10 Ways to Succeed in Online Classes


Students on campus are staying safe wearing masks, but also maintaining distance by taking online classes; Photo Courtesy of: moravian.edu/fall-2020

Having trouble dealing with online classes? If you’re anything like me, it can be hard to focus when you’re not physically in the classroom. I won’t lie, since going online last semester, I find myself wanting to check my phone more often or working on other homework assignments while I am listening to my professors, and sometimes completely missing out on what the task at hand is. 

Here are some tips that I have found that have helped me focus better while in online classes.

1. Getting up out of bed and forcing myself to sit at my desk for class

I know what you’re thinking. Why would I sit at a cramped desk, hunched over in an uncomfortable chair for an hour or two when I can sit in my comfortable bed? Let’s be honest, sitting in a warm, cozy bed makes me want to fall back to sleep and it is distracting. So get up!!

2. Dress for success

I know, I know. Another thing that makes us seem like functioning adults? Getting up a little bit early every day and picking out a cute and comfy outfit makes me feel like I’m prepared for the day. Now, whether your productivity changes with the type of clothing you wear, depends on you. If you can sit down and write 10 pages of notes in sweatpants, do it. I have to be dressed and presentable to be able to focus, so do what works for you. 

3. Plan, plan, plan!

Get a planner or a calendar and make lists of what you need to do for classes, and don’t just rely on your memory. You can’t remember every little thing you need to do for each class. What better way to feel accomplished and prepared for class than to be able to check off everything you have completed for the day?

4. Keep in contact with your professors and advisors

Contrary to popular belief on a college campus, your professors and advisors are here to help you, now more than ever. If you feel like you don’t understand what is expected of you or you just need to talk over assignments, don’t be afraid to send them an email or ask if you can meet them via Zoom. They are trying to understand the kind of stress we are under and many of them have children dealing with what you are going through. It is more important now than ever to have a good relationship with your professors. 

5. Manage your time wisely

This is a hard one for me to do if I am not forced to physically go to a class. I procrastinate and then scramble just before my Zoom call to finish my readings last minute. Set time aside to sit down and do your work ahead of time and make sure you know your deadlines!

6. Participate — don’t just be present in class

Make sure the professor knows you’re actively listening and engage in the discussion before you. I’m usually quiet in my classes and listen to everyone else’s ideas, but now more than ever is your participation necessary. It will not only show the professor that you are prepared, but it also makes them feel more confident about remote learning. 

7. Keep your learning space clean and organized

I hate clutter. Loath it, actually. I can’t focus to save my life if there are random pieces of paper or pencil eraser shavings everywhere. Keep your desk clean and free from distractions.

8. Close your door and use earbuds or headphones for Zoom calls

I live in a Hillside with all of my friends and we are nowhere near quiet. We love talking and having fun, but now since we have to stay away from each other, we tend to yell from room to room to have conversations. Use your earbuds to drown out the rest of the noise from your house or dorm by using earbuds to fully focus on your professor and class time. 

9. Take screen breaks  

Many of us have been working remotely since March and even into the summer with summer courses, constantly researching and studying online. Throughout the day, take 10-15 minutes breaks from your screens and rest your eyes. We should not be straining our eyes, day after day, because it can worsen your eyesight. Whether you go for a walk or just close your laptop, taking those breaks can help reduce headaches, dry eyes, and will help you sleep better at night. 

10. Take time for yourself

This is a strange and eventful world we are living in. It feels like there is something new in the media every day, and you might start to feel the pressures of school and everyday life weighing on you. It is okay to take some time for yourself, whether it’s watching a movie, knitting, or taking a nap — you need to give your mind and body a break during these stressful times.