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How College Kids Can Prepare For Online Learning
We’ve discussed how parents can prep their elementary, middle, and high school kids for distance learning, but we haven’t addressed the college kids and their parents.
Millions of college students across America are going back to college this semester completely online. Whether they’re living in dorms and attending virtual classes, or going completely virtual from home, this transition creates new challenges for those students who have always attended classes in a brick and mortar setting. Here are a few ways to prepare, both as a student and as the parent of a student, for this style of learning.
Master Time Management
As an undergraduate student who has already made it through high school and perhaps some semesters of college, you likely already know you need to develop time management skills. Time management skills are crucial aspects of being a successful student. However, online courses are even more demanding in this way. You don’t have a classroom setting, scheduled time, or the physical presence of a professor reminding you of due dates and assignments. This is entirely up to you to keep track of.
Invest in a way to keep close and diligent track of your schedule and due dates. For example, these BlueSky planners are beloved by college students and offer a variety of planner types, layouts, and aesthetic designs. These are great for the students who prefer the tactile act of writing out their assignments each week in an agenda. It may seem archaic to some, but can be a grade-saving time management tool for others.
Want a more modern system that’s accessible via laptop or smartphone? No worries. Check out apps like Tandem, where you can virtually enter events on a calendar. It’s great for academic planning, as well as keeping track of appointments, virtual class sessions, and more. There are plenty of programs out there like this one, so pick a program that works best for you.
It’d be pretty hard to try and remember every due date within a full-time course load without some sort of time management aid, so take the time to figure out a system that works best for you.
Figure Out Your Learning Style
Students learn in numerous ways. Some prefer hands-on learning, others need to record or listen to a lecture multiple times, some need visual aids, and some students learn through a combination of techniques and styles.
If you haven’t already, narrow down your learning style. Figure out what techniques work for you, and be ready to integrate them into your classes yourself. Online courses involve some amount of teaching yourself the material, so be ready to absorb textbook chapters or PowerPoints without necessarily having a lecture by a professor to accompany it.
Quizzes like this one can help you determine your learning style and offer tips and tricks to practice to help you optimize your educational experience.
Be ready to adapt and get creative in order to cater the material you’ll be learning to your learning style.
Be Ready To Communicate
Whether you’re shy or outgoing, communication within an online course is vital. You’ll likely have discussion threads that you’ll be required to take part in, so you’ll get to know your fellow students fairly well. Consider reaching out to your classmates via your school email and ask if anyone would like to start a study group. Chances are, many students will join your group. You’ll feel a sense of community and belonging, and you’ll all help each other along the way.
One of the most important aspects of communicating in an online course is to remember to communicate with your professor. If you ever have questions, email them to ask. Remember, if you email the professor, only they can see your questions. You likely won’t feel stage fright like you might in a physical setting. If you ever have issues with the course or don’t understand a piece of material or directions on an assignment, the only person who can clarify these questions is the professor. Don’t be afraid; it’s their job to help you learn, so always ask questions when you need to. If you ever have an emergency come up and may need to miss a virtual session or need an assignment extension, simply explain your situation and ask. The worst thing they can say is “no”, and more often than not, they will likely be understanding and try to help you. If you don’t communicate and miss an assignment, explaining what happened after the fact may not go as well, so try to give them as much notice as possible if you ever need accommodations.