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15 Tips on How to Prepare for Online Classes

Welcome back, Patriots! It’s almost that time of the year again. New courses, new professors, and, wait – a brand new method of education? That’s right! If you’re like us, online courses are still fairly new to you. Last semester was hectic but there’s plenty of time to plan ahead this year. That is why the Senate Academics Committee put together 15 tips to prepare you for online classes.

  1. Check the syllabus — Some professors post the syllabi to their class on their college’s website, by taking a look at the syllabus you get a good idea of what you’ll be covering first in class.
  2. Prepare to be punctual — For on-campus instruction, being on time is crucial, now that we’re online it’s easier to slip up. Don’t let yourself be late to any appointments (physical or otherwise), be prepared to get to your virtual classes on time.
  3. Find a spot — With classes conducted over Zoom it’s up to you to decide what space will be your classroom, be it the basement, the living room, or wherever. Find a distraction-free place to connect to your classes.
  4. Adjust your settings — Take a while before classes start to get familiar with the medium you’ll connect to class with, find out what does what—how to share your screen, mute and unmute yourself, raise a question to the class. Will you be connected with video or audio only? All this is up to you to find, and you can do so before classes start.
  5. Get to know your professors — Reading a little into your professors’ backgrounds can give you a better idea of who they are and what they’ll bring to the class. Most professors have professional bios online, see who they and how their class relates.
  6. Form a study group(chat) — Not being on campus means not being able to congregate to study. But by keeping a group chat with some of your classmates you’ll be able to better prepare for (and keep up with) your course.
  7. Get ready to take notes — Note-taking is essential to retaining the information your class discusses, but what sort of notes are best for you? Do you prefer typed in a word document in another window or written down in a notebook? Figure out what’ll allow you to keep up with your professor and succeed in your online classes.
  8. Plan on planning ahead — Good organizational habits can take some time to fall into. If a planner or schedule helps you stay on track, then starting early is the best choice to keep up the habit and succeed when classes start.
  9. Have your books ready — By looking at syllabi and finding required textbooks you can place orders for textbooks early, but be cautious, some professors will provide advice on which books you really need and which ones are just helpful for reference.
  10. Get a good night’s sleep — Being well rested is crucial to success in any learning environment. Cultivating a reasonable sleep schedule (one that takes early classes into consideration) is one way to make sure that you arrive to class on time, and are fully prepared to participate and rise to the day’s challenges
  11. Eat a good meal — Your body needs fuel in order to learn, eating a healthy breakfast or lunch before coming to class means you’ll be able to stay more alert and be ready to participate in your online courses.
  12. Prepare to participate — Participation is essential in order to succeed in online courses; however, this new format may be disorienting to some. Come prepared to ask questions and be responsive in your online classes.
  13. Make mastery a focus — Online classes can make it tempting to just “check the boxes” of your course and do the minimum required, but this type of attitude does you no favors on the path to success. Instead, try and set goals that’ll allow you to really focus on mastering the material.
  14. Get your priorities straight —Which of your courses are most important to you? If you have a limited time, what assignments will you prioritize? These are questions that might come into play if you reach a point in the semester where you have to make tough choices with time management. By making a priorities list, you’ll be able to see which you should find yourself most occupied with, and where you’ll focus your effort.
  15. Wash, rinse, repeat — The key to success in an online (or partially online) semester is mastering your routine. Once you can find a routine that works for you, one that you feel comfortable with each week and gets results, then the key is going to be sticking with that routine as the semester goes on.