Beginning online classes for the first time can seem overwhelming. Depending on the number of courses you are enrolled in, as well as the individual course requirements, your workload can vary greatly from one semester to the next. With a bit of preparation and organization, however, you will find that managing your class schedules and course work is not as difficult as it may first appear. These 8 tips come from experienced students, who have learned how to manage their online studies in order to get the most out of their educational experience.
Don’t Take on More than You Can Handle
Most people taking online courses also have work and family schedules they need to keep up, in addition to their online learning. Before you register for classes, take a realistic appraisal of your current obligations. Not everyone can handle a full time study schedule, but there’s really no need to. One of the benefits of learning online is that you can work at your own pace and in the comfort of your own home. As a beginner, try registering for just one or two classes. You can always increase your participation during the following semester, which is far better than realizing halfway into your first semester that you just can’t keep up with work, home and school.
Designate a Work Area
Whether you are taking traditional classes or online classes, the need for a designated work area remains the same. Choose an area away from others in the household and one where distractions from television, loud music or talking will be at a minimum. Let others in the household know that this is your space for homework and studying. Ask them in advance to please try not to interrupt you when you are working.
Order Supplies as Early as Possible
It’s best to order books and other supplies as soon as you know which ones will be required. Some students choose to save time and money by ordering textbooks from second hand retailers. There are a variety of websites that offer discounted textbooks, so before you buy, it can pay to do a quick internet search.
Syllabus and Due Dates
For most online courses the instructor will provide you with both a syllabus, describing requirements for any major assignments due during the semester, as well as a list of assignment due dates. These two pages of material will be your guideline for the next several months, so ensure that you receive them and do look them over as soon as possible.
Organize Your Work Area
Keep your textbooks and any needed supplies like computers, printers, a calculator, pens, notebooks and paper in an organized area in your work space. Try to put things away in the same place whenever you finish using them. By being organized you can save yourself time and energy, which could otherwise be wasted trying to find important school related materials. Display your syllabus and due dates in a prominent place near your work area. Check these pages often throughout the week so you don’t miss assignments or neglect to meet guidelines for work which are detailed in the syllabus.
When you begin online classes for the first time, you will be provided with several different website addresses, e-mail addresses and other important information that will provide you with access to course material, student discussion groups, research libraries and more. You should also receive the e-mail addresses of your instructor and other students enrolled in the course. Write all of the addresses down, as well as passwords, account information and other important information. Keep everything in a class notebook or post it near your workspace, so you will have immediate access to what you need, when you need it.
Create a Schedule
One final bit of advice involves creating a strict study schedule for yourself. It is best to devote a few hours every night to homework, reading and test preparation. Depending on your work and family routine, as well as how your courses are structured, you may choose to work on assignments during weekends or regular days off of work. The important thing is to create a structured schedule and to hold yourself to it, in order to ensure that you don’t miss important deadlines or find that you’re cramming at the last minute for your final exams.