It has been nearly a year since going fully online for school and in the meantime, I have picked up some very helpful tips. Here are eight tips to help with online college based some personal experiences:

1. Eliminate Distractions

Being able to focus is one of the biggest challenges I have found while being an online student.

Back in March, I began my online classes from home with people and animals constantly running around and being noisy. I could not focus one bit. I found that with the month that I was there I did no school work outside of actually attending classes; there was always something better to do. After I realized that I was far too distracted to succeed in school I made the decision to move back to Winona.

2. Limit Social Media

This one could be a segue off of eliminating distractions, but I chose to keep it separate because for college age students social media plays a huge role in our lives.

I always find myself passing the time between classes by scrolling through TikTok or Instagram. In that time I usually have other homework or studying to do before my classes, but because of social media those important things are put on the back burner or I tell myself, “I will only be on TikTok for ten minutes.” Then ten minutes turns into a whole hour and my homework gets done very rushed while my professor is taking attendance.

3. Find a “Class Spot”

Finding a good “class spot” is one of the more important tips.

Online courses can happen anywhere as long as you have internet connection; just last week a guy from my class did class from a car. It’s important to find a designated class spot that way just by being in that spot you will create a routine. And a bed, although it is comfortable, is not a good place to attend your class from. Unfortunately, my class spot is my bed and I often find myself slouching down lower and lower until I am almost laying down because that is comfortable, but then I get tired and lose focus. When you are looking for your class spot make sure you cannot be easily distracted and that it is a place where you can work.

4. Make a Schedule/Time Management

Set aside time to do your homework.

It is so easy to leave a Zoom class, close your laptop, and get it out of your mind, until you are scrambling to finish your assignment before class. I am not one to keep a planner or make a schedule, but ever since being online I have to or else I would go right back to not doing any work. I fall into the group of people that say, “I’ll do it later” and then next thing I know it is two in the morning and I still have papers to write before class the next day. By making a schedule you can plan out your days allowing you to study and do your schoolwork, have a job, and have a social life.

5. Attend Your Classes

College is full of late nights and early mornings.

One of the greatest things to me about online school is that I never need to leave my house for it, but for some reason because I don’t see my professor face-to-face I have this thought in the back of my head that class is less important, but that is wrong. It is still important to attend your classes. All of my professors record our Zoom sessions and post them online for the students that don’t attend class, but don’t let this be a trap. The difference with watching a recording of a class versus being in the class is that being in the class allows you to ask the questions you have when you have them. And from personal experience if I miss a class and tell the professor that I will watch the Zoom class I rarely ever do.

6. Have Your Camera on and be Present

Hold yourself accountable by having your camera on.

It is so easy to turn your camera off and lose interest. If the professor can’t see you then he or she won’t see if you are paying attention or if you are on your phone… or asleep. I have heard of many other online students say they wake up for class, shut off their camera, and go back to bed. I personally have never done this, but there were times I have thought about it. Being on camera shows your professor that you are engaged and ready to learn. I have been online for a few months now and know that the days I don’t have my camera on are the days that I don’t learn.

7. Interact with the Content

Going along with having your camera on take it a step further and talk.

Interact in class: if you know the answer say it or if you are shy type it in the message box. I am the kind of person to never say a single word in in-person classes unless the professor randomly calls on me. Now that I have been online I notice that I talk way more and because of that, I am paying attention more as I never want to say something that is irrelevant. By interacting with the content it not only makes you focus more, but it makes you look good to your professor.

8. Take Notes

It is so easy to sit in a Zoom class and not retain any of the information given.

By writing notes you are retaining the information better and it allows you to go back when studying and doing homework to find the correct answer. I will admit that I used to not be good at taking notes. I would buy a notebook for each of my classes and fill up a whole two pages of each. However, now that I do take notes I find that I understand the content better and just have an overall better grasp of my courses.

Paying attention and in return understanding the information is so rewarding. By following these eight steps you are well on your way to being a great college student while learning online over Zoom.