How to Prepare for Online Classes – 10 Online College Tips to Help You Succeed

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Choosing to attend college online can lead to a lucrative and worthwhile future. An online degree can lead to a wider selection of career choices, valuable networking opportunities, as well as a developed skill set without ever leaving your home. In many cases, online degrees can provide a more affordable and flexible route toward education, with many of the same benefits as earning a degree in a traditional setting on campus. That being said, an online school can certainly provide its own unique set of challenges within a remote learning format, these setbacks can be easily overcome with enough dedication and passion to earn a degree. But how does one learn how to prepare for online classes in a way that will set them up for success if they’ve never tried online classes before?

In this article, we’ll explore some of the most successful tips for online school to help future students properly anticipate their future curriculum. With the proper preparation, anyone can receive a fulfilling and enriching education online with these ten helpful online schooling tips.

1. Create A Dedicated School Space

One of the biggest differences between attending school online rather than choosing in-person instruction is the setting. While collegiate classrooms inherently provide a quiet and contained environment for instruction, attending online school allows students to log in from anywhere to attend their classes. While this increased flexibility is often what draws students to attending school online in the first place, attending online classes can easily lend itself to getting sidetracked.

Our first tip for online school is to create a dedicated space for online classes to help you focus and pay attention to your studies. This space could be anywhere from an office in your home, a favorite spot in the kitchen, or even a nearby cafe that you know caters well to studying and quiet work. The main goal of the space is that it should allow you to mimic a physical classroom setting. Once chosen try to always attend online classes within this environment to ensure you’re always in the right headspace for learning. 

2. Eliminate Outside Distractions

When you’re attending classes at home, distractions are more present than ever. Especially for those with family members that may be popping in and out of the space. Along with the same idea of the first of our tips for online school, eliminating outside distractions is key to finding success and getting the most out of your online studies. 

If your online program features online lectures that can be listened to outside of traditional class hours, consider taking these courses during specific learning time blocks of the day that you know are less active and distracting. If this isn’t an option, choose a dedicated school space that is the least distracting as possible and consider investing in noise-canceling headphones if you find that your mind is continuing to waver from your studies. 

3. Connect Virtually With Fellow Students

Just because you’re attending classes online doesn’t mean that you miss out on classmates. Whether those classmates are in-person or virtual as well, these students are still taking a similar course, taught by the same instructor, learning and mastering the same concepts. Even in a fully digital capacity, taking advantage of the community of a course can be super helpful for understanding difficult concepts, gaining other perspectives on a subject, as well as creating valuable networking relationships down the line. In an age where distanced connections have never been more popular, online degree programs are a valuable place to find future colleagues. Take full advantage of community message boards, emails, and live instructions to help yourself connect with other classmates from afar. 

4. Create a Routine

One of the most underrated yet crucial of our tips for online school is to create a routine for your online classes. One of the best parts of online school is that it allows for an increased sense of flexibility in completing schoolwork and attending lectures. However, online students who struggle to establish a set routine can often find themselves overly distracted, less motivated, and disengaged from their studies. This doesn’t cater well to getting the most out of online education, so having a set routine is highly suggested. 

Each online student is different, and a routine that works for one student may be horrible for another. The most important part of creating a routine is having both a daily and weekly expectation of what needs to be accomplished that week. Once that has been figured out, create an idea of a daily schedule for your studies that you believe can be easily maintained long-term. Other elements of your day can be included within this schedule, but making sure each day is consistent is key to creating a routine that works.

5. Be Cognizant of Deadlines

When attending classes in person there is an individual whose entire job is reminding the class of upcoming deadlines. On the flip side, online students are automatically disengaged from those gentle reminders, so there is an increased demand for attention to these. Online students need to take more ownership of potential deadlines on the horizon to make sure that their work doesn’t go to waste by receiving lower scores solely due to missed deadlines. When first beginning an online class, make sure to review the syllabus to take note of all deadlines for that quarter or semester. If you’re someone that tends to forget dates easily, set calendar reminders to make sure nothing gets missed down the line. 

6. Take Advantage of Online Resources

With the increase of distanced learning and online college programs, there has been a welcomed increase in online resources available to those who take classes online. A successful online degree program will feature virtual study groups, online office hours that allow students to connect with professors virtually, and even virtual calendars and apps to help keep track of time spent in online classes. A common issue among online students is that they don’t take advantage of these resources and only scratch the surface of what online schools can truly offer them. When first beginning an online class or degree program, make sure to research what online resources are available for students so that you can get an enriching, worthwhile, and connected education in a distanced format. 

7. Be Aware of Overlapping Schedules

When taking classes online, it’s fairly common for those taking multiple classes to become overwhelmed with the various online schedules that are occuring. Professors don’t confer with their colleagues regarding these schedules or deadlines. Because of this, the next tip for online school is to understand how crucial it is to be aware of overlapping schedules and assignment due dates to stay on top of your online studies. 

As with any college student, in-person or otherwise, organizing these deadlines and events into one place allows the student to make sure nothing gets missed in the shuffle. Consider purchasing a physical planner or choosing a preferred virtual calendar that can be easily edited to keep track of overlapping schedules, upcoming deadlines, and special events. This makes remembering these important assignments much easier in the long run. 

8. Be Comfortable With Your Equipment

While it may go without saying, an online degree program requires confidence with certain equipment and virtual tools to go smoothly. Make sure that the laptop or computer that is being used for online classes is one that you’re familiar with to make sure you have the correct tools for a dedicated learning space. It’s also important to become familiarized with all online dashboards and virtual resources before beginning a program to make sure that you can locate new assignments, find past and live lectures, and can easily connect with classmates virtually. 

9. Take Notes During Lectures

It can be easily tempting to not take notes during online lectures because the student is mainly staring at a screen and not surrounded by anyone else who would encourage note-taking. While this might be the case, it’s still very important to take notes during online lectures to properly retain the information. Studies prove that the more notes a student takes the more information they will be able to recall later on. Plus, having access to physical notes can eliminate the time spent needlessly rewinding a lecture to remember one fact that might have been missed and can more easily help online students study for exams down the line. 

10. Act As If You Are In Person

Perhaps the most important of our tips for online school is that education will always be centered around the work you put into it. Online students will only get from their online schooling what they’re willing to put into it, whether that’s time spent on studies or connections made with other classmates. As a general rule, online students shouldn’t behave all too differently from in-person students when approaching their education. Present yourself as you truly act, interact with classmates the way you have when attending in-person class, and make sure to ask the professor questions if you’re ever confused. After all, both an online program and an in-person program ultimately result in the same conclusion: a degree. 

In Summary: Tips for Online School Success

Finding success within an online degree program is centered around the student’s commitment to their assignments, autonomy over their workload, and passion for their chosen field of study. While there are countless differences between online school and traditional brick-and-mortar instruction, many of our tips for online school can easily apply to any college student looking to get the most out of their studies. Knowing how to prepare for online classes can help future students gain confidence in their work, better connect with their online communities, and earn a degree that they know will lead to professional development within their careers. 

Ready to take the next step toward earning a degree online? Explore online colleges with reputable and enriching degree programs to choose the best online program for your professional needs today. 

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