How to Be a Successful Online Student
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How to Be a Successful Online Student

So...COVID-19! You might have been sent home, but you've still got work to do. As a well-seasoned online student, I've got a few tips and techniques to keep you from procrastinating, panicking, or partying (too much).


The phrase that resonates for me right now is, "if, in a few months, this all feels like an worked."

As schools and universities transition to online learning, many on-campus students will struggle to navigate the new territory of online learning. I went to a foreign high school in Seoul, South Korea with a graduating class of about 98 students. As you can imagine, the course offerings were limited - focused on core subjects like English, Business, and Biology. During my senior year, I had a few open periods and decided to take some online classes like e-commerce marketing and media writing. I discovered that the online format is very effective for me as a planner, self-starter, and food-motivated gal. I fully appreciate that this is not the case for everyone, so here are a few tips to get all your work done AND still have time to binge-watch your favorite Netflix show on this Coronacation (too soon?).

Make a Master Calendar

Go course-by-course and create a master calendar that lists your assignments in order of due-date, week-by-week. If an assignment requires more work, put a star next to it so you know to set aside more time and to prioritize starting early.

Using Your Master Calendar, Make a Daily Schedule

With your due dates and priorities in mind, make a schedule for each day of the week so you are held accountable and nothing is left until the last minute. Try to split up the assignments so you don't get overwhelmed on any given day.

Give Yourself Frequent Breaks

Our peak attention and focus is best achieved by 45 minutes of work, 15 minutes break. If you're on a roll, go with it, but generally, you want to give your full effort within a 45-minute time period and then relax for 15 minutes. Try to avoid social media during this time (seriously, you can do it!) because 100% of research shows it's hard to get back into study-mode after fantasizing about your next vacation. The best way to refresh yourself is to drink a glass of water, stretch (I know I am not the only hunchy typer out there), scream into a pillow, whatever YOU need to recenter.

Buy a Mini Size of Your Favorite Treat

If you are food motivated like me, some candy is all it takes to get through a 10-page essay. It goes something like this: research, candy, outline, candy, thesis, topic sentences, support, candy, first draft, candy, final draft, submit, an entire cheesecake. Breaking up seemingly insurmountable tasks into steps and punctuating those small accomplishments with a reward makes it a lot less stressful and a lot more delicious. You may want to balance this with several pushups and squats, (since gyms are likely to be verboten soon) but I'm not going to tell you how to live your life.

Don't Be Afraid To Contact Your Teachers

I can't emphasize this enough. I have a strong inkling that my teachers sigh and roll their eyes when they see ANOTHER email from Mackenzie Garle. Am I annoying? Yes. Do I ask a lot of questions? Yes. Do I have a 4.0? Yes. Your education is about YOU. Own it and use every bit of support that is available to you! Remember that online, no one sees your eyes glaze over during the lecture and no one discerns your "what the f**k" face when you read the assignment. You have to seek out the help and luckily it is absolutely there for those who ask.

Engage with Your Classmates

It can be hard to see the value in engaging with fellow online students - you may never actually meet them so what's the point of engaging beyond "Hey, Tom. Great Post!"? I have learned that crafting engaging discussion posts and asking your classmates questions to encourage active participation can lead to internships (with Odyssey - hello!), jobs, friendships, and ultimately a fulfilling college experience.

Give it Your All

Online school gets a bad wrap. People think it's easier, less time consuming, and not "real" school. If you give it your all and work hard it can be incredibly rewarding. Online classes teach you to be a self-starter, an organizer, a time manager and is arguably the best way to prepare for your future career. Besides, you get the exact same degree and get to skip the 8 am classes (WIN!).

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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