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How to Take Charge of Your Education in Online Classes

A college senior learning 100% online shares how she's using tech tools to stay connected and accountable with her peers and professors while school is remote.

In a virtual learning environment, students have to take responsibility for their academic success more than ever before. I’m a senior Biology major at St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas, learning 100% remotely. For me, as for many students, it’s been hard to maintain focus and keep myself on track. But I’ve learned to take the reins of my education and succeed despite the challenges that come with online learning. Here’s how I’m setting myself up for success before I graduate and join the real world—and how you can too!

Use tech tools to keep your learning active

St. Edward’s provides access to a few platforms that’ve helped me keep up with my studies. One of them is called TutorMe, a tutoring platform that offers access to tutors 24/7 who can help with trouble spots on assignments or studying for exams. Another tool I use is called Connect, which is a virtual platform provided for student learning. Connect contains additional practice modules that generate a series of practice questions based on questions the user gets wrong in order to increase understanding of the subject. Both of these tools ensure that students get additional quality instruction outside of virtual class sessions. Using tech tools helps you practice more to perform better on assignments and exams. Personally, I really benefit from one-on-one instruction, and being able to log into TutorMe and Connect at any time of day has created a bridge for me to learn outside the virtual classroom without having to step out of my own environment. Look for tools like this through your school to boost your learning and retention of information.

Related: Video: Adjusting to Online Learning

Connect with mentors and peers

My college’s campus success coaches, academic advisors, and career advisors are always available for virtual meetings to help students brainstorm ways they can improve grades and strategize post-college plans. They’re assigned a specific number of students, and they reach out to them at the beginning of each semester to see what anyone needs help with. I know for myself and my peers, attending the virtual office hours of our professors has helped tremendously. It’s all online, but I gain so much clarity on concepts by meeting with my professors outside of class time. I also attend what we call SI (student instruction) sessions where a student who’s already aced a class tutors other students in groups via virtual meetups. SI sessions are good for more difficult classes such as calculus, molecular biology, and physiology, and it helps me a ton. While your school may not offer SI sessions, they most likely have academic and career advisors. Get in touch with them if you haven’t already and see what extra help they can provide you to stay on track.

Get a change of perspective and scenery

For me, study groups have actually become more accessible during virtual learning. Since everything is online, no matter where I am, I can log in and join my peers to talk through tougher assignments. It’s likely your school offers these too! In a lot of classes, students are placed in study groups where we’re encouraged to help each other. Hearing concepts explained in different ways can really help you master what you’re learning. 

Learning virtually and maintaining your grades takes a lot of self-discipline, and it’s easy to get distracted by something else you’d rather do. Try setting up a strategic schedule for yourself by charting it in a planner and calendar like I do. From the moment I wake up, I schedule everything in between classes, such as study time, work, extracurriculars, and exercise. Also try studying in different environments to get a change of scenery. Switching it up can help you stay focused and reduce those distractions

Related: How to Learn at Home During COVID-19

Virtual learning definitely comes with challenges, but it offers benefits as well. You’re never alone in your remote learning, so using the tools and connections available to you will only benefit you in the long run. Take accountability for your education no matter what grade level you’re in, and you’ll be surprised by the results and the places it can take you. With the right support system, schedule, surroundings, and study techniques, you can succeed! 

Stay up-to-date on all things coronavirus and remote learning with our COVID-19 student resources page.

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About Jordan Vasquez

Jordan Vasquez a senior Biology major at St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas. Outside of school, she enjoys hiking, spending time with friends and family, and exploring the attractions that Austin has to offer.

 

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