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5 Tips For Staying on Top of Online Classes

I’m a firm believer in starting things off on the right foot to be successful, and school is no exception. As an ex-PaCE student, I’m on semester #5 of having online classes, and though the process has gotten easier, the learning curve was the biggest obstacle. After almost a year of living through a pandemic, the learning curve for most students has passed; however, I still find the beginning of the semester the hardest in getting organized for school. Below are my tips for staying on top of online school despite the hardships that have been thrown our way as college students. 

Eliminate distractions

Anything goes in a Zoom meeting. With no one behind your screen to watch what you’re doing, it’s easy to browse your computer while having your camera on or go on your phone and make it seem like you’re still present in class. I have the tendency to want to clean up my Safari tabs during class, go through emails and answer text messages during class, but there’s a time and a place for that. Not only will being present in your Zoom classes give you a sense of self-control, but there’s no better time to designate to learning than in class. This will save you the time afterward of trying to remember your professor’s lectures while studying for exams, and being actively participative in class will build a relationship with your professor, which is important for having getting a letter of recommendation when applying to internships! If this isn’t enough, there are apps like “Self-Control” and “StayFocusd” that will block websites temporarily, which will boost your productivity when getting assignments done or studying.

Write down all your deadlines

Starting multiple classes at the same time leaves room for mistakes and missing deadlines, especially in an online setting where it’s easy to lose track of where assignments are located and the correct time to submit them by. Organizing deadlines, whether it be in a calendar, a planner, or a website like Trello, can help you mentally prepare for the amount of work you have to put in each week. Some weeks will have a heavier workload than others, especially around exams, but it helps you better plan out when you can afford to relax more one week and when you have to dedicate more time to school. My biggest tip for this is to write down the time each assignment is due and the location of where to submit it. This will save you a lot of time, especially when scrambling to turn in assignments on the day they’re due.

Google Calendar your week

Writing down yourmy deadlines is just the first step in getting organizeding yourself. Google Calendar is a great way to visualize your classes, extracurriculars and events unrelated to school in one place. Not only can you customize with the colors to of your liking, but Google Calendar has features like to-do lists, notes and maps that’ll advance your organization. As someone who is just as busy as I am forgetful, having my meeting times and to-do lists in one place helps me keep track of my week. At the start of each semester, I schedule classes,  and extracurricular times, exams dates, and work and other dates that are unlikely to change, and at the start of each week, I write in any events that aren’t typical for me, study time and self-care time. Though scheduling when you’re going to study and when you’ll take time for yourself seems mundane, I find it helps me keep myself on top of school and on top of myself.

Hold yourself accountable

There are times when you can be more flexible, and times where you have to just sit down and put in the work. Without structure in an online world, it’s easy to put things off until at the last minute, and even easier to sleep in and worry about school later in the day.  Holding yourself accountable comes in different forms, such as like having an accountability partner like a friend, making sure you complete your to-do list or making yourself wake up early. Regardless, it can make all the difference. Making yourself a routine or structure to follow throughout the week can feel personal to you and allows you to feel independent by working on your own time and no one else’s. This is an important life skill that’ll carry on after college, which is why preparing yourself for the future starting now will help you in the long run!

Take breaks

Zoom fatigue is no joke. Staring at a computer for hours on end can feel taxing on the brain. On days where I have a heavier to-do list than on others, I try to switch between working online and being away from the computer. One way I can accomplish this by is running errands between Zooms, cooking myself a meal in the meantime or getting outside between Zooms. Although taking breaks may make you feel like you’re falling behind, it’ll only make you more motivated and productive when it’s time to get back to work. Engaging in healthy habits will do great things for your psyche and for your grades.

Though it seems like being online will last forever, we’ve already seen steps taken to get students back into the classroom. In our “new normal,” I see online school in our future permanently. With technology being a major force in innovation, there will only be more advancements in education using technology. With that, being able to adapt to online school is important for helping you figure out your personal learning style and helps you diversify the ways in which you take in information. See you on Zoom!

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