5 Helpful Tips for First-Time Online Students

Online learning has many benefits. It’s flexible, convenient, and offers students more choices in terms of the programs and instructors they can choose. However, there are some unique challenges that go along with online learning. It’s important to set yourself up for success so you can get the most out of your online classes. 

Here are 5 tips for first-time online students. 

1. Get Comfortable with the Tech Before Class Starts 

Before you start your first online class, it’s important to make sure you have all the hardware and software you’ll need. Check the requirements before you sign up and buy anything you need before you get started. 

You’ll also need a stable Internet connection. If your connection is spotty, it could cause problems and compromise your ability to do well in your class. 

Once you’re sure you have the tech in place for your classes, make sure you’re comfortable using it. Many software programs have tutorials you can use if you haven’t used them before, so take advantage of them. Technical difficulties can easily derail your learning, so try to sort as many of them out prior to your first class. 

2. Make a Study Plan & Set Goals 

Before your class starts, make a plan for when you will study. Once you have the syllabus, you can make more concrete plans and goals for getting your work done. As with any class, it doesn’t take long to fall behind if you miss a few assignments or fail to complete your reading.

Setting goals can be very helpful for managing your online coursework. Setting mini goals and larger goals will help you stay on track with the assignments and help you ensure that you’re learning everything you need from the class. 

3. Create a Distraction-Free Work Zone 

Being at home can be very, very distracting. It’s important to set up a distraction-free work zone for watching lectures and working on assignments. If you can, a room with a door is ideal. Try to ensure that your family members or roommates don’t interrupt you when you’re attending class or studying. If you don’t have a quiet room, some noise-canceling headphones might be necessary. 

Keeping your workspace clean can help you stay focused. When there’s clutter surrounding you, it can be really hard to get work done and stay productive! 

4. Stay Engaged 

It’s definitely easier to get into discussions with your classmates and ask questions in the physical classroom. However, it’s important to stay engaged in your classes and take part in the discussions that take place, whether they’re part of your grade or not. Learning to communicate in online classes is a skill you will build over time. 

You should also stay engaged with your instructor. Ask questions if you need help or you want more information. Be sure to respond to discussion questions and contribute to other collaborative group exercises the instructor initiates. This will help you get the most out of your class. If you feel the learning environment is unsafe, be sure to bring it up with the teacher. 

Don’t forget to take notes! If you treat your online class as if you were attending in person, you will stay more engaged throughout the process and end up being more successful in the class overall. You’ll also learn more than you will if you avoid discussions and do the bare minimum. 

5. Ensure Your Classes are a Priority

Because online classes are so convenient and more “hands-off” than in-person classes, it’s very easy to let your classes start to slip down the priority list. When you’re attending class from home, you’re more likely to put off your schoolwork or attend video sessions while multitasking. 

Take your education seriously, whether you’re attending in-person or online. You can still get the same quality education online as you can in the classroom, as long as you have a good teacher and you put in the work. Don’t diminish the importance of your classes, just because you can attend in your pajama bottoms! 

Online Education Can Set You Up for Success 

Taking your first online classes might seem daunting, but you just have to shift your mindset and your expectations for what classes should be. Once you learn how to engage with the class and manage the technical aspects of online learning, you’ll do just fine. Attending school online can help you learn in-demand skills, such as data analysis, which is applicable in many different fields.

Online education can help set you up for success in your future career. Whether you’re trying to finish your degree quickly or you need to take your time so you can fit classes around responsibilities like childcare or your job, getting your degree online is a smart and convenient option that will open up new opportunities. 

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