Attending Remote Classes: 5 Tips to Help You Thrive

Completing college courses online is a different experience than attending in-person class sessions. While the curriculum is largely the same, you’ll need to take extra measures to exercise self-discipline, make an effort to connect with classmates and professors, and stay accountable to your schedule. But overall, it can be an incredibly rewarding experience that teaches you to communicate in new ways and better manage your time.

You can use a number of strategies to increase your productivity and succeed in your coursework. Whether you’re new to remote classes or you’ve been taking online courses for a while, here are five tips that can help enhance your online class experience.

1. Create a Schedule Around Your Peak Hours

Many of your remote classes provide the option to create a more flexible schedule than you would have while attending in-person classes at scheduled times. This can be both a benefit and a challenge that requires an extra dose of self-discipline.

While you’re settling into a new remote routine, create a realistic schedule that gives you plenty of space for coursework and personal time. This is also the time to identify your peak hours of productivity. Are you more alert and energetic after breakfast? Or do you feel you work best in the afternoon?

Use these cues to create an optimal schedule so that you can work on your hardest tasks during your peak productivity hours. This way, you can plan a break (or work on easier assignments) during other times. Whatever your preference, tailor your approach accordingly.

2. Use Small Chunks of Time to Your Advantage

Each class will require a certain amount of time every week to complete your assigned coursework, in addition to study time. However, there may be several tasks you can do in your downtime to help you manage the load.

For example, if you’re waiting for a video call from a friend, use the 10-20 minutes you’ve got before the call to actively participate in class discussion forums or complete a chapter of your assigned reading. Compartmentalizing portions of your day can help you stay ahead in your schoolwork and still find time for all the things you enjoy. The trick is to get creative and always keep your goals in mind!

3. Break Bigger Tasks Into Smaller Bites

Just as you can break down your day to find the best times for productivity, you can break down your tasks to make them more digestible. Don’t get overwhelmed if you’re assigned a large project or essay. Instead, divide the task into manageable “mini-goals” with realistic deadlines. For example, if you have a research paper due on May 1, you might assign yourself smaller duties such as:

  • Brainstorm topic ideas by March 31
  • Start research and take thorough notes by April 5
  • Make a detailed outline by April 10
  • Complete your rough draft by April 15

Breaking up your coursework into smaller, easily manageable chunks can help you stay on top of everything so you can conquer school and still enjoy your free time. The key is avoiding the temptation to procrastinate; creating (and sticking to) a timeline can be a huge benefit to your productivity.

4. Know Your Resources

Just because you’re attending remote classes doesn’t mean you’re on your own! For instance, Azusa Pacific University has many resources available to students who are learning remotely.

You can make online appointments with the Writing Center to get help with reviewing and revising any writing projects. Also, APU’s University Libraries offer access to a wealth of online journals and databases, as well as subject specialists who can help you find resources needed to take your research paper to the next level. Finally, don’t forget that your professors are available to help you throughout the semester, so don’t be afraid to reach out to them.

5. Understand What Kind of Learner You Are

With a change from in-person classes to remote classes, you’ll have a more independent, self-paced learning environment. Use that to your advantage and adapt your online courses to your learning style; it’s important to approach the process in a way that works best for you.

If you learn best by writing notes by hand, then continue to do so, even though everything can be accessed through the computer. It might also be helpful to print out your syllabus and assignment instructions so that you can attach the hard copies to your fridge or bulletin board. If you do better listening to instructions, but your online course is mostly text-based, you can copy and paste the text into Google’s text-to-speech tool so you can hear it read aloud.

Anyone can thrive in an online class, but you might need to give yourself a little grace in the beginning as you get comfortable with a different format. This is totally normal! Stay on top of your studies and don’t hesitate to reach out for help if you need it.