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Succeeding in online college classes

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College Possible has compiled several tips and best practices to help you be successful when taking college courses online.

Stay healthy

It is essential to take care of yourself and stay healthy. Get plenty of sleep, stay hydrated, wash your hands frequently, practice positive self-talk, and prioritize your self-care.  Also be sure to find time to stretch, exercise, and connect with friends and family. Try to stick to your schedule and keep routines as much as possible.


Get organized

  • Print or save the syllabus for each of your classes. Read your syllabus thoroughly and make notes of any important dates and deadlines.
  • Have a plan for where you will complete your schoolwork and create a space for yourself. This will go a long way in reinforcing your ability to succeed in a new college environment.
  • WATCH: How to create an organized, productive study space
  • Use a checklist to identify the items you will need to complete your coursework. Some of these might include:
    Wifi, Laptop or smartphone, Pen and paper, Textbooks
  • Check out this list from University of Texas at El Paso


Explore and practice effective study strategies

  • Distributed Practice: This study strategy requires that you spread your learning out over time — no last-minute cramming! Focus solely on studying in 20-30 minute sessions, and take small breaks between study time.
  • Practice Testing: Quiz yourself on the information you are learning. For example, after reading a chapter, ask yourself what the three key takeaways were. Keep yourself honest! If you are unsure, go back and review what you read.
  • Self Explanation: This study strategy is similar to note-taking or journaling. As you take in information from a video lecture, continue to take notes, and explain the information presented in your own words. This will encourage critical thinking and increase your retention of the information.
  • Check out other study strategies here


Maintain a familiar schedule

  • Once you plan to take your learning remote, stick to the schedule you have already become familiar with this semester. Changing your routine can cause increased stress and inhibit your learning.
  • If your professor shares video lectures that you can watch at any time, plan to watch them during your regular class time.


Connect with peers online

  • When taking online classes, it is more important than ever to connect with other students in your class. Help to hold each other accountable for completing the work, and share your own tips on successfully navigating the coursework online.
  • Use video chats to build a virtual study group or start a group chats with other students in each class.


Increase communication with your professors

  • Maintain a relationship with your professor through email. Over-communication is better than no communication.
  • Ask your professors about their plan for virtual office hours, and plan on meeting with them during that time in addition to email.
  • Remember, changing to online courses is new and unexpected for professors as well, so don’t expect them to get it all right. Increasing your communication will help both you and your professor succeed.


Use technology wisely

  • Stay off of social media, turn off the TV,  and put down the PS4 controller when participating in your online courses.
  • Take notes during your video lectures rather than relying on being able to replay the video.
  • Check your university’s online portal and your school email frequently.


Reach out to your counselor or college coach

College Possible is here to support you! Contact us at any time regarding any of these steps.

Additional resources to explore:


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