Preparing for a new school semester always takes some work, especially during online school! Whether you’re an underclassman or an upperclassman, there are certain steps you need to take to fully prepare for a new online semester.
For online students, staying focused and motivated during school can be a challenge. Students often find themselves getting distracted during class, and procrastinating big time after class.
In this post, you’ll learn what steps you need to take to prevent these from happening. By preparing for your online classes properly, you’ll be ready to crush your online classes with ease.
Write down your schedule
In online school, there’s no one to remind you of when class begins and ends. You are responsible for your own time, and there’s no better way to remember your schedule than to write it down and stick it somewhere visible.
You can time block each class on a calendar (like the image below), set alarms on your phone for each class, or simply write the times on a sticky note and place it somewhere on your desk.
I also find it helpful to put the links for each Zoom class next to each calendar event (if it’s online). This gives me easy access to the links and makes it much easier to find my way to each class.
Over time, you’ll be able to memorize this schedule, and everything will run much more smoothly. Right now, let’s see how to ensure a productive class time!
Set up and organize your desk
As an online student, I spend at least 7 hours a day at my desk, in front of my computer. Because of this, I like to keep my desk super organized and comfy, so that I won’t get too tired of sitting at the same place for hours on end.
You can find a detailed guide on how to properly organize your desk here:
Meanwhile, I’ll mention some of the most important tips. First, if your desk is extremely cluttered, get a few desk organizers and throw away any useless items. If you simply have too many things, consider getting an extra shelf or rolling cart to store them.
In addition, make it a habit to organize your desk routinely. Every 2 weeks or so, throw out the papers that are building up and clean all the dusty corners. This will help you maintain a clean mind as well as a clean study space!
Make sure your tech works
Arguably one of the most important steps, before online classes start, is to make sure your basic tech supplies are functioning and strong enough to last you the entire school year.
Here are some basic items you probably need to have:
- A working laptop, desktop, or tablet
- A stable WIFI connection or really strong data
- Zoom (or another platform) installed and working
- Access to a working printer and/or scanner
If you’re missing one of multiple of the above, check with your school and district to see if they offer any help or alternatives. In addition, if you feel like your teachers are likely to need more class-specific supplies, be sure to check with them directly before school starts.
Have the right tools
Other than the essential technology you need for online classes, there are also various tools and supplies that make life easier. Here is a large list of things you may need (none of these are required, but personally, I find them very helpful to have):
- High-quality headphones or earbuds (with a working microphone).
- Ergonomic laptop stand that elevates the screen to eye level.
- Blue-light glasses that protect your eyes from the screen.
- A phone stand that I place right next to my laptop stand.
- A pen organizer to keep all my most-used pens near.
- Flashcards and sticky notes on hand to jot down quick notes.
- A smart clock to use as a clock, stopwatch, and Pomodoro timer.
- A bookstand to read books comfortably while at your desk.
- An extra-long charging cord to charge your phone from anywhere.
- A desk vacuum to get rid of all the eraser shavings.
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Preview each class
Just like you should in in-person school, you should research a little about each class before school starts to get an idea of what it will be like. Ideally, you should’ve done some research before you signed up for it, specifically into the following:
- The teacher and his/her teaching style and personality
- The amount of homework in the class
- The average grade students get in the class
- Number of large projects or papers
- How it will help you get closer to your academic or career goals
But as the semester approaches, you should also search for some outside resources that can help you succeed in the class. For example, if you heard that the biology class you’re taking is really difficult, find some websites, YouTube channels, and apps that could help.
Lastly, if you want to go the extra mile, preview your course materials to get an idea of what you’ll be learning over the course of the semester. This is optional and not expected, but if you’d like to, there’s nothing stopping you!
Have a planning system
Staying organized and accountable for yourself is extra difficult in online school, and that’s where having a reliable and effective planning system comes into play.
A planning system is highly beneficial because it helps you keep track of important dates and tasks, plan for and achieve goals, minimize unnecessary stress, and maintain structure in your life.
But what does an effective planning system consist of? Here are the basic essentials:
- Long-term, yearly planning. This is usually a calendar where you can mark important dates, such as holidays, birthdays, project due dates…
- Goal-setting page. Here, you should list some of your most important goals and break them down into actionable steps.
- Monthly planning. This is where you mark all the relatively important dates in the month, such as appointments, assignment due dates… You can also set short-term goals, set up habit trackers, etc.
- Weekly/daily planning. In my system, these two are the same and interchangeable. This is where I write to-do lists (on my physical planner) and time-block (on my digital calendar) for each day.
If you’d like more details on a planning system for students, you can check out the post below. In it, I included multiple recommendations for the best planners and journals for students, as well as how to set them up:
Stay in touch with friends
Online school lacks the interactions that in-person school offers, and this can turn serious without you even realizing it. Social interaction is important for everyone, especially teenagers, so you need to make a conscious effort to maintain it.
This may sound obvious, but you should try to talk to your friends often. Give them a call every once in a while (calling is often more intimate and comforting than texting), or video call sometimes.
If FaceTiming your friends out of the blue sounds awkward, try hosting virtual study sessions or movie nights! These could be opportunities for you to bond and have fun together, even when it’s online.
I hope this post was helpful and was able to fully prepare you for your online school semester! Leave a comment with what you’re most nervous or excited about this semester!
If you’re looking for more posts like this one, check out these related posts:
- 9 Powerful Daily Habits For Productivity
- 5 Stupid Simple Lists Every Student Should Be Making
- The Ultimate Guide To Studying From Home