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Tips to Prepare For an Online Course

Higher Education is experiencing a new environment where students are taking most, if not all, of their courses online.  This may cause some anxiety for some as they may not have intended to take online courses.  There are steps you can take to set yourself up for success whether you are new to taking online courses or you have been taking them for years.

  • Environment

Every students’ learning style and circumstances are unique.  Keeping that in mind, it is in your best interest to figure out the method that works for you.  Ask yourself some questions to determine what you need to learn effectively and how you can use your environment.  Here are some examples:

  • Do I have all the items I need to study effectively? 
  • Does a quiet environment help me concentrate?
  • Do I need an organized space? 
  • Am I going to be studying while at work?

Some students like to listen to music while they study. Music can transport you to a place you may not be able to access physically and or emotionally. For example, music can help calm anxiety. Hear what Riyahauna has to say about music:

  • Technology

Take time to get to know the technology that you will be using. The first few weeks of classes can be stressful as there is new content to learn, new people, to get to know, and new technology to explore. Pro tip: tech support lines can be quite busy, so take time to look through some helpful guides like these on Connect or other technology your instructor is requiring. Once you know what platforms will be used, begin experimenting with how they work. Becoming familiar with technology in advance will prepare you to fully engage in the course and submit assignments on time.

  • Get to know others

Taking online courses can feel lonely. The good news is—you are not alone! Getting to know the other students and the instructor will help create a sense of community. While you may have been asked to complete icebreaker and introduction assignments in other classes, these are great exercises to help you get to know others. Use this time to find students with mutual interests. Be an active participant in your assigned groups and you will find others are quick to help as they get to know you. Pro tip: never be afraid to reach out to other students to ask questions or for help.

  • Schedule

Even if you’ve taken online courses before, your new online classes might look and feel different. Each online course will have different requirements and due dates. From the very beginning, place the due dates for all your classes on a single calendar so have a clear picture of your schedule. Then, outline how you will study for each course.  Plan to devote a minimum of 3-4 days per week working on each course. It is best to spend a little bit of time on each course during each study session rather than studying for one course for a long time. Our brains absorb content in small chunks and require sleep to make connections. Varying the content during your study sessions and visiting the content several times each week will aid in retention. To stay motivated, take breaks during your study sessions.

Many instructors and students are learning to navigate a new way of learning. Expect roadblocks and anticipate stumbling blocks. A good attitude and patience will help to ease some of the stress and help you become a better learner and collaborator. As we discussed, music can be a great tool to help. Enjoy this motivational Spotify playlist to get you excited for the upcoming semester from Turner Cho, a student at Reinhardt University The Road to Success

Looking for more tools to help you study this semester? Check out McGraw-Hill’s free and discounted student study solution: redi!

About the Author

Kristin Clark Randles began her musical career at Central Piedmont Community College and then transferred to Winthrop University to earn her Bachelor’s and Master’s in Percussion Performance. She has been teaching a wide variety of music courses in higher education since 2004. One of her favorite things about being an instructor is having the opportunity to be a part of the DFC program with McGraw-Hill. She finds it to be a joy to be able to assist other colleagues in using McGraw-Hill content to fit their needs inside and outside of the classroom. You can find her out performing regularly in the classical, jazz and pop genres as a vocalist and percussionist. She is also a stay at home mom of 4 kids and loves a good book, craft project or hike!

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