Taking online classes offers you the flexibility you need when juggling school, work and family. But without the structure of a classroom or daily face-to-face contact with professors and classmates, finishing assignments and nailing good grades can be a challenge.
At PACS, we want to make sure you’re as prepared as possible. That’s why we reached out to real PACS students to find out what study skills you need be a successful online student.
Here’s what they suggested.
Five Skills for Online Students
Create a Good Study Environment
When you’re taking online classes, all of your study time is spent outside the classroom. A neat, clean space is imperative. Find a quiet place free from distractions to study and complete assignments. When you’re there, you’ll know it’s time to get to work.
Manage Your Time
Time management is essential when you’re trying to balance study time with other commitments. In fact, this was the number one priority among PACS students when asked what study skills were most helpful to them. Since there are no set times for classes, students can run into trouble if they procrastinate or can’t get things done independently.
“Don’t save everything for the weekend. Do a little throughout the week, and, most importantly, know you can do it.”
Cindy J. Martin, a PACS student, suggests setting aside designated blocks of time for schoolwork.
“Thirty minutes here and there can get little tasks accomplished, but bigger value is in the larger blocks of time, three to four hours in one setting, for me,” Martin said.
PACS student Dylan Wilson said planning ahead is worth it for the stress prevention.
“Make a specific academic calendar each semester, and plan out your assignments,” Wilson said. “This way you don’t get behind and, most of the time, you can complete assignments early.”
Actively Participate in the Learning Process
Be an active learner by reading all class materials, doing your research and communicating with professors and classmates. PACS students suggest reading all the assigned materials and keeping all assignments and coursework.
“Read everything that’s assigned,” said Heather Morris-Converse. “Don’t think you can complete quizzes or papers without reading the material.”
Jennifer Porter said she keeps folders for each unit and puts all assignment files in a designated folder.
“I also edit every post, response and paper using Grammarly. First, I write down what I’m wanting to say. Then, I edit it with Grammarly. Then, I sit on it for a couple of hours before re-reading it and doing a final edit,” Porter said. “One other thing is, I try to make sure I follow all the instructions as to using references on posts and papers and include all the assigned details the instructor has given.”
Connect with Others
Make an effort to reach out and communicate with fellow classmates. Even though you don’t see them in person on a daily basis, it’s still possible to build relationships and network in an online community.
Building a strong support system with classmates can keep you engaged and motivated. Knowing there are other students out there with similar experiences can help you feel like part of a community.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions or interact in online forums. Likely, there are classmates out there who can offer you informed insight and suggestions. When you’re engaging with others, you’ll get the most benefit from your online courses.
Communicate with Professors
If an assignment is unclear, or if you don’t understand something, ask questions. Failing to get your questions answered is a sure way to fall behind. Your instructors want you to succeed, and they’ll help you if you ask.
Morris-Converse said most students think being an online learner is harder than it actually is. Incorporating these skills and being confident in your abilities can ease some of that anxiety.
“If you’re returning to school after a long break like I did (20 years), then you’re probably imagining it’s way worse than it is,” she said. “Don’t save everything for the weekend. Do a little throughout the week, and, most importantly, know you can do it.”