How to Totally Crush Your Online Classes

Ever since VCU decided to switch to online classes due to COVID-19, I’ve been struggling to adapt to the idea of learning from my house. On March 18, 2020, we received an email from VCU President Michael Rao announcing that all VCU classes will stay online for the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester, which means that it is going to be crucial for us students to stay on top of our online lectures, assignments and exams. This will be a difficult task, but I believe I’ve found five ways to help all of us succeed in our online classes this semester! 

  1. 1. Don't Take it Easy

    The worst thing we can do is take it easy and think that we don’t need to work as hard since our classes are online now. It can be easy to think that since we don’t need to physically go to class that our classes aren’t “real.” However, that attitude could be the difference between succeeding and failing in your online classes. It’s important to stay motivated and keep working hard so that we can stay in the study mode.

  2. 2. Create a Schedule and Stick to it

    I’ve been using a planner since middle school, but now with all our online classes, I’ve realized I need more than a list of what to do every day. Instead, I need to make a weekly schedule and actually stick to it. Before switching to online classes, we all had schedules to follow even if we weren’t actively thinking about it every moment. We would go to classes, TA sessions, club meetings, and hang out with people at certain times during the day which meant that we had more of a rhythm going in college. Now that online classes have taken these things away from us, many of us are struggling with staying on top of our work. I’ve found it helpful to make a general schedule for a daily routine in order to help stay in control of my schoolwork. Routine can also improve mental health, reduce stress, and help us form healthy lifestyle habits!  

    For example, I’ve decided to follow the following daily routine Monday through Friday: Get out of bed by 10 AM, update my planner based on blackboard posts, eat an early lunch, work on online assignments until around 3 PM, watch Netflix, walk my dog, eat dinner, and Facetime friends until it’s time for bed. Obviously some days I slip up and end up watching Netflix all day, but in general, I’ve been trying to stick to this plan with the hopes that maintaining a daily routine will help me maintain the same level of discipline I practiced when I stayed on campus. 

  3. 3. Find a Study Spot (That is Not Your Bed)

    Whenever I had to get any work done I made it a point to go to the library and find a nice quiet spot to work. Unfortunately, this is no longer possible. I’ve been finding it difficult to work efficiently in my home because I associate it too much with comfort and relaxation. I tried working from my bed for a few days but I found myself taking way longer than normal to do things that would normally take me no time at all.

    According to the Harvard Business Review’s Guide to Being More Productive, “unless you are careful to maintain boundaries, you may start to feel like you’re always at work and losing a place to come home to.” This means that we should all be making sure to keep our study place separate from where we sleep or relax. unfortunately, since we are all supposed to be practicing social isolation, I can’t go to a public library or workspace. However, I’ve recently moved all my work into my basement and set up a study area there. This way, whenever I have to work I go downstairs, but the rest of my house is still associated with being relaxing. 

  4. 4. Don't Hesitate to Reach Out to Professors

    I know we can all feel intimidated to reach out to professors with questions, but with online classes, we should not hesitate to get help in clarifying our doubts in a class. Professors are there to help us learn, and even if it doesn’t always feel like it, they definitely want to see us succeed in their classes! If the question can be solved by simply googling, then maybe that could be your first step. However, it is important that we make sure to email our professors without hesitation, especially if your peers and Google are both unable to help you! 

  5. 5. Eliminate Distractions 

    Woman sitting in front of computer

    I definitely feel hypocritical writing this, but it is really important that we eliminate distractions. The science is clear, folks⁠—multitasking doesn’t work! When we’re doing more than one thing at a time, our abilities to complete both tasks are compromised. Therefore, divided attention is definitely not the move when we’re taking challenging college courses online. Therefore, we should try to limit distractions such as Netflix, Instagram, and YouTube, while we’re working on our online courses.

All in all, I hope this article has given you all a few ways to tackle your online classes. It might be challenging to stay on top of things at first, but I’m sure that with diligence and hard work, we can all succeed this semester! Monica and Rachel high-fiving