Student tips - Survival habits in the online classroom

June 19, 2017 · 3 min read · By Justin Wilmeth
Routine is essential to success in online classes. Hear from an ASU Online graduate about what it takes to build a schedule and good study habitats while pursuing a degree online. 

Although old habits die hard, the routine you create to meet your education commitments can be as regimented or as loose as you’re comfortable with - it’s entirely up to you.

But, in the world of online education, once you make a decision about your routine, you’ve got to stick with it.

I remember the old days, when my day was dictated by the class schedule and getting from one end of campus to the other. I also remember arriving to the classroom, barely staying awake through the lecture and then heading home to relax. With the guiding hand of a class schedule, as long as you attended class and paid attention, you could do well and earn a decent grade. Being in the room with the professor and other students kept you accountable, even if you didn’t want to be.

But what about the online schooling world? If you’re not accountable to you, then you won’t do well. There are no set class schedules at ASU Online, it’s entirely on your shoulders to “go” to class and complete homework. Typically, every online class at ASU has a weekly deadline for tests, quizzes or homework, but because there are no set times for class you can do the work at your own pace. This is both a blessing and a curse of finishing college in this format. Our fellow on-campus Devils have a net - they have a schedule of courses and must appear in person to complete these courses. Going to class keeps them moving, like a guided tour. They are told where to look and when to move to the next exhibit.

With ASU Online, we’re taking a self-guided tour to achieve our educational goals. It’s up to us how long we spend on a chapter, topic or assignment. Because of that, we must be more focused, disciplined and serious in order to graduate. While ASU Online has an excellent array of professors leading the electronic classroom, there is no attendance taken. Miss a Monday or Tuesday? That makes Wednesday, Thursday and Friday more difficult. Do all your work on Tuesday? Congrats, you now have a five day weekend. With ASU Online, the schedule is really up to you, just make sure you’re meeting the weekly deadlines of the course.

My advice? Tailor your activity toward how you operate in life. If you like to do work an hour or two at a time, then divide your weekly work and reading over several days. If you like a couple of shorter, bigger blocks, then do your work on Wednesday for several hours at a time and follow up on Sunday afternoon to finish off the weekly work. I like to check in on the class early in the week in short sessions, then a big session later in the week. I know plenty of people who complete their work way ahead of time, and then have the rest of the week to relax. That’s not how I’m built, but to each their own!

This is ultimately a great thing about ASU Online - you have almost total control over your schedule. No class times means class on your time. It’s freeing and wonderful - but you have to stay on task because we have no net here. In this version of college, the term “sink or swim” has an entirely new meaning and you have to really want this to survive.


About the author

Justin Wilmeth is a graduate of Arizona State University. He earned his degree through ASU Online. 

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