How To Survive Online Classes (and maintain a 4.0 GPA), Part 2

Told you, I have more to share. If you haven’t read Part 1, I shared my first five tips on how to survive online classes this semester.

 

So here’s to the second and last wave, let’s just jump right into it.

1. ASK FOR HELP: EMAIL PROFESSORS, COLLABORATE WITH CLASSMATES OR FRIENDS WHO KNOW THE SUBJECT WELL.

There’s nothing more challenging than being presented with information you know nothing about or are having a hard time understanding, or even just grasping the concept. When you run into this roadblock, don’t hesitate to email your professors. They know everything you need to know to pass their class.

Just like on campus, professors truly enjoy it when students take advantage of office hours. But as a student, this is also something I highly recommend you take advantage of. Why? Because:

  • It shows your professor that you’re serious about their class.

  • You’re trying to make a name out of yourself, let them know that you matter and not just a number on their class roster.

  • Professors always know more than you about the subject they are teaching you. They may add a challenge question on the exam only you know the answer to because you sought help and understanding during office hours (it's happened to me!).

TODO: Ask for help, they don’t bite (especially online). Email them until you get an answer, but don’t spam.

I also mentioned collaborating with classmates. I know it’s challenging to do that especially online, but from experience, I can actually tell you that at least one of them will answer.

TODO: Email/IM classmates the same question and hope for the best someone answers.

But I get it, you don’t want to depend on people you don’t even personally know to respond to an email. I mean, I take years to respond to a text, so why would I think someone would respond to my email, right?

TODO: Ask a friend.

Do you know anyone who knows the subject you’re studying fairly well? Ask them. Friends love extending their knowledge to others. It benefits you, but it benefits them too because one of the best ways to learn is by teaching.

2. IF YOU WANT AN “A”, PUT IN THE WORK. IF YOU WANT A “C”, THEN, DON'T.

Before the semester even began, I already set my mind to getting an A in all of my classes. I know, brave.

If I’m being truthful though, there have been times around the middle of the semester where I start to lower my standards because I’m feeling a little too overwhelmed. I just wanted to put in OK effort until I realized that OK efforts don't usually yield A’s.

TODO: Don’t lower your standards. Don’t change your goal. You can get an “A”.

3. DO THE DISCUSSIONS EVEN IF THEY ARE DRY AND PAINFUL.

Depending on the professor in your online class, discussions either count as participation or part of your grade or a majority of your grade.

Last semester, I got roasted by my professor on my discussions and I was convinced that those discussions were worth so much more than I thought because of the way he challenged my answers. Little did I know, it was solely for participation which counted a lot towards my grade.

Had I decided to not do the discussions and only relied on my exams, even if I had just done well in every exam, I still wouldn't have received an “A” in the class.

TODO: Do the discussions. They will only help you.

4. USE TURNITIN TO CHECK FOR PLAGIARISM BEFORE SUBMITTING WORK (ESPECIALLY RESEARCH PAPERS & ESSAYS)

Usually, universities and community colleges do a great job advising you to set up a Turnitin account before the papers start rolling. My University, in particular, provided me a code to specifically register for the class roster on TurnItIn so that professors are able to check my work for plagiarism.

It is extremely important to submit a paper that doesn't exceed 30% for plagiarism. To me, that percentage is a little steep, so I usually shoot for 15% or below. It is also a really good habit to check your work against a plagiarism database because some schools will result in expulsion if caught plagiarizing.

TODO: Always check your paper for plagiarism whether you were provided a code for the class roster or not.

5. TAKE BREAKS

Last, but not least - take breaks. Give yourself (especially your brain) a little time to recuperate. Stacking everything will only increase stress. I was really bad at taking breaks all throughout college until last semester. By not taking breaks, my anxiety heightened eventually leading me to basically forget everything I ever studied.

Mainly because of my anxiety, I made it a habit last semester to set a time window to take a break. I set my alarm for 10-30 minutes depending on the amount of information I needed to take in. With more information, I had myself taking 10-minute breaks after 30 minutes of studying with no distractions. With less information, I studied for 1 hour to 1 ½ hours with 30-minute breaks in between.

I used my breaks to do one or two of the following:

  • Pick one room in the apartment to clean

  • Take a drive

  • Walk at the park

  • Cooked/ordered food

  • Social Media

Once my time was up, I modified or immediately went back to my studies. As long as you have your priorities straight, creating this kind of schedule should only help you.

TODO: Take a break and remove yourself from your studies. Do something productive or unproductive, but always set a time limit.

And that’s it! I hope this two-part series has helped you or at least given you ideas to incorporate in your upcoming semester!