Salute to Spouses Blog

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Overcome First Week Jitters

By Jenna Moede

Have you ever felt like a lost wanderer? Trust me, I’m waving my arms wildly over here. I totally felt that way not during the admission process but during the first overwhelming classes of my online college career. 

Finding a good groove in my online classes took a while for me, but through some trial and error, I figured out how to calm my jitters as each new semester started and feel prepared to take on my classes.

First, check your email. After you enroll in your classes check weekly, if not more often, to make sure you don’t miss any important deadlines, course material changes or tips and tricks from professors. 

I’ve had emails about each of those show up in my inbox, and after my trouble with financial check in, I learned my lesson about the importance of school email.

Once I even had a professor who sent us a list of helpful hints from prior students for mastering the class content, but a group member of mine had no idea until the end of the class because he never checked his email.

Learn from his mistake (and mine) and check for those types of little gems, and other important class information, regularly in your inbox. 

You should now have access to your class syllabus and course breakdown too. These could come via email or you may have to locate them on your class platform, but read them both.  

I barely glanced at a syllabus when I studied on campus but with classes online, the syllabus is non-optional.

You will discover so much valuable information including the expected class conduct, participation and policies like late submissions and missed deadlines.

The syllabus will likely contain the grading scale too. Your professors may use similar or university mandated scales, but starting the semester knowing the scale will help you set your goals.   

You should also locate your professor’s office hours. Knowing when he or she has time available comes in handy when you end up in a bind. It seems to happen to everyone at some point.

Next, you should take an in depth look at the course breakdown. My professors included major assignments and deadlines at the beginning of each semester along with the types of assignments to expect.

I always keep a personal planner so I copied the deadlines into my planner and wrote reminders a week early for each assignment. If I had more than one class, I typically color-coded in my planner so I could easily identify which class the assignment belonged to.

I had professors who added smaller assignments along the way but my coded planner made it a lot easier for me to recognize due dates quickly. I also could plan early for weeks that had important overlapping deadlines between classes.

After all of that, I usually put the course breakdown on the bulletin board near my desk so I could see assignments coming up at a glance.

You might think you’re set now, but don’t forget to check your equipment and materials before you barrel in. Make sure you have a strong internet connection, all the office supplies you will need, a notebook, and your required class materials.

Online classes depend completely on reliable equipment. 

I found out the first week of one semester that I had a keyboard that wouldn’t type the letter “A”, and it did not make me a happy student. I swear the keyboard had no problems the week before but I didn’t make sure. Hopefully save yourself the annoyance by checking.

As far as materials, double check on the syllabus that you have everything required, and remember the professor may add a new book or website login at the last second.

Okay now start your first week!

Complete any first week work like introduction posts and acknowledgements of the course conduct.

Check due dates carefully! The deadlines the can differ from standard weeks during the first and last weeks of a class!

If you fail to do one of the required items the first week, depending on school policy, the professor could drop you from the class. On the other hand, you could end up with a miserable grade at the end of the class too if you fail to submit a final project or exam.

I didn’t figure out the deadline issue until my second semester. At the end of my first online class, I surprisingly discovered that the last week of classes had an early deadline. I had a mess to clean up for one of my final projects.

To avoid any pitfalls or mistakes like that your first week, keep these steps in mind and start paving your way through the semester. Good luck!  

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