As COVID-19 spreads, colleges and universities throughout the country are increasingly boarding up their classrooms and moving courses online.
Given the CDC's recommendation to avoid gatherings of ten or more people over the next several months, your school will inevitably require professors to host their courses exclusively online.
Many students are already familiar with online college courses: Per the National Center for Education Statistics, approximately one-third of college students took at least one online class back in the fall of 2017, and the format has only become more prevalent since.
If the coronavirus has turned you into a temporary online student, you may be in for a bit of an adjustment. Some students find it difficult to follow lectures and discussions outside of a classroom setting, and the lack of direct human interaction takes time to get used to.
Here at TheBestSchools, we've been covering online college for a while. We know how the format works, what it takes to succeed in an online course, and how we can help you through this challenging time in your academic career.
Ultimately, you can do more than just survive your online classes. With a little planning, you can learn to use the tools of online learning to your advantage. Maybe you'll even perform better academically than you did before.
Make Online Education Work for You
Take advantage of recorded lectures
Online class sessions are delivered over video, and many professors make the stream (or at least an audio recording of it) available to students. This is a valuable resource for the wily student.
You can — and should! — take notes like normal, but you should also sketch a rough outline of what the professor covers in five- or ten-minute increments. That way, when it comes time to write a big paper or study for finals, you'll be able to quickly reference when your professor covered each bit of material, queue up the lecture, and find the professor's exact words.
Watch online classes at your convenience
Hate getting out of bed for that 8 AM course? Find it hard to focus during the hour before lunch? If your new online courses are asynchronous, you're in luck. Your newfound flexibility allows you to pick the time of day when you learn best and use those hours to watch lectures or participate in discussions.
Of course, this won't work for everyone: Some teachers will expect their students to log in at a particular time, and if that's the case, you'll need to adhere to that requirement. For everyone else, though, it's nice to attend class and do your homework when it works best for you.
Some of your professors already have experience teaching online, but many are doing this for the first time. There are some disadvantages to that — it's hard to lecture without a live audience if you aren't used to it, and there are some nuances, especially with synchronous courses, that make the job a little tricky.
But professors are conscientious by nature, and most of them want to do everything they can to make this a productive experience for students. Many will offer virtual office hours, and some professors will want to make themselves extra available during this difficult time. If you need help, online office hours are a fantastic resource, particularly if you can get one-on-one time. Come prepared with questions you need answered, and don't be too shy to ask for help.
Hopefully, these tips will help you excel in your newly online course. Want one more for the road? Keep an open mind: While online education will be a nuisance for some, many students find that it's a better delivery method for their academic needs and responsibilities. As you adjust to online classes, perhaps you'll find that it's right for you, too.