If you’re earning your college degree as an online student, you may find that one of the most challenging aspects is staying organized. Every class, no matter the platform, requires your engagement, but when you don’t have the immediate support of the professor or other classmates, sometimes it’s easy to get off track. What can you do to give yourself the best chance for success?
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These 8 strategies will help you stay organized as an online student.
1. Organize your materials.
One way to keep your class materials organized is to use the same color notebook and folder per class and keep them with the coordinating textbooks. Store the log-in information in the front of each notebook along with the phone number and email address for the professor of that class. If you have any study buddies, list their email addresses and phone numbers, too.
2. Keep your syllabus within easy reach.
Keep a printed copy of the syllabus for each class in your color coordinated class folder. Use different color highlighters for different things. For example, use blue to highlight when papers are due, orange for exam days, and yellow for reading assignments. That way, things you have to do will always stand out.
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3. Make sure your computer is up-to-date.
Purchase flash drives in advance and make sure updates have been installed on your computer. In addition to ensuring that your computer meets tech specifications, check for software updates. Set your computer to back up your work often so your work will be safe. Use a combination of capital and lowercase letters as well as numbers and symbols when selecting passwords. It should make it harder for hackers to access your information.
4. Keep everything scheduled in advance.
Be sure to mark important dates—such as due dates, class meetings, or study sessions—on a calendar or in a planner. If an online calendar or a mobile application is more appealing to you than a planner, there are tons of options for you. Use Google calendar or search for a third party app. Be sure to schedule reminders for important dates and times.
5. Find other apps that will help you stay organized.
There are many apps out there that can help students. Dropbox is an online storage system that is useful for keeping files safe and can be installed on and accessed from any computer. iStudiez Pro is an online student planner available in 25+ languages and has cloud sync, grades, notifications, and an interactive calendar. Quizlet has six different study modes, such as Test, Flashcards, or Speller. You can create your own set of online flashcards or you can find hundreds of flashcards already created online for your various classes. You can also use flash drives to store your files, but be careful not to lose it or leave it behind.
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6. Choose a workspace that will help you be productive.
Your workspace should be quiet and clean, without any potential for distractions. If your bed calls to you when you should be studying, try going to a nearby library or coffee shop. Keep plenty of healthy snacks such as granola bars or fruit on hand, along with a water bottle in case you get hungry or thirsty.
7. Develop a support system.
Have support systems in place before your first class begins. If family or friends are involved, you stand a better chance of gaining those extra study hours you need. Maybe your children could take a free class at your local library and you could use the time to do your classwork while they have fun. Be creative and communicate your needs to your family so that you can work out a school schedule that permits you to prep for classes, complete online exams, and write papers in a timely manner.
8. Don’t procrastinate!
Procrastination can be a big enemy of online education. Staying ahead in your courses is important so you won’t be thrown off your game when emergencies pop up. You might get sick at an inopportune time, but if you are ahead in your classwork, it shouldn’t be too big of an interruption. Try to study and do your classwork at the same time each day. Begin with your hardest class first and leave the easiest for last.
Being an online college student is exciting. Whether you are ready to explore online programs for the first time or are in the middle of an online class right now, make the most of your education by planning ahead and staying organized.