Tips for Navigating Online Classes

todayJanuary 26, 2021 10

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By Rachael Gerron
Web Content Assistant Manager

Over the past few months, we’ve all had to make accommodations to our everyday routine due to COVID-19. I can imagine it’s especially difficult to navigate for students who are entering their first semester of college. The first semester is always an adjustment and experiencing that during a pandemic adds another layer of uncertainty. 

So far, I’ve spent almost half of my time in college in online classes due to this pandemic. Last semester was especially hard for me and forced me to figure out how to make this new form of school work for me. Over the winter break, I reflected on how I could’ve done better last semester and what I could implement into my routine to improve my productivity.

Whether you’re a new student or about to graduate, these tips can help you to succeed in your online classes this semester! 

  1. Separate Home and School

Above all else, It’s important to have space away from your bed to do work. Creating a space specifically for work makes you feel and see a physical difference to put you in an, “it’s time to work” mindset. 

According to Psychology Today, “those who set clear boundaries between work and home experience less conflict between the two domains.”

I find that the library or a coffee shop is the best environment for me to get work done and feel the most productive; however, it’s not practical to do this every time I have a quiz on Canvas. (Not to mention, this isn’t the most ideal during a pandemic.) 

Another option is bringing work outside. Not only are you getting some vitamin D, but you are also experiencing a change of scenery which is important for feeling productive. 

  1.  Keep Your Camera On

In zoom classes, it can be hard to feel connected to teachers and other students, especially if your camera is off. I’ve made it a goal to keep my camera on during classes because it makes me feel like I’m really in class. If you’re like me, this also makes it easier to participate because I feel more like I’m in class and less like I’m watching a pre-recorded lecture. 

It can be uncomfortable to keep the camera on, but this discomfort kind of holds you accountable for doing your work and paying attention like you would in an in-person class. Basically, if you wouldn’t make breakfast during an in-person class, don’t do it during an online class! (This is more of a note to self.)

And if for no other reason, keep your camera on for your professor. They will appreciate seeing your face and they’ll most likely remember you. Last week I put my new rule into action, and despite being the only one, I kept my camera on during the whole class. I genuinely hated being the only box on the screen (besides my teacher), but at the end of class, she thanked me and asked everyone to do the same next week. Even though I was so uncomfortable, I made a good first impression on my new teacher. 

  1. Write Due Dates in Planner/ Calendar

With this new online school experience, there is a lot more pressure on the students to stay on top of due dates. You’re not going to be in class for your teacher to remind the class when assignments are due. 

Writing in all of your due dates at the beginning of the semester is pretty time consuming, but it can save you later on. It’s better to do this now when the workload is lighter and you have more time to devote to it.

This is especially important for classes with no set meeting time. The responsibility is fully on you to watch pre-recorded lectures and do work. I would recommend planning out a specific time to complete these classes because if not, it can be so easy to forget about the class and get behind. 

  1. Get Ready for the Day

It is so tempting to just stay in pajamas simply because you can. Last semester I often woke up a few minutes before a zoom meeting and even if I managed to get to my desk, I was not at all in the mood for class. 

Changing into real clothes and getting ready as if the class was in person can make you feel some sense of normalcy. This also makes you more likely to participate and puts you in the right headspace to work and learn.

  1. Keep a Routine 

According to, waking up at the same time every day can make it easier to fall asleep, leading to sharper focus and less irritability. 

For me, this is the hardest pill to swallow because I love my sleep. But I have noticed that whenever I wake up earlier, I feel so productive the rest of the day. 

It’s also a good idea to have a time period devoted to working during the day. I used to find myself going with the flow of the day, but it did not feel productive and I would often just feel like laying around because there was no structure in my day. 

I hope you can incorporate these tips into your online school routine, and feel free to comment with any tips for success that you have this semester!

Featured Image by Rachael Gerron

Written by: paigegreene07

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