7 tips for online class success

With classes going remote, staying on track has been more challenging than ever

Student on computer

Online classes are the new normal for students on campuses everywhere, including at San Diego City College. Canva photo

Elisabeth Vermeulen, Staff Writer

Online classes come with convenience and flexibility. You don’t have to deal with getting out of bed early, circling around for parking, or socializing before consuming coffee. Sounds like every college student’s dream — until you realize virtual learning comes with a high level of self-discipline and independence. 

For most of us who are not familiar with online courses, this is now our new reality. If you are worried about the possibility of falling behind, then you are in the right place. Here are seven ways to stay on track while taking classes online. 

Fake it ‘til you make it

Don’t allow being at home to discourage you from staying focused and motivated from your online assignments. Although being in your pajamas may be the best part of studying from home, it can also put you in the mood to just watch Netflix all day.

Getting dressed can help lead to a productive day. Take extra steps to use your time as if you were on campus. 


Remove distractions

I’m sure I speak for most of us when I say there have been a few times where I planned to do homework only to find myself hours invested into social media. We have all been in this situation and there are ways to avoid this.

Eliminate any distractions such as your phone or TV. Try turning your phone on airplane mode to disable notifications, or download the Freedom or Forest app.

The Freedom app allows you to temporarily block off any websites while studying and the Forest app helps students manage their time by growing a virtual tree by not using their phone. The Forest app can also be downloaded as a browser extension to prohibit surfing websites outside of your coursework.

Organize and plan

Yes, it is still vital to plan even if you don’t have anywhere to go! Go back to the syllabus and make note of major assignments. Check in with your professors to see if any changes have been made due to classes being shifted to online platforms. Students should jot down assignments that are due, while also including time to study.

Here is a video showing how to organize school work using Google Keep:

Set up a schedule to follow (and avoid procrastination)

The main difference between being in a classroom and doing an online class is the time structure. Most of you may get more done when you are already “stuck” in class, whereas online classes allow schedule flexibility, which can lead to procrastination.

Create a schedule with a specific time to read, watch lectures, study and complete assignments. The last thing you want is to let your time go to waste and not complete anything.

Establish a study area

Create a designated learning environment for studying in your home (preferably not your bed). You will begin to set a routine for yourself and be more focused.

If a family member or roommate is around, let them know that you will be dedicating some time towards school work. They’ll understand. 

Communicate with your professors

If your professor offers virtual office hours, take advantage of it. Email your professor or ask questions during virtual conferences. Stay connected with your professors. They are in the same boat as you, waiting for human interaction!


Take breaks in between

Giving yourself breaks provides the mental clarity you need in order to concentrate and work better. Try to break up your study sessions to ensure you’re not overworking yourself.

For example, take a five minute break after studying for 45 minutes, or reward yourself with a snack after an hour of studying.

How are you adjusting to online classes? Have any secrets to success that are worth sharing? Let us know on social media @SDCityTimes or leave a comment below.