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How to deal with online classes

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Amber Soland | The Daily Wildcat

With some classes at the University of Arizona being online for the fall semester, the Daily Wildcat has some tips to help you succeed.

Given the three alternatives to traditional in-person instruction starting this fall at the University of Arizona, at least one online class seems inevitable for most students. Luckily, the Daily Wildcat has some tips from experts on how to make the most of your online class(es). 

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Touch base with instructors

America Darling Curl, an information science and e-society student at the UA, has taken over half of her classes for her major online. She recommended emailing the instructor one week prior to the start date. 

“I always try to email my instructors, at least a week ahead of time. Now, with shipping and COVID and things like that, maybe two weeks ahead of time,” Curl said. “I want to know what books are going to be on the syllabus and maybe even get a copy of the syllabus. … I try to email with a little bit of leeway so that I can get my books and I can know, ‘Do I actually have time in my schedule to take this class?’”

Treat an online course like you would treat a traditional course

Cassandra Ott-Kocon, assistant director for Eller College of Management’s online program, recommended blocking time off specifically for your online course.

“Try to create a space free of distraction if you can — keeping the tv off and phones tucked away during your ‘class time’,” Ott-Kocon said via email.

She also recommended online students make a connection with fellow classmates.

“Make an effort to get to know your classmates [the] same as you would in-person so that you can serve as resources to each other in addition to your professor,” Ott-Kocon said in an email.

Take breaks when you need them

Curl recommended breaking work off into chunks instead of trying to tackle everything at once. 

“Take a step back,” Curl said. “You do need to have breaks. It’s okay to watch YouTube for a little bit. Don’t try to get it all done at once.”

If you find yourself struggling

Both Ott-Kocon and Curl said communication is important if you find yourself falling behind in your online class. Curl said online classes provide a lot of information in a short period of time, so it’s okay to feel overwhelmed.

“Be really nice, be pretty helpful in your first email because you don’t know their personality so it always helps to be really really respectful in your first email and say, ‘Hey I’m having a little bit of an issue with this,’” Curl said. “And absolutely do not wait until the last minute. If you have something due in two days, don’t wait until nine the night of.”

Ott-Kocon recommended reaching out to advisers, classmates or professors depending on the specific issue. 

“In person, the people physically around you may be able to read the room or your body language whereas that is more difficult to do online,” Ott-Kocon said in an email. “Staying in contact with your professors, peers, and advisors can help them to better understand how to support you.”


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UA COVID-19 Test Tracker

Daily (9/27)
1,051 36 3.4%
Total (8/4)
36,634 2,291 6.3%
Includes tests since August 4, 2020
Data from https://covid19.arizona.edu/updates
Updated September 27, 2020