3 Tricks Getting Me Through Online Classes

At this point, all NC State students are online, but I’d like to pose myself as a trendsetter: I began this semester from the beginning online, all from my high-school bedroom in Apex, North Carolina. Online school was no doubt a huge adjustment for most students around mid-March, and I want to share my tips for success in these strange times. 

  1. 1. My Week-At-A-Glance

    notes pinned to a board

    This semester, I’m taking 5 classes, 3 of which are not at NC State, and are instead of through a community college. Because only one of my classes actually sees each other via Zoom, I had trouble remembering what to do that week without searching through a syllabus, online class page, or ask a classmate. My solution to this was a sticky note for each class, to be updated weekly. Here’s a picture of my current set up!


    As you can see, each class has a spot for their sticky note, and the week number too, which is helpful for studying with two different colleges. It’s not glamorous by any means, but knowing exactly what needs to be done for each week and crossing off tasks has helped immensely. I update it each week from my printed out syllabi and check off as I go, and put a big, satisfying checkmark in the corner when I’m done with the work for that class for the week. This setup is right in front of my typical work station in my bedroom, so I always know what I need to be doing. 

  2. 2. Scrap the “To-Do” mindset

    For the longest time, I have created to-do lists for myself with tasks I want to accomplish for myself in one day. However, I was encountering the problem of feeling terrible at the end of my day with only 2 or 3 things checked off of my 10 item to-do list, so I renamed my list “goals” and also started a separate list of daily “accomplishments.” Now, an unfinished goal is simply left for tomorrow and less of something that I “didn’t do” today. And an accomplishment can be anything, from a non-academic task like doing laundry and making breakfast to something school-related, like studying for an exam. This system has fundamentally changed how I look at my days and has not only helped me achieve more academic work but non-academic work as well

  3. 3. Pomodoro Technique

    If you have perused any online study community, which are quite prominent on Tumblr, you have no doubt heard of the Pomodoro technique: studying or working for 25 minutes on, and 5 minutes off, with a 15-30 minute break every 4 “Pomodoros.” This technique has SAVED me. Focusing for me can be pretty hard, but the knowledge of a break-even 20 minutes away keeps me going. And even if I can’t pay attention for all 25 minutes, after my break, I know I’ll be back into it. 


    There are plenty of online resources to help with the Pomodoro technique, like Marinara, an aptly named Chrome extension that will gently guide you through Pomodoro intervals, but my favorite has to be study-with-me YouTube videos. Most of them have an incredibly relaxing atmosphere, featuring another student working hard, a tidy bedroom or office, music, and the occasional pet. For those of us who can’t go to a library or coffee shop this semester, study-with-me videos can create the same ambiance while staying socially distant and on task! My favorite is this 6 Pomodoro length video from TheStudyStrives, featuring slightly jazzy music and her cat.

The transition to a fully online format has been by no means easy for most college students, and although these tasks work for me, they might not for everyone. The past month has been a continuous cycle of trying new study and self-achievement techniques, and while I might have found the right fit, that’s not true for everyone. Do research on study techniques, talk to some friends about it, and if it all feels too much, take a break, breathe, and remember that you are more than your academics.