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How Smart Students Survive Online Classes

Jessica Socheski

Studying Online

4 Keys to Success in the Virtual Classroom

Summer is here! And for many college students, that means hunkering down in front of their laptops to get a few credits out of the way online. Summer is a popular time to enroll in online classes because their flexibility allows you to still have some life while making up much needed units that will help you graduate.

But the typically compressed time frame of a summer course combined with the self-motivation that the online environment requires can prove overwhelming to some students. So before you start struggling with classes, here are some smart tips for students who don’t just want to survive their online courses but want to succeed.

1. Engage

In most quality online education, class sizes will be much smaller, perhaps as small as only 20 students. The small class sizes combine with the fact that you must make up for face to face class time to require a higher level of engagement from both students and professors.

Most online classrooms are based around a discussion board. Rather than playing the lone wolf, make sure that you are active in chatting with your professor and other students. This demonstrates commitment to the class and a better level of both effort and comprehension—two things that speak volumes to your “invisible” professor.

2. Work Ahead (or at least on time!)

In an online course, you can almost count on annoying technical difficulty. Whether it is your program freezing while taking a timed test or the computer deciding to arbitrarily reboot three minutes before your paper is due.

Perhaps the best strategy for these technical issues is to ensure that your technology at home matches all the course requirements. Next, try to stay on top of assignments. Not only is on time work impressive and better for your grades, but it helps prevent a technological issue from making your last minute assignment officially late.

3. Organize and Prioritize

Online classes are a little like home schooling. Students are required to learn the material through actually reading the textbook, reviewing slides and paying attention to any additional materials the instructor may post. This makes keeping track of deadlines and assignments a top priority. Study your syllabus even prior to the class’s start date and compose a daily plan of what homework and research should be completed.

Looking ahead to the due dates later in class will also help you to prioritize what projects need attention and when. Organizing helps to complete things on time and with success. Time management can be the difference between passing with flying colors and dropping or flunking the course.

4. Write Well

Writing skills are an integral part of an online course. This goes for papers as well as emails with your professor. Unless video calling is a part of your program, all interaction will happen via discussion board and email. It is critical that you communicate clearly and respectfully as this will be how you ask questions and make an impression of your teacher. Even if you are not in an English class, your writing skills will affect your success.

With these tips you can navigate your online course like a pro. Enjoy the freedom to study on your own time. Just be sure you do make time to study.

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