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Key Tips for High School Students Transitioning to Online Learning

Key Tips for High School Students Transitioning to Online Learning

Many students across the country taking their learning online, so we wanted to share some top tips for transitioning to online learning.

Online learning may not be the ideal learning style for all students, but many skills of the skills required for virtual instruction are essential and transferable to college. Through online learning students learn independence, time management, technological literacy, self-motivation, and organization. Think of your virtual classroom experience like training for your future college career!

1.  Have a schedule...that works for you.

Having a schedule or routine is key for online learning. Schedules breed habits, and habits make it easier for our bodies and minds to focus and learn. Schedules are important, but there isn’t a ONE SIZE FITS ALL approach.

We’ll let you in on a little secret. Everyone is not wired the same when it comes to their peak learning times. Some students are morning people and prefer to complete their work early in the day. Other students perform best in the afternoon. Setting a rigid schedule that doesn’t meet your preferences is a recipe for disaster.

Figure out your schedule, but also be reasonable. Trying to convince your parents that you’re going to do your schoolwork from midnight to 3 am might not be that easy.

Want to learn more about biological rhythms and ideal timing? Check out Daniel Pink's TedTalk on The Science of Timing.

2. Take breaks.

When practicing sports, we stop and rehydrate our bodies. When learning, we need to stop and re-energize our brains. The brain accounts for 20% of the body's energy use, so it’s critical to give it a break during key learning periods. How often you take a break and for how long depends on your needs. Breaks will make you more productive and help you stay focused. Take a walk or eat an energizing snack during your break.

Want break reminders? Try setting an alarm on your computer or cell phone. Or try the Pomodoro Technique. This popular time management practice breaks work into 25 minute intervals followed by a short break. You can find out more about the Pomodoro App here.

3. Create your space.

Our bodies and minds are creatures of habit. The more we use a single physical space to do our virtual schooling, the more our minds begin to associate the space with learning. Pick a space that works for you. It should be comfortable, quiet and have good lighting. Keep your space organized. While the bulk of your learning should occur in your dedicated space, don’t be afraid to go outside to read a book, or sit in a cozy chair to review your notes. Sometimes mixing up your location can stimulate your brain and reengage you in learning.

If you are going to spend a lot of time at a computer each day, consider reading this article on 25 Ergonomic Tips for Students When Working at the Computer. Ergonomics is the study of people's efficiency in their working environment

4.  Set goals.

A key to online learning is setting daily and weekly goals for yourself. In some cases, your teachers or instructors may set the pace of the class and provide expectations. In other cases, you will have a deadline or project and you must determine how to pace your learning so that you complete the assignment on time.

Start by setting small goals each day. A daily goal might be, “I want to complete my reading assignment before I take my first break for the day.” You might even try making it a game. See how far you can get in your lesson within a given amount of time. Time yourself. Or reward yourself with a 10-minute walk outside when you finish reviewing your notes or complete an assignment.

Set weekly goals too. For example, maybe you want to complete a certain set of lessons or tasks before the week’s end. Make sure your daily and weekly goals are realistic. Expecting to read a 900-page novel in one day isn’t realistic.

This set of daily and weekly goals and prioritizing tasks is time management 101. Time management is an essential skill for college and your career! It’s one of the most important skills you’ll ever learn.

Learn more about time management skills for high schoolers.

5.  Use this time to explore interests and hobbies.

Learning is defined as “the act or process of acquiring knowledge or skill.” Yes, virtual classrooms often come with certain pre-defined expectations, but you can also use online learning as an opportunity to explore interests outside of the classroom!

Use this time to research careers and majors. Look into universities of interest. Learn how to play the guitar. Watch Youtube videos on science experiments and try a few at home (safely of course). True learning is about discovering what you are passionate about and fostering that interest. Make time for unstructured learning through virtual mediums! Teaching your brain new things can be fun and rewarding. Make it a point to explore your interests each day, even if it’s only for 5 minutes.

Learn how hobbies can help you on your college applications and beyond!

At Summer Discovery, we provide in-person pre-college summer experiences that allow you to develop many of these skills and traits. Our courses our currently taught at 14 of the top universities across the globe. Learn more about Summer Discovery and how we can connect you to college success.


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