Helpful tips for taking online courses


A photo of a student taking an online course. Online courses different than in person courses, and come with their own changes.  Photo by    Austin Distel    on    Unsplash

A photo of a student taking an online course. Online courses different than in person courses, and come with their own changes. Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

As the university adjusts to an all-online course format, students will have to reassess how they learn best. Though in-person classes are arguably more rigorous, online classes come with their own challenges, mainly in the form of organizational and time management problems. Now that you may find yourself back at home to complete the spring semester, here are some tips to stay on top of coursework. 

Find a workspace

The first thing you need to do to succeed in your online classes is create a dedicated workspace for yourself. You might need to clean some of the clutter off of your childhood desk or co-opt one of your siblings’ if your own room has been transformed since your high school days, but you need a place where you can concentrate on schoolwork. Create a schedule to post on your door so that your housemates know when you have lectures or meetings and won’t interrupt you. Don’t feel that you have to hide away at your desk all day though — feel free to come out of your space to read your textbooks on the couch or listen to a lecture on your family’s desktop, as long as these common areas are relatively quiet and you can focus. 

Schedule your time

You’ll want to check professors’ syllabi to make sure that no due dates or assignments have changed, but after you do this, you can plan for the rest of the semester — and it’s not that much longer, only five more weeks of classes after this one! Use a planner to schedule time to “attend” lectures, read textbooks and complete assignments. Stay on track and hold yourself accountable so that work gets done before it’s due. It’s definitely harder to not get distracted when you’re at home and you lack a regular study space like the library, but really push yourself to stay focused on tasks and set goals for what you want to accomplish each day. 

Actively participate

Stay engaged in your coursework by continuing to take good notes during online lectures. Interact with classmates on discussion boards or by texting, calling or teleconferencing with friends in your classes when you need help. Professors understand that this is a new situation for everyone, but they still want to see that you’re participating in the course and learning the material. They’ll appreciate any questions that you send their way because they want to interact with students and make sure you understand what’s going on. 

Stay motivated 

Most importantly, don’t slack off. It’s extremely easy now that all courses are online to give in to distractions and let your mind wander. Try to focus and continue to treat your courses as seriously as you would if they were still in-person. Nevertheless, there will be some difficulties and you will get frustrated. It’s a challenge for both professors and students, so try to be patient with yourself and others as everyone figures out this new format. 

For more tips on how to succeed in online coursework, students can visit UConn’s Academic Achievement Center.

Stephanie Santillo is a senior staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at

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