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How I prepare for online college classes

I am a rising junior at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), and over half of the classes I’ve taken in my college career so far have been online despite living on campus. There are many benefits to taking online classes. If you enjoy making your own schedule, are more productive during off-peak hours, or are more introverted, online classes might be an excellent opportunity for you to explore.

Between online or hybrid courses—classes that have both online instruction and in-person exams—twelve out of my twenty classes have been online. In my first semester at UTSA, I only took one online course. A year later, I took all of my five courses, except one, online. My main reason for taking mostly online classes is because I enjoy making my own schedule. I genuinely feel like the same courses at the same time every day gets old very quickly. With online classes, you can rearrange your schedule week by week to fit your personal needs. College can be very emotionally taxing. For my personality type, taking online courses allows me to shift things according to whatever individual needs I may have that day.

If you take online courses, you can rearrange your schedule week by week to fit your personal needs.

Secondly, I am a night owl, meaning I’m more productive at night. If I had to go to class regularly during the week in the mornings or afternoons, I don’t think I would be able to perform as well as I am when I can make my schedule. If this is your scenario, you might want to consider taking online classes as well.

Lastly, I get anxious about being around too many people all day. I prefer to retreat to work on whatever I may need to. That is when I am most productive. The most important thing is learning what works for you. But if you relate with my sentiment of not being able to be fully productive around groups of people, you should consider taking most or all online courses. All in all, the most important thing is studying your habits and personality to be able to choose the best schedule possible.

In addition to knowing your strengths, it doesn’t hurt to have a couple of tips on how to be successful when taking online courses. Here are my main ways you can increase your chances of being successful in online classes.

1. Plan ahead

Knowing what the requirements are and what lies ahead for a course, especially when it is online, is very important. According to US News, “…students will do themselves a huge favor by creating a schedule with listed deadlines, weekly readings times, study times, and paper preparation depending on the course.” This goes to show that you will find it in your best interest to plan for your courses as it can help “reduce stress” and help you have “clear expectations.”

2. Have a set workspace

Having a designated workspace is very important to be successful in online courses. Whether it be your desk in your dorm room or a specific floor in the library on campus, having a workspace will help you tremendously. Like the US News article on tips to succeed in an online course says, “ is important that students have a workplace that allows them to concentrate on their assignments with as little interference as possible..”


3. Get organized

Being successful in an online course takes organization. This is the case for every type of college course, but more important in an online course. US News pointed out that, “in face-to-face courses, there are regular meeting patterns and for some, this may assist students in their organization, but in online courses, there is much more reliance on the student.” Using things like a calendar, binders, and other things of that nature will help a student feel less pressure and increase their chances of success in an online class overall.

4. Use on campus resources

It may seem like taking less in-person classes means you need to use on-campus resources less. This is not the case. “Campus resources are designed to make college easier, but that’s only the case if you take advantage of them. Remember, every student needs help at some point.” For one, every student needs help. There’s going to be concepts or materials you don’t understand, and it only makes sense for you to get help, preferably sooner rather than later. Another reason why utilizing on-campus resources is essential when it comes to taking online classes is, you will most likely understand the material better.

When using tutoring services and things of that nature, you’ll be able to be around other students and, most of all, experts who can help you be successful in that course. It’s important to utilize on-campus resources when taking online classes because you’re paying for them. All your on-campus resources like tutoring services, IT services, library, and more, are all paid for by your tuition and fees, so why not make proper use of them? And now that more classes are online because of COVID-19, there are many resources throughout YouTube and other platforms that can help.

Taking online courses can be a fantastic option for those who want it. It does require some discipline and focus, but I believe that if you really want it, you can make it happen. Things like learning styles, personality types, and technological resources are a huge factor in deciding whether or not to take online classes. I know, especially with classes being online because of COVID-19, most students may not appreciate it. But hopefully, these tips will help you have a great online semester.

For more information on other COVID-19 specific resources available, check out succeeding in school during COVID-19.

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