Air conditioning and coffee.

With both Humber College and Guelph-Humber announcing all summer 2020 courses will now be delivered online/remotely, many students are left feeling uncertain, scared, and scrambling.

This is uncharted territory for some. And online classes—as I’ve come to learn—require serious time management, discipline, and lots of support. Getting through a lecture without becoming distracted by memes is a struggle in a traditional classroom setting, let alone in your bedroom.

Salt guy sprinkeling memes

But, it’s not all doom and gloom!

Many benefits come with online learning. If you’re out-of-province like me (or the country), you can save on moving expenses. Learning remotely also provides more flexibility. From where you attend your online lecture to what time you review your slides, you can cater to your schedule!

Feeling ambitious? If you have more time on your hands and your profs have posted their lectures in advance, you can work ahead to lighten your load in the future.

But to reap the benefits of online schooling, you must get ahead of the game and prep for the semester.

Here’s how:

1. Write down important dates from your syllabus/critical path

The simpsons, calendar and Homer daying "one down, 29 to go."

Okay, so looking at your syllabus/critical path can be daunting. It’s essentially of document of every reading, assignment, project, and test that could make or break your year—no pressure.

During my first semester, I avoided these at all costs. But that habit caught up quickly. However scary, I learned to love a good ol’ critical path because of how prepared I felt each week when I knew what was to come.

As an online student. your syllabus/critical path will become your best friend. What’s overwhelming at the beginning of the semester, when you have no knowledge whatsoever going into the course, will transform into your saving grace as assignments pile up. You can truly plan out week by week what you need to focus on.

Which leads me to my next point…

2. Get on a schedule 

Somone smashing their alarm clock at 6 a.m.

With all the flexibility that comes with online/remote learning, comes the challenge of creating a schedule.

The beauty of going to class every day is the routine you create. To replicate this routine, wake up at the same time every day, plan out what you want to focus on, and make a to-list of what you need to cover before ending your “school day.”

Not only can having a daily routine anchor you amid chaos, but it also helps to reduce stress and improves sleep. If there’s one thing a post-secondary student needs, its more sleep and less stress. Do yourself a favour by establishing a schedule early on to help you crush your course goals.

3. Set goals for the semester

bullet journal, setting goals

Speaking of goals, set some! A new semester is a perfect time to set some academic goals to work toward.

 Whether it’s studying more to get that glowing GPA or a vow not to let assignments slip, goals will help keep you motivated and focused. Not to mention, the feeling of finally achieving something after weeks is unmatched. 

This term might already be drilled into your head, but just like in business, you want to create SMART goals. What is a SMART goal, you ask? They are goal-specific to what you want, measurable to track results, achievablerelevant and worthwhile for you and timely. These are the key ingredients to creating a goal you are destined to reach!

4. Get to know your classmates virtually

Rachel from Friends saying "being alone sucks."

Suffering through ice breakers can arguably be one of the worst parts about starting a new class.

However, ice breakers allow for you to connect and get to know your newfound community. The people in your program can turn into your family. These are valuable people to have as a resource; they can help with assignments, studying, and let you vent when you’re frustrated with a class. Your classmates get it because they’re right there with you.

The beautiful part about online classes? You can skip over the awkward face-to-face interactions and simply send someone a message! Reach out, connect, and form a killer study group. You’ll be grateful during mid-terms to have some pals around to get you through.

5. Create a workspace you love working in

Dog in bed working from home

As tempting as it is to forget the idea of pants and lay in bed all day doing school work, it’s not the most motivating workspace.

It doesn’t help your sleep either! By working and eating in the same space you sleep, when it comes time to hit the hay, your brain associates your bed as a workplace rather than a sleeping place.

Instead, keep devices away from your bed at night. During the day, work in a space that you want your brain to associate with activity. Think home office, kitchen table, or desk in your room. This will help not only your sleep but productivity during school hours.

Online schooling will not be the demise of your education. Set yourself up for success and come to embrace the learning opportunities that come with it!


Hear from Humber and Guelph-Humber students on the biggest lessons they learned this year.

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