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  • Writer's picture The Vindicator

Tips for Tackling Online Classes

One thing about being a CSU student is that you’ll probably have to take an online class at some point.


Written by Sophie Farrar





If you didn’t know (like I didn’t before my freshman year), Cleveland State University (CSU) has a large commuter population. Many students live in their nearby Northeast Ohio hometowns and make the trip onto campus when necessary for classes. If students don’t start as commuters, they may end as one, as many students choose to move to apartments outside of downtown Cleveland as their years at CSU go on. 


The high commuter population allows CSU certain leniencies when it comes to what they can and can’t get away with as a university. For example, students who live on-campus are very familiar with how dead campus becomes on weekends, when everything closes because the commuters are at home. Another allowance CSU has taken advantage of is the surplus of online classes they still offer. 


When COVID-19 was declared a pandemic in spring 2020, schools across the U.S. had to suddenly adapt and begin utilizing online classes like they never had before. When there was still limited knowledge about COVID-19 and vaccinations had yet to roll out, it made sense for schools to move to online learning to keep their students safe. However, as the years have gone on, online classes have remained popular among colleges, particularly at CSU. 


"Cleveland State University (CSU) has a large commuter population."

Personally, I had to take multiple classes required for my major and minors online because that was the only way they were offered, and I’ve had many friends forced to do the same. I think one reason that online classes remain so popular at CSU is because of the high commuter population. For commuters, it makes sense to take online classes and avoid the hassle of driving downtown. Even some of my friends who have lived on campus and had semesters of mainly online classes have preferred their schedule that way due to the flexibility it offers. However, some students who live on campus, including myself, are not particularly fond of the amount of online classes they’ve had to take. 


It can be difficult to remain motivated when taking online classes, particularly those that are asynchronous or have no scheduled meeting time. Synchronous classes, or classes that have a scheduled virtual meeting time throughout the week, are a little more manageable than the former because you at least have the routine of logging onto something like a Zoom call at a certain time on certain days. Synchronous classes come with their own difficulties, however, such as paying attention to a call when you aren’t required to have your camera on or when you don’t have someone in the room with you telling you to stay on-task. 


This semester, I had to take the most online classes in a single semester to date at CSU. I was enrolled in mostly online classes, with only one of my classes meeting in person. Additionally, all of my online classes were asynchronous. As much pain as this caused me, it also allowed me to become a pro in navigating online classes. 


My biggest tip when it comes to succeeding in online classes is to get out of your room!!! If you’re someone who works best in their own space, you can disregard this tip, but if you are someone who struggles to find motivation when they could be lying in bed, I cannot encourage doing schoolwork outside your room enough. It’s too easy to just sit in your room all day to work on online classes. Whether it’s simply moving from your desk to your dinner table or going to the library or a cafe, a change of scenery can help spur motivation and keep you on track. I find that being in a public space keeps me working as well because having other people around holds me accountable to get work done. Getting a little treat while working at a coffee shop can also serve as an incentive for you to finish your classwork. My favorite spots on campus to get work done are the tables on the fourth floor of the library by the Math Computer Lab, the tables on the third floor of Berkman Hall by the big windows that face the courtyard and the fourth floor of Berkman Hall in the lounge that faces Euclid Avenue. 


My second biggest tip is to create a schedule for yourself if your online classes don’t have one and to stick to it. If you aren’t meeting for a class at a certain time on certain days, assignments can quickly add up and get away from you. This can lead to wasting a day in front of a computer catching up to make sure you get everything in on time, or even missing points on assignments you turned in late. By creating a schedule for yourself, and holding yourself to it, you can make sure that your workload is evenly distributed throughout the week and that you aren’t losing points for late assignments. Use the schedule your courses offer to your advantage when budgeting your time. If a class has weekly units that open on Monday and are due Sunday night, don’t wait until Sunday to start working on assignments. Divide the work up throughout the week to help lessen the load overall. Google Calendar is a great resource for creating a schedule and keeping track of due dates. Notion is another online resource that has a lot of flexibility when it comes to planning for the semester and day-to-day. Physical planners, bullet journals and to-do lists are also options for those who prefer pen and paper. 


If CSU sticks you in an unavoidable online class that is required for your major or minor, I hope you find these tips helpful. If you’re an online class expert who seeks them out because you prefer them, I hope I could still offer some support to you. The spring semester is upon us. Start it off with your best foot forward!

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