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7 Tips for Preparing for an Online Fall Semester

The fall semester is fast approaching!

As COVID-19 cases continue to surge throughout the country, many schools are considering a push for online classes once again.

As we navigate this new educational landscape, it’s important that students get ready for online learning.

Check out our 7 tips to prepare for an online fall semester below!

1. Get the right computer: We know not every student has computer access. While many schools will be offering temporary laptops for students in need, printable school materials, and WiFi hotspots, having a home computer dedicated for online learning is especially important right now – as many parents and students will be working from these devices during the same hours of the day.

If you’re in the market for a computer with the basic specs for online distanced learning, you’ll want to look for a device with the following management systems:

  • A 250 GB hard drive or higher.

  • A 4 GB RAM or higher.

  • A 2.0 GHz Intel or AMD processor.

  • Windows 10 or MAC OS 10.10 or later.

  • Microsoft Edge, Firefox 48 or later.

  • Safari 11 or later.

  • An anti-virus program.

  • A computer with a microphone and speakers.

  • A web camera.

  • A high-speed Wi-Fi connection that can be obtained at home or from an outside source.

For more information on computers suitable for online learning, click here.

There are also a lot of different charities throughout the country that are working to put new and used computers in the hands of children in need. If you’re interested in applying for a computer or donating any used electronics, check out these groups: Computers for Kids, RRR Computer, and Computers 2 Kids.

And when it comes to setting up your device with the necessary programs, there are a ton of free alternatives for software suites like Microsoft Word. Click here to learn more.

2. Get organized: The best way to manage stress throughout the school year is to get organized right off the bat. It’s important that students save and read through all of their class syllabi. Your syllabus sets the teacher’s expectations for the semester, and has all the important dates for exams, projects, and papers. We also recommend printing all worksheets and assignments when you can, since working with an actual document can be easier to read and complete rather than working solely off of a computer screen.

3. Practice time management: Taking online classes can be a lot more work than traditional classes. Sit down in the beginning of the semester and make a study calendar for each class for the next few months. Follow your study plan so you don’t fall behind in your classes. It’s essential that you schedule enough time for each class to complete all work and assignments. Treat studying like a job. A great way to plan ahead for each class is to calendar specific dates and deadlines. Having a white board set up in your home learning space is a great tool for creating daily to-do lists or marking important dates.

4. Create a quiet study space: With online classes come a few more distractions. Before the fall semester begins, create a quiet study space in your home where you can attend these virtual classes and study. Make studying at the same time each day part of your routine. In your home study space, you’ll want to have the following items:

  • Computer access.

  • A comfortable chair.

  • A desk or table to work off of.

  • The necessary computer software.

  • A printer and paper.

  • Traditional school supplies.

  • A calendar.

  • A backpack and school binders.

5. Utilize online resources: One of the benefits of online learning is that you have a lot more resources at your fingertips. Take advantage of online libraries and conduct additional research on your own. The more you can really dive into a subject, the better prepared you will be for your classes and assignments.

6. Participate online: Just because you are attending classes virtually, does not give you a free pass to slack on participation. Utilize all online discussions – writing your thoughts and ideas out in posts or comments or speaking with your teacher and classmates directly will help you get in some extra studying and better understand the material.

7. Take breaks: Burnout is a real thing, so it’s important that you give yourself a few breaks during the school day to recharge your system. Give yourself 5-minute breaks every hour to walk around, stretch, and have a snack, before coming back to your desk. This will help you feel a bit more refreshed for your next class or assignment.

While regular breaks are important, don’t use this time as an excuse to catch up on TV, scroll through your social media, or play a video game. All distractions should be limited until after your schoolwork has been completed.

In an online learning environment, accountability is key. Following these tips will help you stay on top of all of your classes and assignments and keep you accountable each day. However, if you ever feel like you’re beginning to fall behind, it’s important to get some additional help right away.

At Jill’s Tutors, we work with an extensive teacher’s network of online tutors and educators, available for all levels of learning and in all subjects. Simply visit our website, call or text 512-598-5135 or email us at, and we’ll set you up with one of our talented, remote educators.

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