Taking college classes online can be a real challenge. It takes diligence, organization, and a lot of self-discipline to stay on track and make sure that you don’t get behind in any of your studies. Here are some tips, based on my own experience with online college classes, to help you stay organized and on track when you don’t have a set classroom schedule.
Most online college classes require a book or 2 and then a syllabus that changes from time to time. You have deadlines in which to meet assignments and set dates you have to take tests for, and that’s about it. You can wait until the last minute to get any of your studies done in a lot of classes, and it’s too easy to just put off studies and focus on family and work life instead. Staying organized, however, is key to making sure you don’t miss important deadlines or assignments, or end up flying by the seat of your pants last minute.
First of all, utilize your college email account, and check it daily for updated syllabuses, messages from your instructors, and to make sure that you haven’t received any emails that didn’t get sent to your blackboard or other study guide account instead. Often, instructors just follow a syllabus on a website that’s associated with your textbooks for class (like my microeconomics and algebra courses), but you may have another class in which your instructor uses a college-based study board for discussions and assignments that you also have to check daily. Checking your email first is the best way to make sure you haven’t missed anything.
Print out your syllabus for each class, and have a notebook, folder, pencil, and text for each class you are taking online. Keep these things together more efficiently by having your notebook and folder be the same color for each class, and keep them all with the appropriate books. This way, you’re not looking for your math notebook that was accidentally tucked into your English book. If you must, label each notebook and folder in big letters so you can identify them.
Keep handy the phone numbers and email addresses of all your instructors in case you need to contact them, and keep your login information for each online class visible with your other items. Writing down your math login and password on the inside of your math notebook will help you when you are stumped as to how to login to your math tutorial website.
Do your class work at the same time every day, and try not to jump around from subject to subject. Finish one class requirement and then move onto the next. Jumping around only gets you confused as to what you have finished or haven’t even started yet. Get to jumbled and you may complete 2 weeks’ worth of math but completely forgotten about economics, particularly when there is not a daily syllabus you have to follow. It helps to start out with the more difficult subjects, and do the easiest last, as they are less time consuming.
Even if you know you have completed your weekly syllabus, go over it again. Often, your attendance is recorded when you go online, and your instructors may dock you class participation if you only visit certain websites or college discussion and assignment sites once a week. Check again, and make sure you have really completed all your work.
Don’t skip any part of the syllabus, no matter how mundane, and don’t jump ahead. If you’ve finished one weeks’ worth of work and you are ready to move on, make sure all your other classes are caught up as well before you zoom on in your studies.
Keep in mind that testing schedules are tentative. If you have completed required chapters and quizzes, you may be able to call the testing center and take your test(s) early. I can take all my economics tests right now if I want and just have the class over with. If you want to lessen your class load, keep in mind that you don’t have to take a full semester to finish an online course. You can breeze right through it and finish testing in some courses, but you need to make sure your instructor allows it and that it won’t keep you from your other classes.
Above all, relax. It’s too easy to get overwhelmed with online classes, but if you check online daily for assignments, know and keep in contact with your instructors, and keep up with your syllabus (it helps to mark off completed tasks as you do them), then you’ll do just fine, and learn to really enjoy online college classes, as I do.