My first experience with an online class was British Literature my sophomore year. I began the semester excited about the flexibility an online class provides and the idea that I could be “in class” in my pajamas at home. I mean, who wouldn’t love that? Well, after one agonizing semester full of coffee, headaches, and tears, I vowed to never take an online class again. I avoided them as best I could, but eventually had to take one my senior year. That semester had a few less midnight Taco Bell runs, but overall wasn’t much better than my sophomore year fiasco. I came to the conclusion that online classes just weren’t my “thing” and was thankful I was done with school and wouldn’t have to worry about it again.
Flash forward to the summer after graduation when I decided I wanted to become a librarian. I didn’t really know where to start but I knew that, after all the student loan debt I racked up during undergrad, it wouldn’t really be an option to not work during grad school. So I started by looking at programs that were affordable and near me. Problem was, the only ALA-accredited university in Missouri is the University of Missouri, which is about a two hour drive from where I live. The program offered a blend of online and on-campus options but they also offered an affordable, 100% online program, which is ultimately what I applied for.
So why, you may ask, did I enroll in a completely online MLIS degree through Mizzou when I clearly hated online classes? Above all, it’s so convenient. I’m still able to work full-time (at a library), it allows me to work ahead to prepare for weeks that may be crazy, and it’s taught me how to fine tune my study habits and work ethic. All of my classes this year met bi-weekly for an hour and half which was really helpful to see classmates on the screen and converse with the professors. I started the year with a planner I dedicated solely to school and wrote down all of the due dates as soon as the syllabi were posted. I also bought a giant wall poster to write down due dates as well, which was incredibly helpful to see the course load month-to-month.
I’m sure there’s a lot of tips to doing well in an online class/program but for me, the most important thing is to stay ahead. Even if you’re ahead by just a day or two you’ll feel so much more at ease. And there’s something satisfying about doing an assignment early and feeling like you’re the super-organized-perfect-student you’ve always wanted to be.
With that being said, I’ve only just finished my first semester of grad school so I’m certainly not an expert on the topic. Do you have any tips or tricks for excelling in online classes? Or any online class horror stories? Let me know in the comments below!