With advanced technology and increased remote learning options, being an online student has become more common. Attending college online holds amazing opportunities for students to pursue higher education and get a degree from the comfort of their own home. Additionally, students who physically attend a college or university can take online courses throughout the summer or during the school year to earn additional credits in their degree program. High school juniors or seniors may also enroll in a college class or two to get a head start on earning their degree.
Whether you’re a full-time online student or you’re taking virtual classes sporadically, it can be difficult to stay focused when working outside a traditional classroom. Often, you may be completing schoolwork in an area where you typically watch TV or sleep. To avoid any concentration issues, here’s a list of tips for online college students to stay successful in their learning programs. Download the checklist for how to be a successful online college student at the end.
1. Keep a morning routine
When you’re completing your online program, you probably won’t have to leave your house, but it’s still important to keep a good morning routine. Start your day by setting an alarm, showering, and eating a good breakfast. You might also want to consider making your bed every morning, so you’re less tempted to crawl back in it. Strive to go about your day as usual to increase your motivation and creativity.
Although you won’t have to commute to classes, you don’t have to spend the entire day inside. You could grab a coffee from your favorite coffee shop or run a quick errand before you answer your first discussion board. Outdoor exercise is also a great way to stay in shape and break up the monotony of online coursework. Finally, you can try attending class outside if the weather is nice and your wifi functions accordingly. Whatever you decide to add to your daily schedule, following a routine can help you feel more accomplished after your online school day is over.
2. Have a study space
Having a dedicated study space is key for online learners. Although it may be comfy, your bed is probably not the most practical or productive place to complete assignments. Before you choose a place to study for your online classes, it might be beneficial to figure out your learning style. Once you’ve established how you learn best, you can better accommodate an environment for your study sessions.
It’s not necessary to have a whole room or fancy equipment for your dedicated space. All you need is a desk or table, your computer, a good chair, and any necessary homework supplies. You’ll want your space to be comfortable, as well as functional, to allow for maximum productivity. Keep trying different locations until you find a spot that works for you.
3. Eat healthy foods/snacks
Having the option to eat food at home is a great perk of being an online student. Because a tempting snack might only be one room away, you’ll want to make sure that you’re stocking up on healthy food options. Many students may not consider the health factor of the food they’re eating, but the foods you consume can impact your energy levels and productivity. Eating the food you already have at home is also a good way to save money and avoid the tempting lure of food delivery apps.
If you find yourself with limited time throughout the day to make healthy meals, consider meal prepping or “packing” your lunch. Preparing your snacks and meals in advance will ensure that even on your full days of school work, you can quickly grab your meal and enjoy it without having to take time for preparation.
4. Stay away from distractions
One of the hardest parts about taking classes from home might be avoiding things that pull your focus away from what you're working on. With distractions like your favorite TV show or a new text notification, it may be difficult to complete the task at hand. After some practice, you may find it relatively easy to avoid watching shows or checking social media, but you might not be able to distance yourself from unproductive browsing on the computer you’re working from.
Holding yourself accountable can help you perform your best and stay on task while completing your remote work. Staying away from friends, family members, and pets may be a good idea. You might also want to silence your phone to avoid wasting time scrolling through social media. Ultimately, it's up to you to minimize your distractions to maximize your study time.
5. Work with others who are doing the same as you
Although staying away from others can ensure you stay focused, sometimes a little social interaction is a good thing. While your schooling will primarily be completed on a computer screen, don’t forget to interact with other people. If any of your classmates or friends have a similar schedule to yours, consider messaging them for opinions, help, or advice on the course material you’re working on. You can even plan virtual study dates or quick breaks with them throughout your day.
Having an accountability partner, or a person you can trust to keep you on track with your work, is a great way to make sure you both are completing your responsibilities. Just be sure to include time for your accountability partner in your normal routine so you don’t mess up your daily schedule. You might also consider keeping in touch with your professors or academic advisors in case you need any assistance. The people you interact with may not be in the same room, but that doesn’t mean they’re out of reach.
6. Make a plan
The best way to hold yourself accountable when taking classes online is by having a plan and sticking to it. You should invest in a good planner your freshman year and continue to use it as a time management tool throughout your college career. Write down your scheduled times for online learning, academic goals, study breaks, and to-do lists. When you accomplish a task, cross it off. An up-to-date and realistic planner can be a helpful tool for managing stress effectively and completing your work on time.
It is also important that you set a specific study schedule. Although the freedom of online school is thrilling, it can get out of hand very quickly. Try to figure out when you are most productive and base your hours around that time frame. This can help you utilize tips on how to excel in school the best.
7. Establish a reward system
Establishing a reward system can be exactly what you need to stay on task without wearing yourself out. Remember those to-do lists and goals you set earlier? Divide those tasks into sections, and place a reward after each section. If you complete a large task before the due date, reward yourself. Your rewards could be outside time, a snack, social media time, or calling a friend.
Looking forward to a break after you finish a few tasks can be very motivating. It is also a great way to help you pace your work. Although your speed may increase, you’ll still want to make sure your effort is 100 percent. Continue to consult your planner or to-do list throughout the day to avoid missing deadlines or skipping important assignments.
Whether you’re a student who’s taking one college class online or you’re completing your entire degree virtually, take note of these easy tips and facts on how to excel in college. As you’re pursuing your education online, remember to work hard and study to the best of your ability. After all, you’re the one who is tasked with the responsibility of keeping yourself accountable. Socialize with your classmates, and don't be afraid to ask for help. Although most of your work will be done in a non-traditional setting, it’s up to you to make the most of your online college experience.