Staying focused when enrolled in an online class requires dedication and commitment. While there’s more freedom in terms of where you can join the online class (say, from your favorite coffee shop or a desk at home), how you study, and how you connect with your peers than in an on-campus class, there are some practical skills you can learn to help you stay diligent. Here are five tips for anyone about to take an online class this fall.
1. Communicate with loved ones and friends
One key to taking an online class effectively is to communicate with those who are supporting you. Let them know your schedule — that you always have the class in the morning on Wednesdays and Friday, for example. This helps them respect your schedule. They will know you are focusing during those times and that you are not available.
2. Create a distraction-free workspace
You can join the class or study at a coffee shop or a library, and that’s a great perk. However, it’s a good idea to also create a workspace in an office or at home. This might be a desk in a basement office or even a place in the kitchen, but the key is to make sure you won’t have any distractions around, such as a television or any side-projects you are doing.
3. Use a powerful laptop with plenty of RAM
Depending on your budget, making sure you have a powerful laptop with plenty of RAM can help you stay focused. That’s because the laptop (or a desktop, if you prefer) won’t slow you down or interfere with the class or your study habits. You will know the laptop will “just work” and not cause any problems like sudden crashes or slowdowns.
4. Plan your study times
An online class provides flexibility in terms of when and where you study, besides joining the actual class at a set time and day. This extra flexibility means you have to be diligent about setting a study schedule as well — say, every Friday afternoon. It’s a good idea to let your friends and family members know that this is a set study time as well.
5. Be flexible about your flexibility!
One last tip for anyone taking an online class is to enjoy the flexibility and allow yourself some freedom. That’s one of the most important advantages compared to an on-campus class. If you need to change your study day or even communicate with your professor about alternate plans on a given week, that’s OK — as long as you are aware of how this impacts your schedule.