Creating a Workable Schedule for Online College

In our last blog we talked about 5 Tips to Help You Succeed in remote learning. 2020 has been a year of challenges for all of us. Students at GVSU have now survived three semesters of adapted learning due to the pandemic, but there are still lessons to be learned going forward into 2021. If you’ve struggled with distance learning, now is the time to get more organized and create for yourself a workable schedule for online learning.  

What Does a Workable Schedule Look Like?

There is no one schedule for online college. Every student has different responsibilities that they must prioritize, including classes, studying, working, sleeping, eating, and socializing. The important thing is to decide what your priorities are. Then you can create a schedule that will help you realize all of your goals while still allowing you time for relaxation and stress relief. It may take a few tries to make a schedule that really works for you, but keep trying! 

When you have a schedule planned out that takes into account everything you need to get done, place it where you can see it. This will help with both reminders and accountability. For some people, having a physical calendar works. Other people rely on scheduling software. Make sure that whatever tool you use is with you when you need it so you can refer to it as necessary. It may help to have a white board in your room as a visual reminder too. It can be very emotionally rewarding to check off tasks as you accomplish them. 

Practical Steps toward Creating Your Workable Schedule

Whatever method you use to keep track of your schedule, the first thing you should do when you get your class syllabi is to write down due dates and coursework deadlines in your calendar. If you do not write them down, you risk forgetting them. In the back of your mind you will be anxious about what you need to remember. 

In-person schooling has built-in check points. Your professor will remind you when tests or assignments are coming up. Your classmates will share how they are progressing on projects. Online learning doesn’t offer the same accountability, so you will have to make a habit of checking your calendar regularly or setting reminders on your phone. 

Breaking your assignments into smaller, more manageable parts may help to keep you motivated. A large assignment can be intimidating, and you might feel overwhelmed or be tempted to procrastinate to avoid it. It may seem more manageable to break a 10-page paper into individual tasks like:

  • Select a topic
  • Do research
  • Decide on a thesis and create an outline
  • Write a first draft
  • Edit first draft
  • Finalize your paper and turn it in

Selecting a topic is a smaller task. Completing small tasks is confidence building and encouraging. If you estimate how long you think each of the above will take, then you can add that to your schedule and your calendar to keep yourself on track. This will help you avoid all-nighter writing stretches, that feeling of abject panic, and poorly done work. 

Altering Your Schedule

Your schedule will vary depending on what part of the semester it is. That’s why you will have to evaluate it from week to week and decide how much time you’ll need to set aside for studying based on your workload. In the beginning of the semester you will have larger stretches of time available for relaxation or socializing. Towards the end, you will have to focus on getting everything done. The more you have to do, the more important creating a workable schedule will be for your success. 

It may seem like a drag to organize everything, but many students find that by being disciplined with their work and studying time, they have more time for doing things they like. Think about how much time you spend procrastinating doing nothing before a big paper is due. If you push yourself to get your work done, you’ll feel better and you’ll have the free time to do something truly enjoyable instead of just wasting time. 

Finally, no matter how busy you are, schedule in time for sleep and stress reduction, even if it’s just a short nap and a quick run or yoga session. Your brain needs downtime to function well. Sleep is essential, not optional. You might be able to pull an all-nighter here and there and get away with it, but if you cheat sleep and self care long enough, it will catch up with you.  Your work and health will suffer. Pencil in time for yourself to avoid that outcome.

Online classes can be tough for college students, especially when they’re not used to them or to creating a workable schedule. Before the new semester begins, go over what worked and what didn’t last semester and see if you can create a workable schedule for more success in college. The old adage that “Success is 90% preparation and 10% perspiration” is true. As always, we at Meadows Crossing wish our students all the best in the new semester. Happy New Year!

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