Online classes can help you get a degree quicker and simultaneously free up valuable time. As an added bonus, I was able to boost my GPA. A few tips for online class success include: securing proper Wi-Fi, messaging your professors, and choosing to work ahead.
It wasn’t until I was halfway through my undergraduate degree, that I decided I wanted to graduate early. That meant getting stuff done fast! I wasn’t smart enough to have brought in credits from high school. Plus, my tiny high school didn’t offer many transferable credits. Anyway, the internet makes everything faster — so, in order to graduate ASAP, I headed to the internet.
Not to mention, going to class was such a bother. You know that kid in class who always asks the dumbest questions? Jimmy was a repeat offender in one of my classes. “Dr. Thompson, I was gone last week. What did we do?” I always wanted to look at Jimmy and yell, “Pipe down, Jimmy! You’re wasting everyone else’s time. Ask the professor after class.”
With online classes, the Jimmy’s couldn’t waste my time. In fact, class time didn’t even exist. The online classes I took were self-taught. We were told what textbooks to buy, then we logged in to our online dashboard and navigated the courses ourselves. I had daily work to complete and tests to take. Complete the tasks with an A average and you get an A.
I spent the time I would have been in class completing assignments and taking tests. This appealed to my entrepreneurial side; I felt in control of my destiny. I alone could determine how my time would be spent.
All my online classes were three credits. Had they been on campus, I would have spent 45 minutes three times a week just sitting in class. Instead, I took those 2 hours and 15 minutes per week and spent that time completing assignments. Time wise (most weeks) it was like not having any homework! It was the most productive time of my life. I took online courses for two semesters and over one summer. During that time, I also went on three week long trips across the U.S., completed two internships in two different cities, and even kept up with a dating relationship. Online classes freed up my schedule something fierce. I had so much more time in my life!
In the classroom, my GPA was 3.2, but online it was a 4.0. I’m much better online. Think of your GPA like money: Being in a classroom is like working for someone else; you’re on their time. Taking classes online is like running your own business; I do what I want when I want (within reason).
I’ve never considered myself that smart or skilled at anything. No joke, I tied my shoes wrong until I was 16 and they would come undone twice a day. So these tips can definitely work for you. Here’s what I did to raise my GPA while taking online classes:
Hack #1: Pay Attention to Wi-Fi
Professors generally don’t let you get away with saying internet connection issues are why your test didn’t get taken. You may as well say the dog ate your homework. So make sure Wi-Fi won’t be an excuse.
I did a lot of schoolwork at my parents’ house. Their internet isn’t the best. No joke, the microwave causes the internet to crash. (Side note: I’ve read on Lifehacker that you can make some sort of tinfoil shroud to protect your router from the microwave.) One night when I was at my parents’ house, I had to pack up my laptop, textbooks, and notes and drive through a thunderstorm to get to my uncle’s house to use his internet to finish an exam. The test had to be done at midnight and, like I said, most professors do not give a dang about your Wi-Fi woes.
Hack #2: Test like MacGyver
Don’t know who MacGyver is? He’s from an 80s TV show and he uses things like dental floss and duct tape to conquer the world.
For online classes, I used everything at my disposal to reach my goals. Online tests are timed, so you can’t just Google every answer. We could, however, use textbooks, notes, etc. I spread everything out all around me in a U shape before a test. I stuck Post-it notes all over my textbooks on pages I thought would help during the test. My notes were splayed out individually. Accidentally turning on the ceiling fan would have been the difference between an A and a C.
Hack #3: Message Your Professors
Emailing professors shows them you care. This is especially important for online success. Make your presence known. If you build a relationship, they may even cut you some slack if you actually do have last-minute Wi-Fi problems.
Hack #4: Trust No One
I dodged group projects at all costs. Organizing people online is tricky. Everyone has to be motivated, and, obviously, not everyone is motivated to be in school. Often, my peers wouldn’t stay on top of our group projects, so I opted to be a lone wolf in most classes. It’s just easier that way. I love collaborating with people online outside of class though.
Hack #5: Work Ahead
I usually like to procrastinate, but online classes are timed, so, luckily, Parkinson’s Law doesn’t apply. Getting stuff done early will mean more time to work out any technical issues that may arise. Technology always breaks at the worst times, ya know? See above for Wi-Fi issues.
Using online classes saved me hundreds of hours and boosted my GPA from a 3.2 to a 4.0. Not only did online classes boost my GPA, they also freed up my time. And time is your most valuable asset. I was able to live in different cities, take trips to Arizona, Florida (Disney World!), and Boston, and complete two life-altering internships. And the best part: I didn’t have to waste my time sitting in class.
I also learned that I can earn my master’s degree online, should I want to put myself through that torture. Seriously, though, if I want to go back to school to complete a Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology, for example, I can get it done in as little as 20 months. This degree would set me up to work as a trial consultant, a law enforcement officer, a substance abuse counselor, or a community liaison. If I want to change careers in the future, I’ll certainly earn my new degree online.
A note of caution: It takes self-motivation to succeed at online courses.