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Successful strategies for passing an online class

Published April 18, 2024| minute read
Hadiya Iqbal

Senior Associate, JPMorgan Chase

    E-learning and online classes are increasingly common. Per the World Economic Forum, there are more students accessing online courses than ever before, and in numbers exceeding pre-pandemic levels. If you're a student who's only operated in traditional classrooms, you might find the adjustment to online learning difficult. Luckily, there are some steps to take to set yourself up for success in an online learning environment.

    Above all else, it’s important to remember that online learning is not easier than in-person learning. These classes can take just as much time and dedication as classes in a classroom.

    If you’re taking an e-learning or online class for the first time, here are some tips to consider.

    Ensure you have reliable internet access

    Almost every facet of an online class requires internet access. From interactive online classrooms to discussion boards to the process of turning in assignments — it’s all done on the web.

    If you don’t have reliable internet access, it can impact your success. Imagine not being able to turn in a project on time or getting docked points for not being present during an online class. These things can add up.

    Make sure you have access to an internet connection before signing up for an online course or get help accessing the internet for free. Libraries and community centers often offer free internet for visitors, for instance.

    Alternatively, your college campus might have spaces you can use to access the internet. Ask your counselor or school's administrative office for more information or a list of resources to make sure you have the internet access you need to succeed.

    Treat online classes like regular classes

    Show up for your online course the way you would a regular classroom-based class.

    Organize your assignments and due dates the way you would for your other classes. It can be helpful, for instance, to put them in your planner or calendar. Next, create a folder that includes all of your notes and worksheets (this folder can be on your computer), and make sure you have access to it every time you sit down to take your online class.

    Your online classes matter just as much as your other classes, so why would you treat them any differently?

    Set aside a “study space”

    Create a space in your home that is free of distractions to do your online classwork. If you can, make sure you have your phone set to silent and limit other distractions such as television shows or other loud disturbances.

    Whether you’re doing your classwork or watching a class and taking notes, having a dedicated space to go to can help keep you focused.

    With online classes, it’s critical to be able to stay focused. It’s easy for your attention to drift elsewhere when you’re in a comfortable space that you’re used to, and let your mind wander to the laundry or the dishes rather than paying attention to the course material. A dedicated study space may help.

    Take notes and organize your study materials

    Taking notes throughout a class can help you stay focused on the topic. It’ll also help you retain the knowledge and information the professor shares with you.

    Additionally, since online classes often don’t demand real-time interaction like in-person classes, it can help you sort out what questions you need to ask or areas you need help with. At that point, you can participate in online discussions or email your professor for clarification.

    Participate in online discussions and forums

    Many online classes have a forum or a discussion board available for students. This is a great place to get your questions answered and discuss materials with your classmates.

    While taking an online course, make sure you check in on these discussion boards regularly if they're available to you. It might be beneficial to set aside some time to check them every week. Discussing class material with others can help you process and retain information, which means you might do better on assignments and exams. While traditional classes usually have an in-class discussion component, online forums are another way to stay engaged with your e-learning classes.

    Additionally, don’t hesitate to reach out to your professors. They’re generally available via email and discussion boards. Don’t let the fact that you’re not in a classroom prevent you from asking questions or getting clarification on topics you don’t understand.

    Tap into self-motivation

    To successfully complete online classes, you need to be versed in self-motivation. Without seeing people face to face, it becomes easier to slack off and not participate in a class the way you should in order to succeed.

    Whether this means setting a strict schedule or stepping out of your home to do classwork — find what works for you and do it.

    In e-learning, your success is entirely up to you. As more and more learning options move online, learning how to self-motivate is an essential skill to cultivate as you pursue your education.

    Final thoughts

    Keeping these tips in mind can help you take online classes without worrying about whether or not you can handle them. With determination and focus, you’ll be more than ready to succeed.

     As always, if you need extra help, make sure to reach out to your professor or others. Without a professor there to check in with in person, online classes can feel overwhelming and isolating. Reach out to your fellow classmates for additional support, too.