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Creative Writing and Film Major
With the abrupt transition to online classes, many individuals had to quickly adapt to the extremely different lifestyle of being an online student. And as someone who made a point to avoid online classes for the past two years as a UNT student, I was having a very hard time making deadlines, effectively studying, and juggling work without the structure that comes with having in-person classes and a campus that allowed me to have a set schedule and a place to work without distractions. I had to change everything about the way I handled my coursework-- and fast. So here are some tips that I picked up on my journey to becoming a successful online student.
1. Avoiding Distractions:
Distractions can be your biggest enemy as an online student, so it is your job to ensure that all possible distractions are handled before you start on your work.
If it’s your phone, leave it across the room or out of your sight with the notifications off so that you don’t instinctively pick up your phone. This includes any other electronic devices such as smartwatches.
If you’re not someone who’s comfortable studying in silence, turn off the TV and turn on some music! Youtube has a lot of songs to study to, or you can create your own study playlist.
When it comes to family members and even roommates, open communication is the best option. Let them know the task at hand and why it’s important so they can do their best to provide you the quiet you need. Then, (if you can) isolate yourself in your room, outside, or even in your car so you can work.
2. Take Periodic Breaks
Our brains can only handle so much of staring at a computer screen all day, so make it a point to give yourself the proper breaks you need to ensure that you are turning in your best work in each class. Reward yourself with a 15-minute break between each task so you can remain focused. Use this time to get a snack, rest your eyes, or even check social media; as long as you are taking your mind off of your schoolwork. After your break, you will be refreshed and ready to tackle what’s next with a new mindset.Pro Tip: Check Canvas and Your Email Often
Make sure Canvas and Outlook are in rotation with your other social media apps so that you are always up to date with school work. If you can’t, devote a certain amount of time / set an alarm for the same time every day to check in on your email(s) and Canvas so don’t miss any important information concerning classwork.
3. Tips for using Canvas:
MAKE SURE (and I cannot emphasize this enough) YOUR NOTIFICATIONS FOR CANVAS ARE ON! Go into your settings under ‘Account’ and choose which notifications you’d like to receive. Canvas allows you to be notified right away, or have a daily or weekly summary sent to you. “Due Dates” “Grading” “Announcement” and “Submission Comment” are a few that I personally recommend setting to “Notify me right away” as these are crucial notifications for all courses.
Utilize the Canvas calendar as a planner! This built-in option allows students to have their course deadlines/ assignments, extracurricular activities, and even work all scheduled in one place.
Check out more important tips like these here: https://online.unt.edu/learn/5-tips-getting-most-out-canvas
4. Tips for reaching out to your professor
Always include your student ID and course number in the subject line! This makes it easier for the professor to locate emails for your class section and makes it more likely for your professor to respond.
Utilize Canvas’ built-in messaging system to email your professors! It’s a quick and easy way to contact them without having to look through the syllabus for their contact information. This tool is great to utilize because you and the professor receive a notification from Canvas, along with an email notification that helps to increase the response time on both ends.
5. Know What Online Resources are Offered by UNT
UNT has moved many in-person resources online so students can still receive the same quality on-campus assistance they need to ensure their success in courses.
Learnanywhere.unt.edu is UNT’s one-stop-shop for everything a student needs to be a successful online student. Additionally, this link contains a list of online resources provided by UNT during this time from the writing lab to counseling and testing services. https://clear.unt.edu/canvas/student-resources
6. Set Goals!
Goal setting is key to being a successful remote student. Having daily, weekly, and even monthly goals allow you to break up your classwork into smaller tasks that take the stress out of doing big assignments such as semester projects, studying for tests, essays, etc..
7. Create Schedules, and Follow Them
Emphasis on schedules; you need to have a daily schedule and a monthly/ semester schedule. Mapping out a clear daily plan that includes your schoolwork, job(s), and other important tasks throughout your day makes it easier to achieve your set goals because you have made time for them. Not to mention how satisfying it is to cross off a goal on your to-do list!
A monthly/ semester schedule is important so that you can have all far out dates such as exams, papers due, and other salient projects throughout the semester written down so you can plan your week accordingly.
Canvas’ calendar option makes this easier by already having most of your course deadlines scheduled so all you have to do is add in other important dates!
8. Know Where to Start
Once you have set your schedules and goals, it’s time to get to the real work. Not all assignments are easy tasks, some will require more time, effort, and dedication in order to complete and earn a good grade on in return. So reward your future-self by completing the tasks related to your hardest assignments first so that it’s not in the back of your mind causing stress and anxiety as you focus on other coursework. Always knock out the most strenuous tasks on your list first!
9. Stay Organized, Physically!
The space that you study in plays a big role in how well you learn. For many online students, that study space can be your bedroom, office, or living room. No matter where, the space(s) you live in often reflect your mental state, so when it’s unorganized, it can affect your ability to focus due to the disorder around you. Make it a point to keep your not only your classwork organized, but your study space as well.
Overall, what I find to be the most important component of being a successful online student is being disciplined. Don’t let the relaxation and freedom that comes with learning from home make you believe that you can simply fit schoolwork into your schedule. You must make it your first priority by scheduling your life around your schoolwork. I hope that with these tips, we can all be successful online students!
For more information on being a successful online student visit learnanywhere.unt.edu