Keep the grades up: 8 tips for the new online college student

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, universities across Louisiana cancelled nearly all campus classes and will transition or have already transitioned to online classes. Now, students who signed up for hours of campus class credit must complete the spring semester completely online.

This transition may be more convenient for some students. However, other students may not be as comfortable with the online class environment. In some cases, keeping up with online coursework can require more discipline than actually showing up to class. 

To help you or your new online student navigate the virtual class pace, Dr. Elizabeth Hornsby offered some advice. Dr. Hornsby is an Assistant Professor and Graduate Coordinator in the Department of Communication and Media Studies at Southeastern Louisiana University. She’s been teaching online courses for over a decade.

So, if you are a student new to the online class realm or are fearful this new schedule may cause a dip in your grades, these tips are for you. 

To help you or your new online student navigate the virtual class pace, Dr. Elizabeth Hornsby offered some advice.

1. Make sure you have reliable Internet.

You can’t do the classwork and get the credit if you don’t have the proper access. A reliable Internet connection is especially important if the course involves video platforms, such as YouTube or Zoom. So, if you don’t have access to the necessary resources, Dr. Hornsby recommends you email your teacher as soon as you can.

2. Not all online courses are mobile-friendly.

This could be especially true if it’s a course that transitioned online because of the COVID-19 changes. So, notify your teacher if you plan to do work from mobile devices, such as your smart phone or tablet. You might encounter some difficulties submitting assignments.

3. Make sure you write down deadlines and due dates.

Just because all of your coursework is online doesn’t mean you don’t need pen and paper. Jot down important dates in a planner. Or, get in the habit of putting dates in your smart phone’s calendar. Your professor might not always give you reminders when assignments are due or exams are scheduled.

4. Don’t procrastinate.

In online learning, you are dependent on technology, which will sometimes not work, said Dr. Hornsby. She suggests you give yourself enough time to submit your work before the assignments
close. The “my laptop was broken” excuse won’t always work.

5. Pay attention to required word counts for assignments. 

Don’t miss out on vital grading points just because you didn’t check the word count. Double-check your work before you submit it. 

6. If the teacher posts a rubric to grade your assignments, use it to self-grade.

Make sure your work aligns with the professor’s grading standards. Use the rubric like a checklist and double-check your work. 

7. If extra credit is offered, do it!

I mean, duh! You’re at home now, so you might as well take the extra steps to earn the extra points. 

8. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Communication is key at a time like this. Most professors will completely understand what you’re going through. However, you aren’t in class anymore for the teacher to read your confused face. Email your professor with any questions or concerns about assignments, the material or even the online programs. 

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