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What You Need to Know About Learning Online—from Students Who’ve Been There

Written by Stephen Eichinger on Mar 25, 2020

Related content: Graduate Programs, Short Courses, Digital Education

Spring break is typically a time for students to take a breather, cut loose, recharge, and then return to campus ready to finish out their spring terms. This year is decidedly different. Many students will not be going back to their campuses due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19. Classes are being held online, so students will be learning online, many for the first time. As faculty members grapple with how they will quickly transition to online teaching, students must similarly adapt to a digital classroom.

Adapting isn’t necessarily easy, but it doesn’t have to be impossible. 2U employees (2Utes) in particular understand this because they’ve been there. Many 2Utes have graduated from 2U-powered degree programs, short courses, and boot camps and many others are currently enrolled.

To help students who now must adjust to a new way of learning, we asked 2Utes for their most helpful tricks, strategies, and save-the-day hacks for learning online. We received so many great responses that we’ll be running a second post, so check back later for more tips.

In the meantime, start here for day one advice.

What helpful advice were you given before beginning your program?

“Have a designated space to do schoolwork and sign on to class. It helps get you in the headspace of ‘I’m not home; I’m at school.’”

– Brigette A., Student, MBA@American

“Be clear with the other people in your house about when you need to study undisturbed and what your class schedule is.”

– Margaret R., Graduate, MBA@UNC

Be proactive in forming teams for group projects. Build out a framework and meet early.
— Matt B., Student, iSchool@Syracuse

“Choose project topics where your passion lies, not on what's easiest to do.”

– Christa S., Student, MBA@UNC

“You can do it. It's impossible to imagine how you'll fit it all in, but you do. It becomes your new normal.”

– Monica R., Graduate, MBA@UNC

What tips can you offer on time management?

“Use a calendar. Write down all due dates before the beginning of the semester and plan accordingly.”

– Christa S., Student, MBA@UNC

Create a specific space and schedule time to do work. Try to maintain the same schedule you did when attending classes on campus.
— Elizabeth P., Graduate, DataScience@Berkeley

“Start early, and set a goal for being a week ahead on your assignments! Life happens, so give yourself a time buffer.”

– Matt B., Student, iSchool@Syracuse

“Use your weekends wisely. Try to finish a module or two on a Saturday or Sunday.”

“I like to dedicate time at the end of each day to a unit or module within the course and finish it before moving on.”

“Schedule your study time as well as your live classes. Treat them both the same when it comes to sticking to that schedule. It is easy to fall behind on the async if you don't have dedicated time.”

– Margaret R., Graduate, MBA@UNC

“If you are like me, you find yourself working your day job into the evenings and sometimes on the weekend. Being in a program has honestly helped me set work boundaries.”

– TJ S., Student, MBA@Syracuse

“Do a little bit each day. The course content is extremely rich and insightful. Trying to cram all of your learning, engagement, and assignments into one evening means you'll often gloss over core concepts and feel an unnecessary time-crunch.”

What do you wish you had known before you started your program?

“How much I would love learning, had missed learning, and loved connecting with people who were doing that with me.”

– Monica R., Graduate, MBA@UNC “You need to be very intentional in building relationships.”

– Margaret R., Graduate, MBA@UNC

“How tough balancing it all can be. Life can be busy and complicated, and finding some dedicated time to carve out to study towards something can really be a challenge. Understanding this and evaluating your priorities can really help find the balance through it all.”

Don't be intimidated by the content. Don't fear what you don't know. Don't underestimate what you already know.
— Christina M., Student, Strategic Communications at Columbian College of Arts and Sciences at the George Washington University

“I wish I knew it would fly by so quickly. I would have started being more intentional about forming friendships earlier on!”

– TJ S., Student, MBA@Syracuse

In an upcoming post, 2Utes will reveal their most indispensable tech tips for learning online, how to build great relationships with their peers and professors, their go-to online learning aids, and more. Come back and keep on reading The Latest.

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