How to Succeed in Virtual Classes

In early March, life as we knew it would change forever. The COVID-19 Pandemic hit and immediately everything shut down. Jobs, restaurants, clubs, and schools all closed down in order to help slow the spread of the virus. Technology was the most reliable way for everyone to still be connected.

In the educational world, for some, this was their first-time taking classes online. The shift from in-person learning to online was difficult. Students now had a lot more time on their hands. Staying motivated and focused on their schoolwork became a little bit more difficult. But there are tips and tricks to having a successful academic online school year.

Treat Online Courses Like an In-Person Course

Remember that either you, the student, or your parents are paying for this course. So why not get off on the right start? Applying the same discipline, you have when you go to in-person classes can go a long way in online classes. You show up to your in-person class to listen to the lecture, do the same online. Set your laptop or tablet up at a desk and actively listen. If your course does not have a specific time to meet each week and you all work independently, then decide which days you are going to work on what course to prevent procrastination.

Practice Time Management

Time management is a skill that is very crucial in online courses. With online courses comes a lot more time on your hands. Time that will fly by if you are not watching it closely. To prevent starting an assignment the night before it’s due try doing some of these tips.

At the beginning of the semester, sit down and look at your syllabi for all your classes. Take note of big assignments like projects, tests, quizzes, papers, etc. Grab your calendar, whether physical or digital, and write in the major due dates. After that is done, reference your calendar often to ensure that the big dates do not sneak up on you. On this calendar you can write in other big dates that are not academic related like a game, recital, or wedding. You can work in your academics around those events to ensure you have enough time to submit your assignments and do what you please in your personal life.

Next, you could create a weekly schedule. In this schedule you have certain times set aside for different classes. Hold yourself accountable to making sure you stick to this schedule. Set multiple reminders throughout the week to make sure you know what’s coming up next, but be careful not to overload yourself with work all day long. It’s okay to take breaks. Set alarms on your phone for each assignment. For example, read the book for your English class for one hour. Then get up and move around for 30 minutes to give yourself a break. Afterwards, you can get right back to work on another assignment.

The final tip for succeeding with your time management, is checking in periodically with yourself throughout the semester. See if the schedule you set up for yourself is working out. If not, go back to the drawing board and rework some things. If you found that reading for one hour was too long for you then try reading for 45 minutes instead and see if you retain more information after the adjustment.

Reduce Distractions

From social media to streaming services to noisy roommates, distractions are all around us. There’s no way to get rid of them completely, but you can help reduce them. When working on schoolwork try turning off your phone or putting it on “Do Not Disturb.” The urge to touch your phone when a text message or social media notification pops up will be greatly reduced if you can’t see or hear it. If you have access to social media platforms on your laptop or tablet, try putting on a website blocker on your most frequently visited webpages.

If people are your distraction, try putting in earphones. Listen to instrumental music so you aren’t tempted to sing along with your favorite songs when they come on from your playlist. If that doesn’t work, then try changing your location. Go to your local library or sit at a Starbucks. Your bed sometimes isn’t your best friend when it comes to getting work done.

How Do You Learn Best?

Are you a morning or night person? If you’re an early bird, then try to get studying done early in the morning before your day gets busy. If you’re a night owl, then do some studying after dinner before you go to bed for the evening. Don’t try and get up early if that isn’t what your body likes and don’t try and stay up late if that isn’t what your body likes. 

At some point in time throughout grade school, you probably learned what type of learner you are. For example, are you an auditory, visual, or kinesthetic learner? If you learn best by hearing something said to you then ask to record the lectures so you can go back and listen to it at your leisure. If you are a visual learner, take detailed notes that you can look back on for reference. If you are a kinesthetic learner, which means you learn by physically doing something, then ask for extra practice problems and try them out yourself in your free time. Listen to your body and make the decision that’s best for you.

Actively Participate in Classes

The final tip for successfully doing well in virtual classes is to actually participate in class. When your teacher/professor asks a question, answer the question and actively listen to your classmates when they answer the question. When class is over, go into the discussion board posts and see what your other peers are saying about the course topics. Comment back and ask questions if you want clarification on a topic that you didn’t get in the lecture.


Online classes can be challenging but with these tips, your time in them should be a little bit easier. Treat the online course like an in-person one, practice good time management skills, eliminate your distractions, figure out how you learn best, and actively participate in class. Online courses aren’t the ideal situation because you’re missing the physical interaction, but it doesn’t have to be stressful. You can succeed the same way you would in an in-person class.

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Author: Tamara Scantlebury