Preparing for a New Semester of Online Learning

by | Jan 12, 2023

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By Will Kanter, Marketing Associate 

After what has hopefully been a relaxing winter break, it is almost time to resume classes at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The beginning of a new semester is an excellent opportunity to review one’s work habits, take pride in personal strengths, and identify areas for improvement. As you make your final preparations, here are some tips to get the best start on the year ahead.  

Tip #1 - Mentally Prepare Yourself 

Having an extended break from your usual routine of attending classes and doing homework can make it difficult to pick up again, so start acclimating to your new schedule now. If you have gotten into the habit of staying up late over break, consider going to bed earlier. Getting a good night’s sleep before class the next day will make it that much easier to excel. Additional helpful preparations could be buying textbooks and other school supplies as soon as you know what you need – maybe some snacks to get you through a long study session. 

Tip #2 – Organize and Prioritize 

Once you have your class schedule, it is a good idea to hold onto a copy of it until you know it by heart. Plan on getting set up for classes a little early so you don’t miss out on important information. If any of your classes are asynchronous, set aside time each week to go over the material to stay on top of things. Keep track of assignment deadlines and make sure you do not put anything off until the last minute. 

Tip #3 – Optimize Study Space 

Where you choose to study has an effect on how well you do. Whether you are in class or studying independently, you will probably want to find a quiet, well-lit space where you will not be disturbed by others. A computer and internet connection are essential for an online class, but other than that, it is up to you to determine what kind of environment is most conducive to your success. Avoid studying while watching TV or lying in bed - you should be comfortable, but not so comfortable that you are distracted. 

Tip #4 – Know Your Resources 

Introduce yourself to your professors and peers, actively participate in class, and ask for help if you need it. Your professors will appreciate that you are being proactive, and your peers may benefit from talking through any questions together. Asking questions early on can help prevent confusion later in the semester. 

Tip #5 – Practice Self-Care 

Balancing school, a job, and family can present a formidable challenge. As the semester goes on, you may find yourself overwhelmed with the amount of work you have to complete. When this happens, give yourself time to decompress – eat something, go for a walk, or take a nap. You cannot work indefinitely, so taking regular breaks is as important to your well-being as it is to your productivity. Resolve to make it a good semester, take care of yourself, and go from there. If you need to talk to someone, you can reach out to the counseling center

Starting a new semester may seem daunting, but as long as you put in the work and take care of yourself, you shouldn’t have too much trouble. Study hard, engage, make use of the resources at your command, and ask for help when you need it to make this school year your best yet. 

For more online study resources, check out the student resources page on the Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning website.