How to Manage Time Wisely in Winter Session

by Di Wu | Jul 18, 2017
Round 2-Winter

Starting in winter of 2014, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign offered a number of four-week online courses over the winter break. It helps you boost your GPA, graduate early, study remotely and flexibly and enjoy a productive, focused, meaningful winter break. Yet you may wonder if it is manageable to take on a full credit online course over the break. This post will discuss why winter session could be a challenge and how to manage your time wisely in a winter session.

Why Winter Session Can Be a Challenge

The first challenge is that many students do not have online learning experience. 71.5% of undergraduate students in the U.S. did not take any distance education course in 2014 according to U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. Online courses require you to take control and study at your own pace by looking at the syllabus thoroughly and to monitor all the deadlines of assignments and quizzes. It also requires you to actively engage in class and interact with classmates and instructors through emails, online discussions and/or web conferences.

The second challenge is that winter break is short and occupied with holiday plans. Students normally stay with their family and friends, sometimes involving travel and work. In addition, most of the winter sessions have the same workload as a 16-week course. It seems impossible to take a full credit course within four to five weeks. Here are some useful tips for you to be successful in an online winter course.

Tip 1 Communicate with Family and Friends

You may have travel plans with your family and friends over the winter break, so it is critical to communicate with them in advance. Tell them you are going to take a winter course before any traveling plans are made. Also let your family and friends know what your schedule looks like, so you won’t be distracted by other activities while trying to study.

Tip 2 Create a Productive Study Environment

Set up a warm, cozy, quiet place where you can be fully engaged in learning. A laptop and high-speed internet are basic technical requirements for an online course (sometimes need a headset and/or microphone). Put a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door and silence your phone to stay focused on the course. It is very easy to get distracted by many things, such as a message from your friends or new emails. Therefore, it is important to take an online course as serious as a face-to-face course.

Mark Your Calendar with All Due Activities

Use the calendar application to link your smart phone and mark important dates in the calendar, such as assignments, quizzes, and exam deadlines. Schedule your daily activities according to the deadline. Prioritize the learning tasks in your to-do list. Google Calendar is a free and useful mobile app to keep you on track.

Study Ahead

You will notice that some assignments or exam deadlines may fall on or near Christmas or New Years, and the solution is to study ahead. Most of the course material including readings, discussion topics, assignments and quizzes are open at the beginning of the winter session which makes it possible to study ahead. For example, if you are planning to take trip on a certain week during the break, you might want to study one week ahead before traveling so when you return you will be caught up on all material covered.

Ask for Help Immediately

Never hesitate to ask for help from your instructor or a Teaching Assistant. It is fully understandable that technical and pedagogy issues could happen to anyone. Shooting an email or sending a notice through Moodle or Blackboard is pretty effortless. Never hesitate to ask any questions or wait until the last minute, especially during holiday break.

Managing your time wisely can be rewarding not only for a winter session course, but also for life-long career options. I hope that these tips above can help you be successful in a Winter Session! Any other study tips? Please share your comments with us!


Digest of Education Statistics(Table 311.15, Rep.). (2015). U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics.