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Online classes: tips for success

May 31, 2016

Although online classes are different in format compared to traditional ones, that doesn't make them any easier. 

According to the MSU Department of Psychology, "taking an online class requires just as much time and effort as class on campus."

With a semester-worth of content compressed together into a measly month and a half, and without any physical lectures to attend, it can be easy to fall behind.

Here are some tips to help you get that illusive online 4.0:

Establish good communication with your professor:

With an online class, students don't have the luxury of seeing their professor every day. Try and shoot them a congenial email early on to establish contact. If your professor recognizes you, you're more likely to get responses quicker for any problems you might be having.

Learn what is expected of you in the course: 

Before you get underway in any class, make sure to find out the course plan and requirements which the professor has laid out for you. By knowing the parameters of the course, you'll be much more likely not to miss anything. 

"Staying on top of it is the number one key. Because I think with an online class it’s really easy to neglect it, cause it’s not like you have someone there, actively telling you what to do," neuroscience junior Susheela Sreedhar said.

Create a study schedule:

Now that you know what needs to be done, create a schedule to make sure it all gets finished on time. Letting missed assignments stack up or being unprepared for an exam can be detrimental to your grade, and setting aside structured time to get things finished will help you to accomplish tasks in a timely manner.

"I think for me, using a planner is really important," Sreedhar said. "That’s the only way I remember I have a homework set due or like I need to get this done, I need to get through that chapter — writing that down."

Lock in your study spot:

Finding a quiet place to get your work done will help you excel at your classes. If you are still on campus, the MSU library remains open throughout the summer. If not, look around your local area for a productive spot. Try your favorite coffee shop, or even your own bedroom. 

Stay persistent:

With such a large amount of work in a short period of time, online classes can become a little overwhelming. Make sure you keep moving forward and communicate with your professor if you run into any serious problems. 

"Use a step-wise process," neuroscience sophomore Yazeed Haddad said. "Small chunks that you can do. It’d be tough for your brain to say, 'Okay I need to do three chapters.' Just say I’m gonna do a half a chapter, go take a break and come back, (and then do) another half a chapter." 


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