Student to Student: How to Stay On-Track while Online

by on Apr 6th, 2020

For everyone who didn’t sign up for online classes this semester, well, things have gone unexpectedly. But despite the changes we’ve all faced together (from at least two metres apart) we can all still navigate the remainder of this school year with grand success. Not everyone is going to be an expert at socially distant learning, but by arranging your schedule and your habits in productive ways you can be an online learning digi-master. Distract yourself with this list of 10 tips for staying on-track while online:


Sometimes doing the same thing over and over isn’t insanity, it’s productivity! Keep your studies starting and ending at the same time every day so that you have firm boundaries set for schoolwork. You can use the same times you would have been taking the class anyways before the move online to keep the school spirit going strong. Or maybe you can switch things up and make your 8:00 a.m. nightmare an 11:00 a.m. dream! This is the perfect time to make the schedule you actually wanted for this semester.

Find Your Own Learning Timeline:

Good news! Your Tuesday/Thursday 1.5-hour class you wished was actually a M/W/F 50-minute class just became one! Or maybe it’s a 3-hour class with 20 minutes breaks every hour; the call is yours now, prof. Time is a human construct and you wield its power, so study at your own pace!

Time Management:

You know what they say – a calendar is the cal-ender of falling behind. And even if no one in history has ever said that I still believe it’s true. Layout all your assignments, tests, quizzes, colouring book sessions and what have you somewhere you can see regularly. Whether that’s a paper calendar, a digital one, or even a planner or a whiteboard near your desk. Keep tabs on the only dates you can keep while in quarantine: due dates!

Stay Connected to your Classmates:

While you might be physically oh so lonely, that doesn’t mean you have to do this all alone! Now is a great time to (electronically) communicate with your classmates to keep each other motivated and on schedule. Turn your groupmates into your groupies and have everyone take part in everyone else’s success.

The Study Buddy:

Find your most productive friend and ride the coattails of their responsibility. Video chats are a lovely way to keep up with your quarantined pals and it can also be an excellent method of working with your friends to keep each other focused. Use Facetime, Facebook Video chat, Skype, or any other of the 1,000 online tools to have a video portal to your pal while you both study to use social pressure for the good of productivity.

Use your Prof:

Since all the hours of the day have blended into one, office hours mean nothing, and your prof is now more accessible electronically than ever! There is no need to struggle through the material alone. Reach out to your profs with your questions and concerns and they’ll be able to help you through your transition to online learning. Teamwork makes the dream work, baby.

Have a Home-Away-From-Home to Work from Home:

Boundaries are an important step in every relationship, especially your relationship with yourself. Have a dedicated zone in your house – even if it’s just the less comfy side of your couch – that is dedicated to work, and nothing but work. It’s easy to blend the lines of work and play when you’re studying at the same place that you browse memes. Draw a firm metaphorical line and make sure you stay focused in your focus zone.

Check Out Supplemental Materials:

Being your own professor can be tough sometimes – especially when your only student just isn’t getting it. Luckily for you the entire wealth of human knowledge exists somewhere online. Places like Khan Academy, Crash Course, Minute Physics, and many other nuggets of knowledge on the internet can help supplement your teacher’s notes and give you a new perspective on the material to help digest the learning.

Just Start with Something:

Sometimes the easiest way to knock-out your schoolwork backlog isn’t to sit down and mentally prepare yourself for a 10-hour long onslaught of studying – it’s to just get a sentence on the page, or read the first couple words of a chapter. “Just do it” may not be the most nuanced advice out there, but by just following through with a small start to the homework you can find yourself three chapters deep in no time. Take the pressure of high expectations off yourself and do something small and manageable to get the ball rolling.

Lastly, be kind to yourself.

Needless to say, there’s a lot of stress out there right now. If your online studies aren’t going as smoothly as you wanted, or you find yourself falling behind schedule, then put effort into forgiving yourself and reminding yourself that it’s ok. Students are imperfect at the best of times – and it’s not exactly the best of times. Allow yourself emotional space to accept that timelines won’t be met exactly, that projects are still going to get done at the last second despite all your planning to avoid the cram, and that nothing is going to go as smoothly as you dreamed. Taking time for yourself is ok and forgiving yourself is ok. You can do this.