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Online Study Tips

Never taken an online class before? Don’t worry! For tips on being a successful online student, read below and/or check out this video(opens in a new window)

1. Create a study schedule.

  • Online courses have the benefit of flexibility, but students who create a study routine are able to manage their workload in a timely manner and avoid cramming the night before an assignment/exam is due. This will help to lessen your stress.
  • Set aside time each day to focus on your classes.
  • Think in one- to two-hour blocks, not lengthy marathon sessions. Research shows that we lose focus if we try to study for long, unbroken periods. Take frequent, short breaks. Go for a quick walk, make a cup of tea, or find a pet to cuddle.
  • Write out a weekly schedule with dates and times for each class.
  • Mark assignment due dates on your calendar.

2. Create a study space and stay organized.

  • A clean, distraction-free environment will help you learn and focus better.
  • When setting up your study space, make sure you:
    • Have the required books, materials, and technology for the course.
    • Have headphones for listening to lectures or discussions (especially important in shared spaces).
    • Remove distractions (social media, etc.).

3. Figure out how you learn best.

  • Once you’ve established where you’ll learn, think about when and how you accomplish your best work.
    • Are you a morning person? Do you focus better mid-day? Do you prefer to work with music in the background?
    • Think about what types of information help you best grasp new concepts and employ relevant study strategies. If you’re a visual learner, for example, print out transcripts of the video lectures to review. Learn best by listening? Make sure to build time into your schedule to play and replay all audio- and video-based course content.

4. Be committed and engaged.

  • When it comes to online classes, you need to have the discipline to sit down and say, “I am going to work on this,” as well as the dedication to actually follow through. Try to stick to your study plan as best you can.
  • Participate in the course’s online forum to help you better understand course materials and engage with fellow classmates. Your instructor will be clear about the expectations.
  • The flexibility of online learning means that if you have 30 minutes before dinner plans, you could squeeze in a discussion response around your schedule. Set a goal to check in on the class discussion threads every day.

5. Connect with other focused students.

  • Focused and successful people inspire those around them. Find a study buddy whose work ethic you admire and set up a review session with them online or over the phone. You can share a document via OneDrive to review together.
  • Online classes may sometimes make you feel like you are learning on your own, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Most online courses are built around the concept of collaboration, with professors and instructors actively encouraging students to work together to complete assignments and discuss lessons.
  • Consider forming an online study group or setting up a regular time to speak over the phone or text with a peer from class.
  • Take your own notes. Bonus: Write them by hand. (It’s better for retention!)

6. Ask for help.

  • Be proactive in asking for help. If you feel yourself falling behind or lost, speak up. Don’t wait until an assignment is almost due to ask questions or report issues. Your professors will let you know how best to contact them.

7. Stay healthy.

  • Your health must be a priority. Eat well, get plenty of sleep (aim for seven to nine hours per night), and take regular study breaks.
  • Remember to spend time with friends and family. Strive for balance. It’s good for your overall happiness and well-being.