Tips for Online Students

April 11, 2019

Online classes provide a great alternative to the traditional classroom setting in terms of eliminating daily commutes, learning in a comfortable environment, and being able to work more at home. Increasing in availability across many campuses nationwide, the online class format provides a convenience factor for busy students. Though it may seem simple to take a class from the comfortable boundaries of your apartment, home, or a coffee shop, online classes deserve the same attention as those set in a traditional classroom. Here are some tips for students taking one or a few classes online:


             Photo: Andrew Neel on Unsplash 


Don’t get distracted

It may be easy to get distracted by phone notifications/texts, loud roommates, pets, siblings, inquiring parents, or any general noise when trying to listen to an online lecture at home. The temptation to pause the lecture and attend to something else may pry at you, which is different from being in a normal classroom setting that is inclusive of an atmosphere designed to give your undivided attention to an unpaused lecture (the only distraction being browsing on your laptop).


Take solid notes

Unless you take online classes knowing your close friends are doing the exact same thing, it will be essential to take good notes since you are the only one occupying your online classroom. It is important not to brush aside the posted lectures, since you are unaware of anyone else in the class who can provide you a streamlined version of the notes. It is worthwhile to pay attention to the professor’s words in online lectures and be scribbling down extra tidbits of information they mention, as it will prove valuable in the stretch run for assignments, projects, or exams.


Notify the Professor if you need help

The professor should be delighted to help you in the event a topic is confusing, as online professors may want to remain approachable to students despite no face-to-face meetings. It is certainly possible to schedule an online or in-person help session depending on availability and your proximity to the school. If the professor has online office hours, it may be wise to consider utilizing them frequently to patch up on the course material or simply ask some questions.


Treat online classes like any other class

One misread approach to online learning may be downplaying the importance of the class. Online classes should not be approached as “blow off” classes that seem easy to get by. Though they are a different category of classes, keep in mind the only significant switch is the classroom is where you want it to be. Other than that, online classes should be treated with the amount of time and dedication as any other class. They still require good notes, study time, and can have exams or papers due as well. If the same motivation and effort from a traditional class is brought to an online class, it too can be conquered with flying colors.


Online classes are every bit as informative as traditional classes, and being equipped with the right mindset can ensure success in these classes. Though taking a class at home may come with its cravings to “take breaks” at times, could you endure the potential distractions and perform like the good student you are?



Rishi Patel is a senior majoring in Communication Studies at the University of Iowa. He has written as an intern for SPORTalk and Study Breaks Magazine. He also loves to write fiction, non-fiction, and poetry as a hobby to expand his writing prowess. He hopes to work as a writer/editor when he graduates.     


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