Anna’s Declassified College Survival Guide: Tip #6 how to be successful in your newly online classes

Our “third” spring break is just about over and classes will resume bringing us into a new normal. Instead of trying to force normal into our current situation, it is better to start adapting so we can start thriving in this new normal. For some students, suddenly having online classes is a blessing, but for others this is uncharted territory. Today, we will focus on how each of us can adapt and thrive to our new class format.

Step 1: Have a device that you can use to comfortably access your courses

For classes where writing is necessary, it is probably best to have a laptop or a desktop computer, but if you just need to access zoom a tablet, or even your phone might suffice. If you do not have your own device, contact your school or college (i.e. the College of Liberal Arts), as they have been reaching out to students and offering support in any way they can.

Step 2: Have a consistent internet connection.

For students who relied on campus internet to complete their coursework, not having the university open can be a big problem. Local companies Spectrum and Xfinity are offering free wifi to students who qualify due to income and situation. 

Step 3: Keep a routine

While this may seem a bit impossible with many cancellations and changes, it is important to keep a routine to stay on track in our classes. At St. Cloud State, if professors would like to still meet synchronously (everyone meeting at the same time via Zoom or D2L), they must meet during the regularly scheduled time. Even if you are now attending classes in your pajamas, try not to sleep in until noon every day. 

When classes resume in their alternative format on March 30, there are only five weeks left of the semester before finals. While professors may adjust their previous requirements and assignments, content will still need to be covered and students still need to be assessed. Even with online classes, professors may expect up to two hours of studying time for every hour of class time. It is possible that your professor may leave even more work up to you now that classes are not face to face, make sure you schedule that time in now. 

Step 4: Get organized

It is much easier for students to keep track of their assignments when our professors are reminding us two or three days a week when we sit in class. For most of us, that will no longer be happening. Unless all of your classes are meeting via Zoom for the full time, a lot of deadlines and reminders will be left up to you. Through our Outlook accounts provided by the university, there is a calendar feature that you can use to keep track of Zoom meetings, assignments, and assessments. Otherwise there are other virtual calendars, such as Google Calendar. Some of you may be old school like me and keep a paper planner. I prefer paper planners because of the satisfaction of crossing off items when they are completed. 

Step 5: Create a study place

This tip is especially for those who moved back home from living on or near campus. For those who no longer have their own room to study, it is important for you to find a new quiet place to work. Trying to work on homework or attend Zoom classes at your dining room table will likely be filled with distractions and reduce your productivity. Maybe there is a spare bedroom you can convert to your office, or maybe there is a quiet corner of the basement, or maybe you simply need to create shifts with your new “roommates” on who gets to use the dining room table as their office throughout the day. In this time of constant change, creativity is a necessity. 

Step 6: Create virtual study groups

Humans are social beings and that need for social interaction will only increase the longer we are social distancing. Borrowing from a previous survival tip, study groups are one of the keys to success in college. While those need to be online now, there are many options from messaging groups, email chains, Zoom meetings, or maybe your professor even created a discussion board for students to answer each other’s questions. 

Step 7: Get motivated

You can do this! While we may not have survived a pandemic before (and hopefully never need to again), we have survived interruptions to our classes before, namely standardized testing and spring break. Every day is one day closer to our graduation, one day closer to our future careers. American author, H. Jackson Brown Jr. advised “The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today.” Our future careers depend on us being adaptable and life-long learners. 

Everyone is a different style of learner, but this a basic framework of how to be successful in online classes. We can learn and adapt for the remaining five weeks of the semester. Our hard work will pay off. Stay healthy, my fellow Huskies.

If you enjoyed these tips, please check out my previous ones:

Tip #1: Get involved

Tip #2: Study smarter, not harder

Tip #3: Get to class

Tip #4: Focus on one thing at a time

Tip #5: Take care of your mental health

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Anna Panek

Anna is a junior at St. Cloud State University and is double majoring in Math Education and Spanish Education, with a minor in Special Education. She is the Managing Editor for the University Chronicle this year. When she is not at campus attending class, working as a learning assistant or math tutor, or writing for the University Chronicle, she enjoys volunteering, reading, being overly competitive at board games, and telling horribly funny puns.

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