Some U.S. college campuses have committed to opening in the fall with safety measures in place.
However, others like schools, including those within the University of California system, are sticking to online learning while the Covid-19 pandemic continues to affect nations around the world.
Online classes are not ideal for many students. In fact, according to the National Society of High School Scholars Student Voices of America Survey, 32% of the student respondents noted that they would prefer not to attend school in the fall if classes were to be held online.
However, if you are a student currently attending or applying to a college or university that will be utilizing online learning for a while, you’ll want to learn how to take advantage of the different aspects of online classes while you can.
The great hope is that this ‘new normal’ will not last forever, so you will only need to make the most of it temporarily!
Here are some ways college students specifically can take advantage of online learning, based on the specific ways online learning asks students to apply themselves:
Set Your Mindset
Before you start (or continue) online learning, set yourself up for success by either setting or readjusting your mindset.
Even if you are disappointed that you have to learn online, remember that you are lucky to have access to online learning at all during this time.
Try making a list of positives about online learning, like setting your own schedule, having access to resources at your fingertips, and connecting with classmates and professors in new ways.
You can also try keeping a gratitude journal to reset your mind each day to focus on the positives as much as possible.
Though your feelings of frustration are completely valid, sometimes focusing on what is working will help to keep you motivated until the time comes when you can go back to in-person classes.
Read All Instructions Thoroughly
Since you’ll be learning online, your instructions will likely be very specific to whatever online portal or software you are using, and the instructions might be more detailed than they are in class.
Especially if you are more of an auditory learner, take note of all the instructions and maybe even read them out loud to yourself or record them on your phone so that you’re clear on what’s expected of you during your online course.
Make Sure You Have a Solid Internet Connection
Though not everyone has access to the internet, hopefully you have a strong enough internet connection if you’re being asked to learn online.
If you do not have Internet access, reach out to your instructor to find out what remote learning options they have for students who need that kind of access but don’t have it at home.
You might find that wireless internet does not work as well as an ethernet connection, so if you can get a cord to connect to your router, that might be the most reliable option during your online classes, especially if you have video chats with instructors.
Set a Calendar for Assignments and Deadlines
While online learning is your reality, you will need to have a certain level of self-motivation and time management that you might not have had to activate as much with in-person classes.
This could mean creating a physical calendar for assignments and class deadlines or setting reminders on your phone.
The better you prepare at the start of your class by recording the deadlines of assignments and exams you already know about, the easier the online course will be for you throughout the time you have to learn online.
Make an Effort to Participate in Discussions
Though discussions can be more awkward online, most online learning programs offer ways for students to discuss concepts and assignments with fellow students and instructors. This might even be part of your grade.
So even if you don’t feel motivated, try to discuss with your fellow classmates or instructors whenever you can. This will help you to actively engage with the material and likely help you remember it as well.
If it helps, think of your online learning discussions as another social media site that allows you to engage with others through a digital platform.
Of course, remember that you are in class, so you should maintain more formal discussions than you would have on social media and make sure to be respectful of everyone else in the class.
Take a look at tips for effective online discussions if you’re unsure how to approach these online course discussions and need guidance.
Seek Help When You Need It
In fact, online learning has its own set of unique difficulties, so don’t be afraid to ask for help whenever you need it.
Your professors should have office hours, so schedule time to chat with them if you don’t understand a concept or need help submitting work using the online system they’ve created or are using through the college or university.
You can also seek online learning help and online study tips from trusted sources. Since you’re already online, search for various articles with tips on how to motivate yourself and keep track of online assignments.
Take Focused Screen Breaks
Staring at a computer or other digital screen for too long can be trying on the mind, body, and spirit.
Make sure you take focused breaks from your screen to recharge so that you don’t overdo your screen time and get overwhelmed.
Set a timer on your phone to remind yourself to take these breaks in between classes. If you can, spend some time outside.
Exercise, eat a snack, drink water, or meditate. Whatever helps you reset your mind will be a great break. That way, the online learning becomes much more manageable.
Prepare for (and Dream About) In-person Learning Opportunities
Since you hopefully won’t be learning online forever (unless you want to) you can also use any free time you have during online learning to prepare yourself for in-person opportunities.
For example, if you’re hoping to study abroad in the future, take time to master a foreign language based on the location of your dream study abroad trip.
You can also use this time to apply for scholarships that will help you finance the rest of your college education or a specific opportunity to volunteer or study abroad.
If you know the career you’d like to pursue, you can also spend time learning more about that career on your own time, setting up calls with professionals in that field, and searching for internships to which you can apply.
You can do this! Online learning might not be ideal, but it’s better than no learning at all.
Take good care of yourself, and enjoy the remote learning for the opportunities it gives you. You’ll certainly be ready once you can go back to class!