How to Make the Best of Your Online Classes

Make the Best of Your Online Classes Photo

For many students this school year, learning has shifted gears in a way that many did not expect. With the COVID-19 pandemic, UIC students have had to prioritize staying safe while continuing their education. The switch to online/hybrid schooling is a first for many students, but this doesn't mean you can't succeed.

Here are some tips to being successful while continuing online classes:

Create a personalized schedule to fit your needs.
Creating a schedule with all of your classes, work, and other responsibilities will help you block out time for other important tasks. Use your schedule to plan appointments with professors, schedule a work out, engage in other hobbies, or to simply relax. With many of us having to stay home all day to complete almost all of these tasks, finding time can be difficult. So, take out your schedule and get organized!

Designate your study area.
Finding a spot in your home to designate as your workplace is very important. Home is a comfortable place where many people come to from a long day of school or work to relax. However, with the current situation, home is now the headquarters of where we do everything. We now have to combine the things we do inside with the things that we did outside such as homework, learning, work, and relaxation. For many students, having a desk in your room can become a designated study area. However, the temptation to go back to bed can be there as well. Something I found that worked for me is going to a room that has no other distractions, like a bed, TV, or pets. Make sure that your room is well lit, clean, and cold. Having a room that is cold and has good lighting can influence you to stay alert and active while learning. In summary, find a place at home that you know will only be used for school or remote work.

Stay focused.
With your personal life and your school life now having to share the same space, staying focused can be difficult. The many distractions from our phone, family, pets, or other responsibilities are now invading what was once the time we had to focus on our school work. However, with the continuous improvements that technology gives us every day, we can now stay focused in a distracting environment. By simply enabling the “Do Not Disturb” function can be an effective way to stay off your phone while doing schoolwork, but for some this may not work. That is why apps such as “Stay Focused” or “Forest” were created to help those who find it difficult to stay concentrated. For instance, “Stay Focused’ helps to set a time limit on using apps like Facebook and Twitter. Similarly, “Forest” uses a timer system where the user sets the amount of time, they want to stay focused. While the timer is running, a tree or plant will grow, but if one exits the app then the plant or tree that was growing will wilt and not grow again. This is a good app for those who want to have sense of responsibility in the back of their head while studying. Although staying focused may be hard, remember to use your phone wisely and do your best to avoid distractions.

Continue talking to friends or classmates.
Even though Zoom lectures and discussions can get pretty awkward since no one is talking to each other face to face, this does not mean that continued communication between classmates and friends is not possible. The UIC class pages on Facebook is a great way to stay in touch with other people in the same grade. Using the discussion function on Blackboard, adding each other on social media, and finding other ways to communicate can help us feel connected. These strange times call for creative adaptations, and it’s up to us to make the best of it.

Keep an open mind.
I’m sure there have been many times when you have gotten frustrated because technology was not working or the class seemed more confusing than what it should be. Remember that you are not the only one experiencing this. According to an article from The Chronicle of Higher Education, 44% of U.S. universities are either fully online or primarily online. We, the students at UIC, are a small number of the many who are going through this strange time. Therefore, even with changing times, do not forget to stay positive and open minded, and remember that you are not alone!

Additional Resources:
LAS: Tips for Adjusting to Online Learning
Schedule Template created by Academic Center for Excellence (ACE)
Explore UIC tutoring specific for your course.
Explore all tutoring centers and services on campus.

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