5 Quick Strategies for Adjusting to Being an Online College Student

5 Smart Moves to Help You Adjust to Your New Life as an Online Student

  • Set Up a Dedicated Workspace
  • Make a Schedule
  • Set Up Virtual Gatherings
  • Engage with Course Content
  • Talk to Professors

As colleges and universities across the world do their part to slow the spread of COVID-19, many are eliminating in-person instruction and moving to a remote-instruction model — which means that students need to adjust to being an online college student. This change marks a big transition for many students. By figuring out how to adjust quickly, it’s easier to succeed in college classes and help flatten the curve.

Related resource: Top 10 Online Universities You Can Start Anytime

1. Set Up a Dedicated Workspace

One of the most effective strategies for being an online college student is to set aside an area for work and study. While it might be tempting to take classes from the couch, this busy spot opens up students to too many distractions — namely, the television and other members of the household. For a more productive study session, choose a quiet location that’s away from the busiest areas of the house. Put a table and chair in a bedroom or use a home office, and when it’s time to work, shut the door to block out distractions. This strategy makes it easier to focus on the task at hand, whether it’s homework or a streaming lecture.

2. Make a Schedule

When adjusting to the online college student experience, many people find that the lack of structure leads to procrastination or overwork. To ensure that all of your work gets done on time, it’s helpful to make a schedule. Plan blocks of time for listening to lectures, participating in group discussions, and doing homework. That way, it’s easier to get into the right mindset — plus, it provides free time, TV time, and family time to look forward to. As you adjust to the new routine, expect to alter the schedule frequently to find the right structure.

3. Set Up Virtual Gatherings

While online instruction is a key way to flatten the curve, students should be prepared for the emotional effects. According to Science Magazine, social distancing can leave people feeling lonely and isolated. To help, students can make an effort to maintain their connections. Set up virtual study groups with other students using tools like Zoom, FaceTime, or Google Hangouts. Maintain a sense of connection by scheduling video chats with friends from school. The video component is crucial because it provides face-to-face interaction that builds bonds and relieves stress.

4. Engage with Course Content

One of the biggest challenges of online coursework is the lack of off-the-cuff discussions that happen in a classroom. To recreate this environment, many professors offer online discussion boards, Slack channels, or other collaboration tools. By taking advantage of all of the options on offer, students can add depth to the learning experience. Ask questions or simply respond to other students’ queries. Use visuals whenever possible — post a photo of a particularly tough math problem to ask for feedback on the work, or show a draft of a graphic design assignment. This takes the discussion beyond the written word and provides more context.

5. Talk to Professors

Just like students, professors were just as surprised and unprepared for the change to online classes. That means that while they’re dealing with the effects of social distancing, they’re also learning on the fly how to communicate course content. One of the most useful strategies for adjusting to online college is to reach out to the instructors. Ask for clarity, request supporting materials, or simply ask for suggestions on how best to study. This two-way communication enables professors to teach more effectively, so students can adjust in less time.

The rapid spread of COVID-19 means that many students will bid farewell to their college campuses for months on end. By incorporating the most effective strategies to help college students adjust to online instruction, it’s possible to get the most from each class.