
- Find time to hang out with friends and family. Even if it’s just a weekend or two each month, spending time with loved ones is crucial to your well-being (remotely, or wearing face coverings and physically distancing, of course).
- Allow yourself to take a mental break when you aren’t feeling great! Especially during online classes, it’s easy to feel exhausted and overwhelmed. By taking a break, you are allowing your brain to breathe and gain energy for when it’s time to study.
- Try to eat healthy when you can. Healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains will give your body the energy it needs to push through projects and long study hours. Plus, it can be fun trying new recipes.
In a crazy year of unexpected challenges, we are presented with an unusual learning experience. Though there are many opportunities to fall behind and get lost in the chaos, there are so many opportunities to learn a new perspective for success. As we’ve discussed above, we can practice tactics for a successful education that also add to individual well-being. There is always potential to turn around a difficult situation, especially with the help from our friends and colleagues.