By Ania Melgar

Taking all online classes might seem like a break, but it often requires more self-discipline and self-learning than face-to-face classes. You might want to sleep in and skip your online lecture, but this can affect your academic success in the long run. You need to prepare for your online classes the same way that you would if the class was given in person.

That being said, it is definitely no easy task to adjust to an online learning setting. Here are some ways in which I’ve learned to adapt to this way of learning that you might find helpful, too!

Be Understanding

Learning primarily online is new to most all of us–students and instructors alike, so it is only natural that there will be some bumps in the road along the way. Don’t be scared of making a mistake and try to stay calm if something isn’t clear to you in your online course–you may have already realized that sometimes files that should be there are missing, or folders sometimes get jumbled up on Blackboard.

In the light of the situation that we are going through right now, is important to be understanding when it comes to your instructors. Moving all classes online is probably new to some professors and they are also struggling with adapting to everything that is going on. If a mistake is made, try communicating the problem in a clear and polite way. Remember to lead with kindness and be flexible! Your instructors will definitely do the same for you.

Be Engaged

Although you may sometimes think that you’re teaching yourself, this isn’t true! Your instructors are working hard to provide you with guidance and help every step of the way, but you play an important role in how your online courses will go.

You may be alone with your computer screen in a physical sense, but remember that there are dozens of other students in the same classes. It is likely that most of your classes intend for you to connect and interact with your peers, so don’t let this chance slip by! A lot of learning happens from engaging with your instructor and the course material, but even more important learning often occurs when you listen to others in your course and work together.

If you have to give someone feedback on their work–don’t skip it! If you don’t understand some aspect of the learning material, reach out to others besides your instructor. Try to stay active, get involved, and participate–you deserve to get the most out of your education, so lean in and see this as an opportunity to develop new skills!

Be Organized

Take time to create a consistent schedule. If your online lecture session is live at your regular class time, then you should continue to go to class at the same time as if it was in person. This way you will avoid falling behind and having to stress out about playing catch-up. Consistency is key to success when it comes to online classes.

Besides this, it is important to be organized with your notes and books. For example, use tabs to mark different sections, have lists, formula sheets, and vocabulary terms in one place so that you can find them quickly when you need them in an open book/notes exam.

Claim a Study Space

One of the biggest reasons why online learning is hard is because it takes time, discipline, and quiet. The first step is to find a space around your house and claim it as your own. This space is going to be dedicated to attending online classes and studying – not social media, YouTube, or anything else personal. Tell your family or roommates that you need quiet time and to not be disturbed. This works because if you are not disturbed then you are less likely to lose your train of thought or get distracted.

Siblings, parents, roommates, and even pets can become wild cards that you never thought would interfere with your learning, but you can make it work! Make it known that you have to study, set a specific time period and try to stick to it. Try giving your pet a treat to keep them occupied! Boundaries will help you stay on track.

Take Breaks

It is essential to take breaks between classes and studying. Try some at-home workouts or stretches–there are plenty of YouTube videos for working out at home. You can also go for a walk around your neighborhood and score bonus points with your pet if you have one by giving them some attention!

Listen to some music while you enjoy a calming activity like painting or even solving a puzzle. It is important to give your brain a rest, especially after putting in a lot of hours in classes.

Switching to an all-online learning environment is definitely difficult, but remember that every situation is an opportunity for growth–you just have to seize it!