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Learn about the experience of taking online classes with Romy!

For most of us the previous spring semester was probably the hardest. The COVID-19 pandemic brought a lot of changes in our personal and academic life, and one of it was taking full online classes. In this blog segment, Romy Darius a second semester IR major student shares with us her experience taking the online classes for the first time in her academic life and also offers some tips for taking online classes.

The start of the spring semester was challenging for many students, myself included. In early February, I was back home for a visit anticipating returning my grand return to school. I couldn’t wait for what was in store for the semester. That was until COVID 19 also known as the Corona virus wreaked global panic. The numbers were rising and with every moment, the gravity of the situation became palpable. As personal lives unfolded drastically, so did academic endeavors. I received a notification from our GSIS faculty that for the time being, our courses would only be offered online. What I thought was only going to be a temporary decision lasted throughout the semester. For the first time, I was challenged with taking a full time course load completely online.

Balancing four courses along with an internship was excruciating, mentally taxing, grueling and basically any other word synonymous with brutal. Yet, I survived. I made it to the finish line completing the race successfully. I managed to keep my grades intact, despite the unforeseen circumstances. This blog post is not to boast of my accomplishments, but rather to provide a few helpful tips on how to successfully take GSIS classes online. Without further ado, here are my top three tips for taking online classes.

 Tip #1:  Be an Active Participant

There is a popular saying that goes “Eighty percent of success is showing up”. Attendance is the first tip and a crucial component to successfully taking an online class. Unlike on-site classes, online courses require more attention since lectures are sent either via a pre-recorded video on Cybercampus and YouTube, or even conducted live on Zoom. Although online courses are beneficial in terms of accessibility in the comfortable confines of your home, accessibility to the professor, on the other hand is limited. Simply just attending classes is insufficient, especially for an online course. I know that it’s tempting to lazily watch a pre-recorded lecture or to doze off during a live lecture under the guise of a black screen but active participation can set you ahead of the pack.

Active participation includes participating in class discussions, completing the reading ahead of time, and asking questions or offering constructive commentary during the lectures. This can easily boost your final grade especially towards the end of the semester when that 10% can take you from an A to an A+. which will leave you with a strong GPA and bragging rights to a much coveted grade that you desire. Okay, maybe it’s just me who desires it but in any case, a stronger GPA is an added bonus.

 Tip #2: Build Time Management Skills

The second tip is to build time management skills. Taking online classes requires intensive self-discipline and time management skills. I, for one, am terrible with managing my time. Yes, I understand that some people are gifted with the precious skill of time management. However, I am not one of those people. I’ve learned throughout the years that I require a daily habitual schedule in order for me to keep track of my assignments. Time management is a must in order to successfully complete an online course. Imagine having multiple group assignments, papers, and projects all due within the same time frame while taking onsite classes. The stress is almost 10 times as high when taking online classes.

 This is why I recommend planning a study schedule at the start of taking any online classes to prevent an overload of assignments. This could mean allocating a specific time each day to complete your assignments, catch up on readings, read ahead, review lecture notes, start researching for the final paper, and so on. Planning ahead can be the difference between rushing and spending all night frantically completing assignments or getting a good night’s rest knowing that you’ve completed your assignments on time. The choice is yours, however, I would strongly recommend that you choose the latter instead of the former to ensure your sanity and success while taking online classes.

 Tip #3: Be Proactive

 Last but not least, be proactive. This tip encompasses the first and second tip as it requires for you to be “on the ball” or proactive. For example, sitting in a quiet environment instead of a bustling cafe, removing distractions from around you i.e. your phone or any other smart device, sitting up instead of lying down, etc. Removing distractions is one way to stay “on the ball” and focused on the task at hand. Another way to be proactive while taking online courses is to seek out information to supplement your learning. One way to do this is by reading from the supplemental reading list that professors provide on the syllabus that are not mandatory but can serve as a guide in understanding complex concepts. Being proactive helped me to build a routine for my online courses which also tremendously equipped me for success.

 I hope that these tips were useful in helping you on your journey to online academic success. Always remember the 5 P’s: Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance. As the saying goes, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”. Good luck!!!

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