4 Ways to Balance Online Courses with Traditional Courses

By Kailey Walters on February 12, 2019

It’s the start of a new semester and you realize this is the first time you’ll be taking an online course. While you’re probably used to attending classes regularly in person, “showing up” for an online class may be a somewhat novel experience. Balancing these two types of classes at the same time could also be a bit of a challenge, which is why you should read on for some tips on how to handle both online and traditional courses.

via Pexels

1. Recognize that online courses may require you to be a bit more self-disciplined and motivated than traditional courses.

When it comes to handling both online and traditional courses, it’s important to recognize the key differences between them, especially in terms of workload and what is expected of you. Traditional classes often tend to be fairly structured, with professors handing out a syllabus at the beginning of the semester and giving students regular, in-person reminders of upcoming deadlines for assignments, papers, and exams. If you are a procrastinator, traditional classes may be a bit more helpful to you in terms of staying organized and on top of your responsibilities.

In contrast, online classes tend to be somewhat less structured because you won’t be meeting your professor in class on a regular basis — which means keeping yourself accountable to get things done in a timely manner. What’s more, online classes are designed to be flexible enough for students to take them at home, which means you will need some extra motivation and self-discipline to keep yourself going.

Recognizing these differences, and knowing how you will react to them, is important for figuring out a strategy to balance online and traditional classes. If you know that you need more of a structured environment, take steps to make that happen for yourself. Perhaps use the schedule from one of your traditional classes as a loose template for your online classes, so you at least have something to help you stay on track.

2. Stay organized.

As briefly mentioned above, it is of utmost importance to stay organized if you want to do well in both your traditional and online courses. Creating a schedule for yourself is helpful in keeping all of your responsibilities and priorities straight.

Get yourself a planner, pull out your syllabi, and write down everything that’s important for the semester. That means penciling in when each of your assignments is due, upcoming exams, and even personal notes to remind yourself what you should be doing on a regular basis to stay up to date.

Make sure you are allotting yourself enough time to get things done. Time management honestly goes for any class you take, whether traditional or online, but it’s especially important when you need to manage yourself a bit more than usual. Sometimes it may even be easy to forget about your online courses, or simply push them off to the side — but don’t give in to that temptation. Instead, make sure you remember and stay up to date on what you have to do for your courses.

3. Manage your time well.

What naturally goes along with staying organized is managing your time efficiently. A benefit of online classes is that you can easily check in on what’s happening with your course, as long as you have Internet access. Having that easy accessibility can go a long way towards helping you stay on top of your responsibilities.

Being intentional about when and where you do your work is also very helpful. Set aside time blocks in your daily schedule to get things done for each of your classes. If atmosphere is important to you, plan out where you will go to study and do homework so that you can be as focused as possible.

4. Know yourself and play to your strengths.

Since traditional and online classes utilize very different formats, it’s crucial to recognize which type of class suits you best. For example, online classes often occur in the form of video lectures, discussion forums, and perhaps even video chat. If you enjoy learning through these modes, it’s helpful that you know that about yourself and take advantage of your strengths. That might mean signing up for more online classes in the future, or even simply being able to look forward to those classes because you know you’ll learn effectively.

On the other hand, if you prefer a traditional classroom, take advantage of that and all that it brings: face-to-face interactions with professors and other students, physical attendance, and in-person, live lecturing.

While you may prefer one over the other, having both is a good balance and allows you to experiment with different learning styles.

When balancing online courses with traditional ones, it’s definitely important to stay focused and organized. Stick to a schedule and you’ll be sure to do well!

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