How To Make The Most Out of Your Online Classes

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Hi, I'm Tanya!

Many of you are trying to adjust to the new normal as a student. Because of the pandemic, most schools have transitioned to online classes. In contrast, some have a mixture of online and in-person depending on the state or country you live in.

Attending online classes is completely different from attending in-person classes. I prefer in-person classes because I feel like I learn better versus online. My last semester of school this year got switched to online when the pandemic first started, and my attention span in class was nonexistent some days. I found myself falling asleep on zoom because I was still in bed, or I was in my kitchen making me a meal or watching tv. Now, me saying this is not encouraging you to do what I did. I’ve gotten some emails and DMs from students asking me for tips on passing their online. Classes. I decided to do a post because I may be of help to someone out there.

Online classes have been an option before the pandemic. Still, like me, most people chose in person, or in most cases, it was usually one or two classes. They were not classes that were overly demanding as others, so the transition to having every class online can be overwhelming. Can you imagine having to do your Organic Chemistry lab online?! Suppose this is your first experience outside the physical classroom. In that case, I’m sharing some tips that will help you overcome online classes’ challenges. These will benefit you and help you to have a successful semester.

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Tip #1 – Get Familiar with your school’s online portal

As we know, every college has its own uniquely designed Learning Management System. This is where you get your grades and also see your different classes for the semester. You must familiarize yourself with this virtual portal in advance to avoid not knowing what to do, not when classes start. Make sure everything is good with your login information and also that your internet connection is functioning.

Tip #2 – Prepare for Your Virtual Classroom

Preparing for virtual classes will be somewhat different than preparing for an in-person class. You will still need to get school supplies and do everything else you usually do when it comes to school. However, with online classes, be sure that you have a good computer and a wired, high-speed internet connection. Yes, this is something you should if you had in-person classes. Still, with most people working at home, chances are you may not be the only person using the internet at home. To avoid having things move slower, ensure your internet connection is strong and can handle the different devices being used all at the same time. Get and install all the necessary software that your school recommends.
Last but not least, review the course materials just as you would in a traditional classroom. This is key; I can’t stress this enough. Read your syllabus; this is your class bible!

Tip #3 – Find A Study Space

I decided to put this one as a tip because I remember when I transitioned from in-person to online class earlier this year when the pandemic first started. Let me just say; I was not the most productive student. It’s easy to carry your laptop around and listen to lectures from anywhere in your house. But guys, this is not the greatest good idea. It’s hard to stay focused when other family members are walking around or talking. In my case, I was cooking, watching TV, and not paying attention in class. Please don’t be like me.

I’m not saying you need to recreate a classroom at home, but please find a space, if possible, where you’ll be able to focus and study. Again do not put the tv on or find other things to do other than your work. I can attest that having a dedicated study space will help you stay more focused. This same space will also help you disconnect from school work when you’re done studying. I am all about taking breaks in between; no one is meant to study nonstop.

Tip #4 – Try To Minimize Distractions

I know being distracted can be out of our hands; it sometimes depends on our environment. As I mentioned above, having a space dedicated to studying, and getting your assignments done is essential. It can minimize distractions from being at home. My attention span while I had online classes was like a two year old- somewhat nonexistent lol. Something as simple as email and text or WhatsApp message notifications on your computer and phone are distractions. I know I couldn’t focus on my lecture because I was constantly checking for messages and updates. Turn your notifications off during class time, or if for some reason, you are unable to do so, at least try to minimize how often you check your notifications. You can use other apps that will block you from certain apps during a particular time (I’ll do a post about this). It is also vital that you let your friends and family know your class schedule so that they won’t disturb you unless there’s an emergency.

Tip #5 – Take Notes During Class

I know most professors provide the PowerPoint for the lecture, and you may think you don’t need to take notes, but that’s not true. Taking notes in class is beneficial for students. This helps you to retain the information from studying and have a clearer understanding of the material. Do yourself a favor and TAKE NOTES!

Tip #6 – Participate in Classroom Activities and Group Discussions

Although you may not be face to face with your professor and classmates, you should still participate in classroom discussions. Since classes are online, you may be required to post to a discussion board and reply to one or two classmates about the required topic. There will still be group work, believe it or not ( I know, you don’t like group work, lol). Having classes online is not an excuse for you not to participate during class time. Your professor may not be able to see you physically, but they can still call on you during class, so be prepared to participate in class. That five or ten percent participation grade will still come in clutch at the end of the semester.

Tip #7 – Check Your Email Regularly

With online classes, checking your email regularly is vital. This is how your professors will get in contact with you. They may send you emails to notify you about changes to assignment due dates, new test guidelines, and other notifications. These are not emails you can read several days later, or you may miss some important updates or deadlines. I know I said minimize checking your email while in class. I’m not saying to check your mail every hour but do make it a habit to check at least two or three times a day.

Tip #8 – Ask for Help

Do not hesitate to ask your professor for help if you don’t understand something or need some clarification; this is what they are there for. This is why you are paying tuition. You probably think you won’t be able to do this, but there are many ways you can ask for help. You can email your professor with your question or request an appointment to chat with them virtually to clarify your doubts. This is why it is essential to read your syllabus. That way, you will know your professor’s office hours. Professors are always more than willing to help, but they won’t know you need help unless you ask.

Online classes may seem overwhelming at first. If you’re like me, you may miss sitting in a classroom and listening to lectures in-person with your classmates. But know that this is not permanent, well at least I hope. We have to get rid of this pandemic (wear your mask and social distance). I know there are many challenges with online classes but don’t let it get you down. Meanwhile, find healthy ways to cope with the current situation and focus on making the most of your online classes. I will upload another blog post about how to find ways to cope with taking online classes.

That’s all for now, folks! I hope this post was helpful. Comment below if it was useful for you.

There’s still time to have a successful semester. I wish you all the best with your online classes!

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