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How to survive an online class.

If you’re like me, online classes are the bane of your existence. My brain is not designed to be successful in an online setting for multiple reasons: I forget about deadlines frequently, I’m easily distracted, and I’m not the best with time management. Generally, I avoid online classes because I understand that I’m not designed for them; however this semester I ended up taking one because it was most convenient for my schedule. I have, in my opinion, created the perfect (for me), a guide to surviving online classes.

DISCLAIMER: everyone is different. My survival tips work perfectly for me, whether or not they work for you all depends on how you function normally.

Get An Accountability-Buddy

My biggest problem with online classes is that it is very easy to forget that the class exists when you don’t have to go to a physical location for the class. That's where an accountability buddy (AB) comes in. If possible, sign up for that online class with a friend. If you don’t have any friends who can take the class, reach out to some of your classmates. Maybe they’re in the same boat as you. Now you are each other's AB. You and your AB can hold each other accountable for completing assignments on time. It shouldn’t be just one person sending constant reminders, this is a mutual relationship. You both should be helping each other be successful.

My AB Simon and I send each other reminder texts about things due each week. I remind Simon about the discussion post, and Simon reminds me when papers are due. Part of why having an AB helps me so much is that I don’t want to look like an unorganized fool in front of Simon, but I also don’t want to let him down if he forgot about something that is due. The fear I have helps remind me that this class exists, and I’m taking it.


Get A Space

Another issue I have with online classes is that I need a very specific space to be productive. Part of why I hate working from home is that it is near impossible to create that space in my home. It is a little difficult to describe what I need in my space but I’ll try:

  • Muffled noise

  • Space to write

  • Something to fidget with

  • Some sort of drink

  • No outside interruptions

See it's that last one that makes it difficult for me to work from home. I’ve got a lot of families that like to barge into places despite my pleas. Like I said at the start, everyone is different. You will need to think about what kind of setting will help you be productive, and then do your best to set that space up.

For me, since I know it is difficult to work at home, I do my best to work in the library. During times when I can’t go to the library, I wait until either everyone has gone out, or everyone has gone to sleep. I also make sure that my phone is nowhere near me, because I know I will be tempted to glance at it every 10 minutes.

Get A Schedule

The last thing on my list is to get a schedule together. Now half of this process is made really easy because your professor should have given you access to a syllabus. Just go ahead and put all of those due dates in your calendar of choice. I prefer a digital calendar just because phone reminders really help me keep track of things. However, I also do have a physical planner that I jot down assignments, quizzes, and exam dates on a weekly basis. It’s been proven that writing things down helps you remember things better. So I try to keep both my digital and physical planners up to date.

It doesn’t just stop after getting a planner together. I need structure in my life, otherwise, I fall into a mental void. That means the next step is to set aside time each week for the class. I specifically set aside 75 minutes two days a week for my online class. On Mondays from 11:30 am until 12:45 pm, I watch an online lecture and do my textbook readings. On Wednesdays from 11:30 until 12:45, I finish my readings and work on assignments due. However, the time you set aside can change depending on you, your schedule, and the class you’re taking.


So there you have it. My small guide for surviving an online class. For me, Accountability-Buddies, the proper workspace, and a good schedule are what I need. However, your needs might be different. The biggest takeaway is to find what works best for you and the class you’re taking.


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