By Nick Schmitt
DePaul University recently announced that all spring courses will be held online, due to the Coronavirus outbreak. Online classes grant us a lot of flexibility to learn when, where and how we want. And while they can help us balance school with our professional and personal lives, they can also create their own challenges.
As a student at the Kellstadt Graduate School of Business, I’ve taken a few online courses during my time here. Each experience gave me a little more insight into how to do well in this unique learning format. Here are a few tips to help you prepare and excel in your online courses:
Manage your time wisely
Without a set time and place for class, it can be easy to push off required assignments and readings. Setting aside a window of time each week to go through your lecture and readings is essential to keep pace in an online format. Utilize your calendar apps and take advantage of reminder functions on your phone to stay on top of your schedule. I found it handy in my online classes to set regular deadlines to accomplish my weekly tasks. This works great for significant papers and group projects, too. Tackle a little bit every week to make those big assignments more manageable. After the first week or so you’ll find a strategy that works best for you.
Create a workspace
In our busy lives we’re inundated with distractions, so it’s important to have a workspace specifically for your studies. As tempting as it is to have the TV playing in the background, you’ll need a place where you can concentrate and condition yourself to stay on task. A quiet area free from interruptions is ideal. A home office is great to separate yourself from family/friends and signal to them it’s time for you to hit the books. If you choose a library or café, make sure you have access to a power outlet and reliable internet.
Use your resources
Treat your online class just as you would a traditional class. It’s still critical to take notes on lectures and readings to help you learn the material. You don’t want to be wasting time searching through a lecture video for details on a concept you can’t fully grasp. Notes can be a valuable resource to review and help you prepare for assignments/exams. Also, don’t be afraid to ask your professor and classmates for help or guidance. With the isolation of an online class it’s common to forget they’re there for advice.
Take time off
The flexibility of online courses can be a double-edged sword. It can be tempting to get ahead if you have some free time. Resist the urge and take those moments to relax. Just as you set aside time to accomplish class responsibilities, schedule moments when you can push anxiety and stress to the back burner. Taking these intermittent breaks allows the brain to process class concepts and recharge.
Nick Schmitt is pursuing his MBA at the Kellstadt Graduate School of Business with a focus on marketing. He was a graduate assistant in DePaul’s Marketing Department and a founding member of its Marketing Leaders Community. Schmitt earned a BA in journalism and mass communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is currently an intern at Constellation Brands.