A lot of people have asked me whether going to college online was difficult and many of them think about taking online classes themselves because of how convenient it can be. I obtained my entire Psychology degree online and it was an amazing experience that I really enjoyed. Today I wanted to share with you guys my tips for taking online classes. This is just a list of things that you should know if you’re interested in going to college online or if you just need some tips for taking online classes. There are some important things that you should be aware of so I figured I would share some things that I wish I knew before taking online classes.
Firstly, make sure to apply for your financial aid at least 3 months before you start your classes.
I say this mainly because sometimes it can take awhile for them to receive the information back. Also if you need to apply for a student loan to get your books, it can also take awhile to receive the loan.
Buy books through your college’s website if you need them.
With my college, I was able to use some of my student loan money to buy books through the college’s Barnes & Noble store. Luckily the college I went to is in the same state that I live… so I would receive my books within a day or 2. I didn’t have extra money to buy books with on my own so I was glad that I was able to use my student loan money to buy books through the college’s bookstore. I don’t know if all online colleges are like mine, but they only allowed me to buy through their connected bookstore since I couldn’t receive my refund check until after 3 weeks of me attending my classes.
Sign up for classes at least 1-2 months in advance.
Sometimes I would wait and the classes I wanted to take would be filled up. So I would have to take them the next semester.
Plan your classes in advance.
So one of the things that I am glad that I did was I wrote down in a notebook the way that I would take my classes for about 2 years. I did this 2 years into obtaining my degree, but I wish I would have did it when I first started taking classes online. It’s good to know what classes you plan on scheduling so you know how your schedule will go. It’s also great because you can plan ahead for a class that you think might be hard while also having an easier class to balance out your GPA.
Don’t take too many classes at once.
So one year I made the mistake of taking 3 classes at once that started and ended at the same time. I was so stressed out because it was a lot to keep up with and stay on top of. In my opinion, I think that you should take 2 classes at the most at once.
Understand how your college sets up online courses.
For the first 3 years of taking online classes, each class was 6 weeks long and I would try to take 4 classes every semester. So for example 2 of my classes would start the second week of March and then those 2 would be over the 3rd or last week of April. Then my next 2 classes would start the same week my last 2 classes ended. Eventually they changed the way the classes ran in my last year to them being 8 weeks long with a 1 week break in between the start of new classes. I am not sure how the college does things now, but it is important to pay attention to the dates of when your classes are scheduled to start so that you don’t forget. I know my college sent out an email a week before the class started as a reminder, but you should make a note of it in the calendar of your phone maybe 3 days before and then the day of so you know when your class starts.
Get familiar with Blackboard.
Most schools use Blackboard to run their online classes. Play around with it and look around. Familiarize yourself with Blackboard and analyze the way things are setup so that you can become comfortable with using the website.
Read each class syllabus and homework schedule so you know when things are due when you first start the class.
When you start a class, the professor will have a syllabus and a homework schedule posted.. At my school, it showed a list of assignments for the 6 or 8 weeks my class ran and when they were due. It also told me how participation points were evaluated or how often I needed to participate. At one point I thought that all of my classes operated the same way as far as participation and schedules. For example, most of my classes would have an assignment due Saturday, Monday, and Wednesday. However, some classes would have assignments due on Thursday, Sundays, and Tuesdays. It is important to not assume and to check out your homework schedule. I remember in one of my classes I was so used to the assignment schedule that I assumed that everything would be on the same schedule, but it wasn’t and I missed out on points because I didn’t pay attention.
See what assignments are due at the start of the new week so you know what you need to work on.
New weeks would always start Thursday so that was when I would check to see on what things were due. Sometimes the teachers would post the details of the assignment early on Wednesday which helped me plan ahead or start to work on things earlier.
Don’t wait until the day of or day before an assignment is due to ask a question about an assignment if you don’t understand something.
This is why you need to analyze what assignments are due because there maybe something that you don’t understand that you need to ask about. If you wait too long to ask a question, you might not get an answer until much later which could be problematic if your assignment is due earlier in the week.
Read all of the instructions for assignments!!
It is EXTREMELY important to read what the assignment involves and what the assignment NEEDS to have when you submit it in. At Baker, what they would do is the teacher would write what you had to do in an assignment and how they wanted it, but there was also a file that you could look at to see how they would actually grade the assignment and how many point would be distributed for each important detail needed to complete the assignment. There were so many times when I would not really pay attention to the way the assignment would be graded and I would be upset about my grade even though I didn’t look at the file. So if your college does this, look at the file so you know what you need to focus on. I would have had straight A’s if I had paid attention to it. I honestly didn’t start looking at those files until my last year of college. So don’t be like me.
There are online tutors that can help you.
My college offered online tutors that could assist with subjects. If you needed one, you could sign up for one and it was included in your college tuition so it doesn’t cost extra money.
There is also essay assistance that you can take advantage of if you need help with setting up your essay.
Another thing my online college offered was essay assistance where someone could review my essay and tell me what I needed to work on or change before an assignment is due. If you use this, it would be ideal to have someone check out your essay at least 3 days before the assignment is due.
Educational videos on Youtube are wonderful.
In most of my classes we would watch videos which were great visuals and a lot of times they could be used as references too.
TedTalks videos can be a great reference as well for assignments sometimes.
I used TedTalks videos as credible references a lot since many of my teachers found them to be beneficial and some of them even taught their classes through the application of TedTalks videos too.
Digital copies of a book can be much better than textbook copies sometimes.
If your school allows you to rent textbooks digitally, then you should. You’ll save yourself some money and you can easily access the book on your laptop or tablet. Digital textbooks also make it much easier to search for keyword terms which means less time looking for information to complete an assignment.
A lot of answers from quizzes and tests can be found on Quizlet through a quick search on Google.
If you are having trouble with coming up with an answer for something, you potentially might be able to find the answer online somewhere and usually it’ll be on Quizlet (especially if it is Science or US History related).
It is better to have a plan and to take initiative when working on a group project so that you don’t receive a failing grade.
When you have a group project, don’t wait for someone else to speak up on getting things done. I feel like in the few group projects I did, I had to initiate the way things were going to go in the group because many people didn’t want to speak up. The professor is able to see the interactions that you have with your group members on Blackboard so be active, engage with them, and participate in the assignment so that you can receive a decent great.
When you respond to a professor’s question when you participate in class discussions on Blackboard (or whatever school forum board), using at least one credible reference along with your response tends to get you the full participation points.
Some teachers won’t give you the full points if you don’t reference something.
Make sure to participate regularly!
Participation points can GREATLY affect your grade. In all of my classes, participation was probably 20-30% of my grade. In every class I had to engage at least 5 times a week and make at least 2 responses on those 5 days I engaged.
Complete long essays over the course of a days and not in one night.
So don’t do what I did. I literally would know about a final assignment 3 weeks in advance and I would wait until the day of to work on it. I remember I wrote this 10 page essay for one class in 7 hours. Plan ahead and don’t wait until the last minute to complete the assignments.
So these next few things are just tips for taking online classes in relation to things to take advantage of when going to college online.
Take advantage of online discounts since you’re a student.
I really wish I would have took advantage of saving money and using my student discount online. If you go to school online, try to use the student discounts that you have available to you online as much as possible. You can save money on laptops, clothes, and all types of stuff.
Get an Amazon Prime student membership.
Use your edu email and sign up for Amazon Prime with it. You can start a free trial for Amazon Prime and it lasts for 6 months.
Take advantage of the college’s job board.
Most online colleges have a job board and you can check it out while you’re in school as well as once you graduate. Don’t forget about it.
So this concludes my tips for taking online classes. I hope that you guys found this beneficial and if you did, SHARE IT ON SOCIAL MEDIA! I’d really appreciate it!
Also read my other blog posts!
Is College Worth it? 10 Benefits to Get a College Degree
6 Things I Learned When I Went to College Online
8 Reasons to Not Go to College