Nate’s declassified online school survival guide

School is hard as it is. When you take away the entire in-person aspect of it, it splits people down two paths. One makes it much much easier, the other does the opposite. Complaints about online school include little or no face-to-face interaction, more busywork and less of an opportunity for learning. Other people might find the open schedule beneficial and even preferable. 

According to SurveyMonkey, just 37 percent of college students find themselves “extremely or very prepared” to make the move to online classes. This isn’t a shocking number, as the change to online college isn’t uniform across the country, and there was a lot of confusion as to whether or not any given institution would go online or attempt in person. 

Thriving in an online school environment comes down to how you approach each day. Setting deadlines, creating an environment that works for you and treating it like it is regular school. Pre-COVID, in the fall of 2018, 35.3 percent of college students had previously taken a distanced-learning class option according to The National Center for Education Statistics. 

Online classes are a great option for people who work full-time and seek a degree. They also help commuter students cut down on commute days. They are extremely useful for summer classes as well as winter-intersession classes at DePaul. So try a few of these tips for an enhanced experience in online learning. 

Establish a Routine:

This is one of the most obvious tips on the list. If possible, set a solid schedule for when you’ll work on asynchronous work, and when you are taking zoom classes live. You want a solid foundation of time to do classwork. You don’t have to wake up super early but you can set a solid chunk of your day for work. 

Getting dressed like you’re going to school might even help. 

“Even if you’re not going to class, get dressed like you’re going to class,” senior instructional designer at DePaul Josh Lund said. “I know it’s tempting to go all day in your pajamas because you could. Yeah, but actually and I do this too, I make myself get dressed for work when I get up in the morning because otherwise, it doesn’t feel as much like going to my job. And it’s the same thing for [students].”

If you can get all your work done efficiently, the benefits would be great. The past few months of lockdown have made days feel less and less structured. Entering a solid routine could help curb distractions as well.

Eliminate Distractions:

The added benefit of eliminating distractions will make school easier while learning more. Leaving your phone in the other room and blocking time-waster sites on your web browser can help a lot with getting work done efficiently. A three-hour study session with no distractions is always better than a six-hour one with distractions. 

Increasing focus is important for learning in a classroom environment. Yet it is even more so important in online learning. Focusing on a video call can be very difficult. The ability to sit still and work without distraction is a hard to gain but vital skill.

Working through quizzes online is much different than in person. I find it easier and less stressful outside of the classroom regardless of the subject. Problem-solving is easier in a more comfortable space at home versus in a classroom.

Find Motivation:

It can be easier to motivate yourself when in a classroom environment than at home. Eliminating distractions can make motivation easier as well. Telling yourself to work from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and that’s it is a good way to motivate yourself for those three hours, knowing you have time outside of that window to do whatever you want. 

“The student has to be motivated enough to want to do the courses,” Lund said. “You know, a lot of times you’ll find that if you’re apprehensive about taking an online course, just try one in your major try when you’re really interested in. That’s the place. That’s the place to begin. Now, right now, we don’t have the choice. Everything is online. So in a situation like this, the best thing that you can do is try to put a good foot forward and think about what kinds of classes you can do now that would be better online. Think about the courses that you have to take in the future and try to choose courses that might require less of the face to face stuff.”

Try to Connect With Professors

Connecting with professors can be very difficult in an online environment. Nevertheless, it is super important to create a good class experience and even help your future. There are three types of online classes this quarter: synchronous, hybrid and asynchronous. The latter of which being a completely online class with no video interactions. 

Even synchronous learning is difficult in these times. The social aspect is almost completely gone, and it is all about just taking rapid notes from a professor. Yet hope isn’t lost in finding a connection with faculty members. 

“I think just trying to find ways to connect with whoever is teaching the class,” CDM professor Amber Settle said. “You want to connect with the faculty whenever you can, go to their office hours. Last spring I didn’t have a lot of students come to my office hours.”

Settle is confident that students and teachers are more prepared for this quarter. “[Office hours] are one of the biggest benefits about going to a school like DePaul where teaching is so important that faculty are very oriented toward students,” she said.