For most college students, picking classes for your first year of college or the next semester in your college journey can be either the most stressful time of the year or one of the most exciting. Either way, you'll have questions running through your mind the entire process. Which course has the best time slot? Is the commute the shortest distance from your dorm room? And especially, which classes count for your major so you can graduate on time?
With the arrival of social distancing and many universities changing classes from face-to-face to primarily online, some students find themselves stumped. They had not planned on taking online courses, and now, they have no choice. It is a massive game-changer in the course picking process. But one must never fear as overcoming hurdles and succeeding despite the odds is what we sororities women do best. Here are five do’s and don’ts to succeeding at online courses in the fall.
DO find out the professor's teaching style
While finding out whether a teacher’s method of teaching is compatible with your way of learning has been a concept long before online classes became the new normal, the thought process is a lot different in a digital landscape. Some professors are great at teaching when their students are all in the same room as them and said students would undoubtedly sing their praises. However, these same professors’ methods of education may not translate well in an online course. For instance, if they are lecture heavy and rarely create study guides for students, and you are a visual or methodical learner, you might struggle just a bit more than you would have otherwise. So, when asking for advice in regards to a professor, make sure you ask the right questions regarding study guides, lecture types, and how often they would give feedback to students back when face-to-face was the norm.
DON'T assume your classes will be easier
The first thing a lot of people believe when they take an online course is that it will be comparably easier than if it had been taken in a face-to-face setting. However, this is often far from the truth. This idea stems from summer courses, which are usually online and more accessible to take up less time than the average fall course would take to complete. Fall online courses are a completely different beast as they are often no different from their face-to-face counterparts. The test and homework schedules, workloads, and expectations all remain the same in fall, so treating them like any other course you would have taken is the best course of action.
DO get the digital copies of your textbooks
Buying textbooks can be the bane of every college students’ existence as they are often heavy, incredibly long, and expensive to boot. However, within this new college landscape we find ourselves in, do yourself a favor and get all the textbooks you can in their digital format. While physical books are great when you must study them during an in-person course, they can become a pain when both it and your computer are competing for your attention. The constant switching back and forth between to mediums can be hard on the eyes and make it harder to retain information. Digital textbooks take this issue away by having the ability to be on the same screen as your professor’s lecture or study guide at the same time. All it takes is looking from one side of the screen to the other, and most digital textbook companies have apps in which you can look at your textbook on your phone or even listen to it read aloud. If it is in any way possible to get your books digitally, definitely take the opportunity.
DON'T fail to keep track of assignment due dates and times
Probably one of, if not the most important tip on this list, is keeping track of due dates. This is where face-to-face and virtual classes differ the most. With online courses, you always must be aware of the time and date of when your assignments are due. Face-to-face classes have the benefit of being physical reminders of coursework that needs to be completed or tests that are approaching. Still, online courses require you to be even more accountable. The times at which they are due can range from 11:59pm to 4:00am or even the middle of the day at noon. It is up to the professor’s discretion. Tests and quizzes are also timed as well, often with less time available than an in-person class might have offered. Because of this, keeping a schedule and checking your school’s online course system is key to avoiding being only a minute late from submitting a paper or doing poorly on a test because of procrastination.
DO engage with your classmates and professor
In some classes, engagement is critical. Working in groups for projects, asking questions of the professor, and having discussions with your fellow classmates are staples of the curriculum. Often to many students’ surprise as well as dread, a lot of online classes are just as engagement heavy as their face-to-face counterparts. Discussion questions are frequently included as homework and some projects either require emailing classmates you have never seen in person or giving detailed feedback in a digital format. Some classes even include engagement in the total points for your course grade. With all this in mind, it is best to approach an online course with zeal and a desire to discuss the topic. While the discussion questions or digital projects can seem tedious or stressful, approaching them from a perspective of positivity and the opportunity to hear other students’ thoughts and opinions can be the most enriching mindset to have.
Xx, Christian Tippins
University of Central Florida, Kappa Alpha Theta