tips for success in online classes

Essential Strategies for Making the Most of Your Online Coursework

There was a time when online learning and virtual classrooms would have sounded like the stuff of science fiction, yet here we are, with the internet playing an indispensable role in our day-to-day lives. The internet’s effect on us can be seen in almost everything we do — from how we socialize to how we learn.

It’s no surprise, then, that earning your degree online is now becoming increasingly popular on a global scale. Thanks to modern educational technology, you can learn just as much from a remote program as you can in a traditional classroom.

Online learning is certainly different from being face-to-face with your professors in a classroom or lab. To make the most of your online learning experience, use these essential strategies for cyber success!

#1: Know Your Course Requirements.

Read the Syllabus.

When it comes to remote learning, thoroughly understanding the requirements for each course is critical to your success. By carefully reading each course’s syllabus, you learn exactly what will be expected of you — from the textbooks you’ll need to how your grades will be weighed. Essential information, such as learning outcomes and due dates, is also highlighted in your syllabus. We recommend keeping this information readily accessible.

Learn How to Get Help When You Need It.

Long-distance learning doesn’t mean you can’t get help when you need it! When teaching virtual classes, most faculty members keep regular virtual office hours and aim to make themselves as accessible to students as possible.

Maintain an open line of communication with your professors and school faculty. Make sure you know how to contact your professors and program advisor in case you need to ask any questions or voice concerns. It is also helpful to know which departments you can consult if you are having any technical difficulties.

#2: Stay Organized.

Keep Daily To-Do Lists.

Learning to balance online coursework looks a little different for everybody. However, most would agree that keeping a to-do list is a fantastic way to stay on top of your game. Daily or weekly to-do lists can help you ensure that you’re meeting all deadlines and academic expectations. To-do lists can also help you determine how to budget your time, and thanks to modern convenience, you can even ditch the paper-and-pencil lists. The internet offers many digital organizing tools (like Trello,) that you can use to keep yourself on track!

Take Notes and Keep Records.

Learning online doesn’t necessarily mean tossing out all traditional strategies for academic success. Keeping notes is often extremely helpful for remote learners — even if your professors provide notes, keeping your own outlines will help you process and retain key concepts. Furthermore, we recommend keeping folders for every online class. While these folders may be digital, it’s sometimes helpful to keep paper copies, too!

#3: Give Yourself Space!

Make a Designated Workspace.

We all work best in different environments. One wonderful thing about learning remotely is that you can create your own perfect work environment. In fact, one of the best ways to ensure that you’re getting the most out of your remote coursework is to craft the perfect study space — somewhere you can focus, learn, and work as productively as possible.

Maximize your Focus.

Part of creating your perfect workspace is eliminating anything that may distract you. If you know that your text messages tend to steal your focus, consider leaving your phone in a different room. Or perhaps your living room TV reminds you of the shows you’re missing — make sure your study space is separate from your space for relaxing. If you can’t concentrate without noise in the background, consider playing yourself some light music or audio!

#4: Practice Time Management.

Create a Schedule.

Similar to how keeping a to-do list can help you stay on top of your priorities, having a daily or weekly schedule can help guarantee you’re doing what needs to be done. It can also create a sense of structure and stability — helping you stay productive all semester long.

Break Down Your Tasks.

Breaking tasks into smaller chunks isn’t just a proven strategy for learning, it is also an excellent time-management trick. If you’re juggling multiple assignments with similar due dates, breaking down projects into smaller tasks can help guarantee that you’re completing what you need for every class without becoming overwhelmed.

Get Ahead of the Deadlines.

If you find some unexpected free time, why not use it to your advantage by getting ahead in your online courses? When you get ahead of deadlines, you reduce your stress and lighten your workload. This helps you avoid any overwhelming project pileups down the road, and maybe even provides you with the mental space to find new perspectives on your courses.

#5: Hold Yourself Accountable.

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize!

When learning from the comfort of your own home, it can sometimes be easy to forget that online school is real school — your online coursework counts just as much as it would if you were sitting in a traditional classroom. Remind yourself why you’re earning your degree or certification and what long-term goals you’re working towards. If it helps, write down your goals and keep them handy — it can serve as a great motivator if things start to get challenging.

Set Realistic Goals.

Your goals don’t just have to be long-term. Setting short-term goals will keep you motivated throughout your studies. Many students find that SMART goals help keep them motivated. SMART goals are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time bound.

For example, a SMART goal might be that you’ll receive an A on the term paper that’s due next month.

#6: Actively Participate.

Check Your Email.

Remember — when you’re learning remotely, your email is your main line of contact with your college or university. Check your email regularly for important updates and announcements. In addition, most colleges and universities have apps that you can use to track your email and coursework right from your phone.

Interact with Your Classmates.

Class discussion boards aren’t just a requirement for most online courses — they are also the best way to stay connected to your colleagues. Discussion boards and virtual breakout rooms are amazing forums for professional debate and development. By exchanging ideas and interacting with learners from diverse backgrounds, you will build your own knowledge and skill set. You may even make some meaningful connections with other professionals! Some remote learners even start virtual class study groups to connect regularly and discuss key concepts.

#7: Practice Self-Care.

Be Kind to Yourself!

Remote programs come with a learning curve. Aside from adjusting to an online format, it may be a challenge to remain organized, motivated, and productive. Moreover, you’re a busy person with a personal life and expectations to fulfill outside of school. Don’t let minor setbacks and frustrations get you down or let you lose sight of your goals. Keeping a positive attitude and being kind to yourself will help you succeed!

Take Breaks.

You’re accomplishing a lot just by challenging yourself to earn your degree. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself! Even if you’re not feeling overwhelmed, taking breaks is a healthy way to clear your head and reduce your stress. Don’t be afraid to work regular breaks into your schedule — rest is productive.

Reward Your Hard Work.

Did you recently meet a big goal? Maybe you got a fantastic grade, or maybe you’ve just been working really hard. In any case, acknowledge your efforts by rewarding yourself. Take yourself on a hike, go to a concert, or spend some “you” time — you’ve earned it!

Remote Learning at University of Bridgeport

UB has been offering online degree programs since 1997! As the first Connecticut university to offer an online master’s program, we have always been at the forefront of online education. We’ve got the tools and resources to help you succeed, and our faculty are experts at building inclusive and productive online learning environments.

Learn more about UB’s online degree programs today!