Organizational Tips for the Online Student

Book with highlighted areasBeginning online courses can be a challenging endeavor for an unorganized student. However, students who follow Florida National University’s organizational tips are sure to see success in their near future!

1. The First Step

The first step to staying organized is just that: actually staying organized as the year moves along. It is easy to lose focus as the semester goes on, without purposeful and practical techniques in place to keep everything in line.

2. Be Realistic

When picking a schedule, it is easy for students to overload themselves with a large number of credits; doing so, however, will prevent them from properly executing assignments and can easily lead to poor organization overall. By taking the time to create a realistic schedule, online students will feel more organized during any given point in the semester.

Students who are new to taking online courses should be cautious: even for the seasoned student, getting comfortable with online learning takes time; it is a different experience than learning in the traditional setting. Therefore, even experienced university students might struggle with organization through their first online semester.

3. Purchase Materials in a Timely Manner

As with any course, students should purchase the required course materials they need before the semester begins. This is especially important for online courses, as communication can be difficult or even impossible when students do not prepare accordingly.

Furthermore, it is crucial for students to review, understand, and adhere to any technical requirements needed for each online course. Typical requirements might include access to a computer with Windows 7 or higher, Google docs, Microsoft Office, video and audio capabilities, though it will depend on the course and the professor. Failing to do so can result in missed information, inability to access the virtual classroom, or late assignments.

4. Create a Consistent Work Area

By consistently and uniformly setting aside time to complete tasks, students will stay on top of their assignments. This will enable individuals to focus, while treating the classroom with respect. The mistake that many online students make is treating the course less seriously than courses on campus—however, online classes affect a student’s GPA equally.

5. Stop Assuming

Students who assume that they will remember and complete assignments without writing them down are likely in for a surprise. It is important to write down information regarding all assignments, but it is especially crucial to write down the dates for quizzes and tests! This will not only keep students organized, but this will help them remember the dates more easily. Recent studies have found that the act of physically writing down information leads one to recall this information better than the act of recording information with a keyboard.

6. Utilize Useful Apps and Websites

One of the best answers to resolve student disorganization is to make use of apps or websites that are designed to provide a clear, easily understood schedule. There are several smart phone and tablet applications, along with great websites to help students succeed when learning online. The following are some useful resources:

  • iProcrastinateAvailable on Mac and iPhones, this app helps students create to-do lists, and other tasks on their computer or phone. This information is easily accessible for future use.
  • OutlinerFormatted for iPhones and iPads so that students can organize class notes, projects, and other tasks, this app has been proven very useful. It uses Dropbox, meaning that students have a quick and easy resource to share information, documents, assignments, notes, projects, and more.
  • SquareleafThis system basically creates virtual sticky notes. Forgetful? Need a quick and simple reminder throughout the week?  Squareleaf is a simple, sweet solution to this problem (don’t worry; you won’t forget next Thursday’s quiz on chapter 7).
  • Remember the Milk- This is a simple website that is available on personal computers and smart phones. Students can create lists and add due dates through email, text message, or through their account on the webpage.

7. Don’t Fear the Traditional Planner

As today’s students are growing more and more dependent on the Internet as an overall resource, less are utilizing the traditional, paper planner. However, this type of planner is still an effective source, especially for students that need a tactile way to organize information. Anyone who struggles taking an online course probably also struggles with using online planners. A physical, book-style planner or calendar is highly beneficial to help keep these students sane.

8. Take Planning Seriously

That being said, students must plan their course into their daily schedule. Not doing so can lead students to feeling overwhelmed. Online courses should be treated with the same regard as a traditional classroom; successful learners allocate studying and homework time into their daily or weekly schedule, taking care to complete assignments in a timely manner, before due dates.

9. Check in Daily

One last reminder—always check the virtual classroom, daily. Becoming familiar with the class material, student and professor discussions, and the assignments section will ensure that students will never miss a beat, and that is one way to excel! In fact, students who look ahead weeks and months in advance know what to expect—these students are able to plan accordingly.

Florida National University: Online Courses Available

Armed with these tips, students are bound for success. Interested in online learning? Browse our courses to see if any interest you. Florida National University is an accredited institution offering online, hybrid, and traditional classroom courses. If you are ready to kick start your learning career, apply today!