Welcome to 2020, the land of online classes and skyrocketing stress! Ok, so this is less than ideal for most people. I totally understand how you’re feeling because I’m starting nursing school online and if learning how to put in an IV via zoom doesn’t scare you then you probably don’t need to read this post! While labs and clinicals are a whole other thing, I have actually preferred online classes for my pre-requisites and previous classes whenever possible. Thus, I’ve become a self-proclaimed expert in online learning. Today I wanted to share online learning tips for college students.
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Online Learning Tips for College Students
Online classes definitely have their pros and cons. These online learning tips will help you be successful in your classes!
1. Set up a Working Space (That’s Not Your Bed or Your Couch)
As comfortable as your bed or couch probably is, it’s not the ideal space to get focused and ready to learn. Don’t mix your chill space and your workspace! Set up an area where you’re sitting up and have a table to work at. Maybe that’s your kitchen table or a desk that you’re going to be using for school. Every time you go to do school work, use this area (or a similar one) so that you can be more focused and ready to learn. You’re also probably not going to be falling asleep during that 2-hour zoom lecture when you’re sitting at a desk/table (if you’re tempted on your bed!).
2. Remove Distractions
If there are a ton of distractions around you then it’s going to be hard to focus. You are going to know what distractions affect you personally. If you’re someone who can’t focus if your area is a mess, make sure to clean before class. Or, if you’re someone who reaches for your phone every 3 seconds, make sure to put your phone in another room or turn it off. By eliminating distractions, you’re going to be more successful as you sit down to work, do homework, or attend class.
3. Prepare Ahead of [Virtual] Class
Complete the required reading and make sure you’ve done your assignments. By preparing ahead of the class, what you learn will be cemented in your mind and you will also feel less lost (if your class is hard or fast-paced). Also to prepare, make sure everything is organized and you have everything you need.
4. Wear Blue-Light Blocking Glasses
I’ve raved about blue-light blocking glasses tons of times before on my blog. If you’re spending a lot of time looking at screens, these glasses will reduce headaches and eye-strain. I also personally feel like I’m more focused when I’m wearing my blue-light glasses.
Blue light is also disruptive to your sleep. If you’re completing classwork (or even just want to hang out on your computer or phone) before bed, your circadian rhythm isn’t going to be disrupted.
For the blue light glasses, I wear, check out these ones on Amazon!
5. Take Notes to Stay Focused
If you’re nodding off during class or just getting bored, take notes. Notes will help you to retain more information, especially if you are a kinesthetic learner.
6. Be Present
To be successful in your class and actually learn, you need to treat it like a real class and take is seriously. Even if you didn’t choose to take your class online, be present! Make sure you’re actually reading what you need to read, and listening in lecture. If you’re skipping over the work or looking to Quizlet for all the answers, you’re not going to actually learn anything. So when it’s time to sit down for class, be present and treat it like you would an in-person class.
7. Have Set Meal and Break Times
If you have set break times during studying or doing schoolwork, you won’t be tempted to get distracted or procrastinate and spend an hour on your phone. If you’re doing work for hours on end, without a break or meals, you’re going to burn yourself out. There has been a lot of research on the appropriate amount of time to work before taking breaks and the ideal amount of time to take a break for. If you’re studying in 1 hour intervals, take a 10 minute break every 50 minutes. During meal times, take even longer so that you can actually step away and eat your meals, rather than working through them.
8. Set a Schedule and Write Down Your Deadlines
With online classes, time management is very important. Find the ideal way to manage your time and deadlines during this time. For me, I write down all my due dates in a planner for every class that I can easily refer to. I also write down my class times and any other appointments that I have. At the beginning of each week, I will review my deadlines and write them all down on one list and what day they are due. That way I know what to focus my energy on and once I complete an assignment I can move on to the next.
9. Reach Out for Help if You Need it
If you are struggling to learn the concept because of the format that you are learning, find other resources. Youtube has great videos explaining almost every subject. Your professor may also have office hours that you can attend (in-person or virtually) and tutoring centers at colleges also usually have virtual options.
10. Find Out Your Learning Style
If you don’t know your learning style, take this test to find out! If you know your learning style you’re able to study and learn concepts more effectively. Focus your efforts of learning depending on what your learning style is. If you’re a visual learner, then listening to a podcast might get you lost. Likewise, if you’re a kinesthetic learner, sitting and watching a video might not be helpful for you. Everyone learns differently and if you want to save yourself the stress of studying in a way that just doesn’t cut it for you, make sure you know your learning style.
I am a highly visual learner rather than a kinesthetic learner. Hands on practice is the worst way for me to learn!
Thanks for reading and I hope some of these online learning tips have been helpful for this upcoming year. If you have any more tips, be sure to add them in the comments below!