10 Ways to Stay On Top of Your Online Classes

10 Ways to Stay On Top of Your Online Classes Blog Header
10 Ways to Stay On Top of Your Online Classes Blog Header

Get the most up-to-date tips on how to excel in your online education: 10 Strategies for Successful Online Learning

The advent of 100% online university courses has made higher education more accessible than ever before, expanding the walls of the classroom to encompass the entire world. At Laurier, options for online study include two undergraduate degrees, two graduate degrees, and five  graduate diploma options - all designed for working professionals. While these online programs provide huge advantages over traditional classroom learning in terms of convenience and flexibility, they also require even more discipline on the part of the student to ensure success. If you’re considering studying at Laurier, these 10 tips for online classes can help keep you on top of your academic responsibilities!

1. Establish a Routine

Scheduling flexibility is very important to a lot of our students, whether they are working professionals who can’t attend daytime classes, or far-flung distance students who don’t share the same timezone as their professors. It’s important to think of “flexibility” as the right to create your own schedule, not to abandon schedules altogether. You will be more productive by setting aside designated periods throughout the week to view lectures, do your readings and complete coursework.

2. Leave Yourself Reminders

The calendar app on your phone can be a great way to stay organized: block out study time in your calendar, and set up notifications and reminders to help you stay on track. A lot of people studying online in Canada have already been in the workforce for years, and have developed solid work habits. A calendar on the fridge, an agenda, or even the classic wall of post-it notes surrounding your workspace. Whatever works for you, works!

3. Get Comfortable Saying ‘No’

Remember why you’re studying, and recognize the importance of your time. You may have to get used to saying no to social obligations, and your friends may have to get used to seeing a little less of you for a while. The real ones will understand, and will still be there when you’re free.

Canadian poet and novelist Jonathan Ball offers some advice on a common challenge to those with self-imposed schedules: “One problem you’ll run up against is people not respecting your schedule. That’s okay. Only you need to respect it. Jealously defend and guard your time.”

4. Reduce Distractions

On the same note, one of the biggest challenges of online study is the sheer number of distractions available when you’re working from home. Social media, pets, TV, household chores... these are the fodder for serial procrastination. If you can’t seem to focus while working from home, try heading to your local library or cafe to help you stay on track. If you’re doing a reading that doesn’t require an internet connection, disconnect and turn off your phone for a while.

5. Keep Good Notes

There are many different kinds of learners: some learn best by ear, others by reading. Recognize your learning style and keep notes accordingly. One good approach is to write your notes out longhand in a book while you watch a lecture, and then type them up afterwards. Studies have shown many students remember better writing by hand, and the process of reviewing your notes as you type them up helps reinforce the lesson.

6. Don’t Let the Work Stack Up

Laurier’s online courses are designed to help you complete your studies quickly. Your course load is balanced so that if you’re reasonably efficient in your work habits, you should be able to excel. But this also means that if you get behind on your work, it can be difficult to catch up! Make sure if you lose a work day for whatever reason, you don’t dawdle when it comes to making up for it.

7. Don’t Beat Yourself Up

Even the most disciplined among us will have days where we don’t get as much done as we’d like, and life’s little emergencies can disrupt your studies. There’s no sense in beating yourself up over it! When you turn your work into a source of stress, your mind can come up with some very clever ways to avoid that stress. After a while, you can end up focused on the guilt you feel for not doing the work, rather than the challenges of the work itself, and that’s not a recipe for success. It’s also important to communicate to your professor if you are running into challenges during the course. Professor’s are there to help you, and provide guidance!

8. Don’t Cram

Students pulling all-nighters and skipping out on basic hygiene to cram for an exam is better left to teen movies than your own studies. For one thing, you won’t absorb more than a fraction of what you read this way, and for another, any slim benefit you get from cramming will be more than offset by the impact of writing your exam while exhausted. Crack the books a week earlier and take regular breaks instead.

9. Make Use of Student Resources

We want to offer online students the same level of support that those on campus receive. All students have access to a dedicated Student Learning Advisor who can help you with any technical or resource-based questions you may have; discuss coursework with your instructors and fellow students through the MyLearningSpace online portal; and reach out to other support personnel online, such as our expert librarians. You may be remote, but you’re not alone!

10. Reward Yourself

Is there a particular treat you just love, like a cup of coffee or binge-watching your favourite show? Reward yourself for sticking to your schedule and achieving your learning goals by indulging a bit. You’ll feel as though you’ve earned your treat, and your brain will also begin to associate these small pleasures with getting your work done!