Online college has lots of advantages. You work the classes around your schedule at home instead of being tied into driving to a class on a specified day and time. Many online colleges have compact semesters that fit a whole class into eight weeks or less, letting you finish your degree more quickly. I teach at an online college, and my students love the flexibility offered by the program.
Unfortunately, some students fall behind because they don’t know how to carve out class time in their busy lives. When they don’t have the structure of a set schedule, they procrastinate until it’s too late to get caught up. I try to intervene before this happens, but the ultimate responsibility lies with the learner.
Here are three ways to carve out study time for your online college class so you get your work done on time:
1) Designate certain days and times during which you’ll “attend” class. This means sitting in front of your computer and paying full attention to your classwork, just as you would in a traditional classroom. Turn off your cell phone and let your family know that you’re not to be disturbed. If they don’t respect your request, kindly but firmly remind them when they try to bother you. Many of my students are married, and their partners help distract the kids while they do schoolwork.
2) Create a timeline for the classwork. You should get a syllabus that shows which assignments are due each week. Typically, online classwork includes things like reading, answering study questions, participating in forum discussions, and doing papers or other written work.
Make your own checkpoints for each item. For example, you can plan to finish your reading by Tuesday, do the study questions on Wednesday, and turn in your paper on Friday. Having those goals will keep you on track so you don’t put everything off until the end of the week. I’ve helped my students make their timelines, and most instructors will do the same for you.
3) Notify your instructor immediately if an emergency comes up. Emergencies are inevitable, whether it’s a sudden deadline at work, a sick child, or an injury to yourself. While most classes impose penalties for late work, your instructor probably has latitude to waive them if you have a good reason.
I urge my students to contact me as soon as possible when they know they won’t make a deadline. When they do, I’m usually able to work something out so they can avoid losing points on the assignment. If your teacher gives you a revised deadline, be sure to meet it. Otherwise, you might not get any slack for future late work if you don’t take your commitments seriously.
Time management is a challenge for most people, but it’s all about being organized and creating a workable plan. Do this for your online classes and you’ll stay on track and be a success.