How to Stay Organized in Online College Courses (tips from an expert)

Yesterday was Labor Day, which means that it’s officially BACK TO SCHOOL SEASON everywhere! 

And you know what that means! …school supplies, new class schedules, and for many of us, online classes! 

Online classes can be tricky because they’re sooo convenient. However, they’re also sooo easy to fall behind in! Enter: Our secret weapon, Professor Myers! 

That’s right, today’s guest post is actually from an ONLINE PROFESSOR! Who better to give advice on how to keep it together this semester, right? She has some amazing tips (and a book with even more amazing tips) to share with us! Ready?! 😀

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Even college students who live on campus take online courses because they are convenient. You know, like you don’t have to get up at 6 am to get to a 7:30 class. But what many students don’t understand is that online college courses are not an easy way to get through a class that they aren’t necessarily looking forward to. 

Yes, they are convenient because you can “attend class” anywhere, anytime, but that doesn’t mean they are easy. The professors who teach online courses must teach the same amount of material in the same amount of time, so even if you don’t have to physically show up (dressed) for class, you do have to show up and do the work. 

Students new to online college courses often buy into the common myths that:

1| They will save time
2| They are self-paced
3| They are a breeze

Every college student needs ways of staying organized and keeping their stuff together, but for the online student, this is paramount to success (or just passing by the skin of your teeth.

Here are some ways I recommend you do that:

There’s an app for that—Students love apps, and they are a great way to keep organized and keep on top of things. I’ve gathered a bunch of the best ones for online students, including scheduling and grade trackers, as well as distraction-free writing tools and motivational apps that help you keep on-task and get stuff done. You can find these must-have apps here.

Schedule time—To avoid forgetting about reading and assignments, schedule time into your week to “attend class.” Online courses require you to read/watch/listen to lectures, post in discussion boards, read the textbook and complete assignments. Set up several hours at the same times each week—a couple of times each week—just like you would if you had to get dressed and show up in a particular classroom. This will help you keep on top of assignments and ensure you don’t forget about the class.

Print the syllabus and calendar—I know you may be thinking that since this is an online course you shouldn’t have to print anything. But, if there is one thing you will learn in an online course, it is that technology isn’t foolproof. Servers go down and students can’t access their class. Does your professor have a policy for how to deal with that? What should you be reading in the textbook to make sure you don’t fall behind while the class is unavailable? See what I mean? Semester classes move at the speed of lightening, and just a day or two of lost time can mean a great deal of stress trying to get caught back up! Printing a few pages is worth it!

Log in often—Check your class, even when there isn’t something due. This is important because things change. For example, there have been times when I have pushed back an assignment due date or eliminated some required reading because of unforeseen events. Logging in several times a week, even when you don’t need to, will make life much easier in the long run.

Want to learn more strategies for being successful in your online college courses? Check out my new book, Your Online College Course Survival Guide

You can learn more about it at http://onlinecollegecoursesurvivalguide.com.
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  Jacqueline Myers has been improving writing skills since the 1990’s and is still hard at work, struggling to put an end to comma splices and stamp out accidental plagiarism. 

She is an online college English professor and a freelance writer & editor, as well as the owner & writing expert at Nitty-Gritty English, a site dedicated to providing academic writing tips to the reluctant college writer. 

Have questions about college writing or online courses? She’s all about answering them. Send them to her at jsm@nittygrittyenglish or post them on the Nitty-Gritty English Facebook Page

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