1. Education

How to Succeed in Your Online Classes This Winter / Spring

A Month-by-Month Guide for January - April

By

If you’re planning on taking online classes at the start of the new year, this month-by-month schedule can help you plan your classes, get organized, and stay on top of the semester. Although the schedule can be used by anyone, it works best for students in online classes that follow a traditional semester system.

Use it to plan ahead and make this year the best yet.

Fall / Holiday Break
  • After reading through your online college’s degree requirements, call a counselor and discuss which courses to take next semester. Remember, some courses are only offered during certain semesters.
  • Register for your online classes. Print off a hard copy of your schedule and keep it for future reference.
  • Buy your textbooks in advance to get a good deal (don’t forget to consider return policies).
  • If your online college requires supervised testing, find a proctor or testing center near you.
  • Upgrade your computer. Your online college should list the hardware / software requirements on their website. Follow their guidelines to make sure you will be able to access your courses when school begins.
  • Make sure your financial aid or any tuition payment programs are in order.
January
  • Jump right in. Become an active member of your online college by participating in online discussions and emailing your professor with any questions.
  • After your first week, evaluate your online class schedule. Is your workload too challenging? Too light? Now is the time to make changes.
  • Drop any unwanted online classes by the required drop date to avoid having a “W” on your transcript.
  • Write down all of your long term assignments and exams in a planner.
  • Establish a regular study time, free of distractions and interruptions. Let your family members and work associates know when you will be unavailable.
February
  • Keep up the good work. Some students let their studies slip during the last weeks of February and the first of March. Don’t let that happen to you.
  • If you’re struggling in any of your online classes, talk with the instructor or a school counselor to seek solutions. Your online college may offer access to virtual tutors or you may need to seek outside assistance.
  • Study and take your mid-terms. These mid-semester exams can make up a big portion of your grade. Review your notes and know what the instructor expects before taking any test.
  • Begin your final papers. Many online classes require an essay to be submitted at the end of the semester. If you will have a paper due, start your research and outlining now.
  • Start thinking about next semester’s online classes. Winter semester courses are only a couple months away. Know what you are going to take and register as soon as you’re permitted.
March
  • Balance online college with other responsibilities. As students begin making summer plans, it can become difficult to balance assignments with family get-togethers and work obligations. Set aside extra time for your online class work and stick to a schedule.
  • Complete your final paper. If you have an essay due at the end of the semester, finish it in November to avoid last-minute stress.
  • Begin studying for finals. It’s only a few weeks before the semester ends. Begin reviewing your notes / reading assignments now.
April
  • Don’t stress. Unhealthy habits such as skipping sleep and eating poorly may hamper your performance on your finals. Studying is important, but remember to keep a healthy perspective.
  • Ace your last tests and turn in any semester papers.
  • Make sure you have the contact information for professors and peers you want to keep in touch with. School contacts can often evolve into worthwhile friendships or valuable business connections.
  • Begin preparing for the Fall semester (or the summer semester).
  • Relax. After a semester of hard work on your online classes, you deserve a break.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.