Tips for Going to School Online

man in blue shirt and glasses looking at a laptop and taking notes

Going to school online is no longer just an idea for the future, it’s the present.

Spurred by remote learning models put in place in 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, going to school online has now become a regular part of education. Especially for working adults who are continuing their educations by going back to school after some time off, going to school online is a critical piece to helping these students juggle work, family, and other commitments.

Ezra Kitchings

SDSU Global Campus Student Success Advisor Ezra Kitchings recommends finding ways to keep organized before going to school online.

By completing their studies online, college students are able to study when they can and from where they are, without having to commute to campus. In the case of online classes that are asynchronous (not held at a specific time), they also can study whenever they can.

But going to school online does present some unique challenges that should be taken into account. Online school is not for everyone, but if you take some steps to set yourself up for success, it can be very rewarding.

Ezra Kitchings, a Student Success Advisor at SDSU Global Campus, said students who will be studying online should identify a way to keep themselves organized.

“For me, that means everything goes into Google Calendar,” Kitchings said. “I show students how I utilized color coding, reminders, and event descriptions to keep track of when I would be in class, what assignments were coming up, and what readings I needed to do before each class. It can be a bit of work on the front end, but it pays off majorly in the long run.”

Here are four tips for going to school online that can help you be successful in your online studies.

1: Take Online School Seriously

It may go without saying, but approaching your online studies just like you would traditional in-person classes is important. It may be easy to dismiss online classes as being less important or demanding than traditional classes taught in person, but that would be a mistake. In many ways, going to school online requires even more self-discipline and focus than in traditional school. This brings us to point number 2 on our list.

2: Stay Organized and Focused

Since online students are not generally required to be in class at a specific location, date, and time for classes, it can be easy to fall out of a routine and behind on your studies. It helps to keep a calendar and commit to studying or taking your online classes and specific times so you don’t lose track of when you should be in school. Knowing that you are going to be focused on your studies during certain times can help you prepare for switching into “study mode” and be more intentional with your time.

3: Have a Dedicated Learning Environment

When juggling school, work, and family obligations, it can help to have a space dedicated to your online studies. Doing this can help you adjust to school time and not allow distractions to keep you from your online studies. Whether it’s a dedicated room in your home, a desk in a quiet area in a local library, or another space, having an area set aside for studying can go a long way toward supporting your online learning.

4: Take Breaks When Needed

Going to school online while holding down a job, family obligations, and other commitments can be a challenge, so taking breaks when needed is a must to help avoid burnout and stress. Even if it’s just a 15-minute walk around the neighborhood or a mediation session, taking breaks when you need to can help you stay healthy and focused so that your study time is more productive.

If you are enrolled in an online school or considering taking your classes online, consider taking these steps to help make sure you are as prepared as you can be to study online. Taking online classes can be challenging, but for many students, the rewards in terms of flexibility, affordability, and access to classes you couldn’t take in-person outweigh the challenges of studying online.