student life

Written By: DiveThru Team

Reviewed By: Natalie Asayag MSW, LCSW


10 Easy Steps to Adjust to Online Classes

PUBLISHED Aug 7th, 2020 & UPDATED ON Feb 13th, 2023

Depending on where you are in the world, your exact timeline of events may be a little different. But for the most part we can assume that the beginning of 2020, specifically March, hit us like a freight train. One minute we were walking the hallways with our friends, whispering about our cute classmate, and then all of a sudden, we weren’t. Somehow along the way we landed here, wondering how we can adjust to online classes.

Morning commutes, heavy backpacks, group presentations, and every sense of normalcy disappeared. We were left with a single email, a makeshift home desk, and a whole lot of worries.

 With school set to start up again soon, many of us will be diving (back) into the world of online learning. Although the tips here are geared towards college students, they can easily be applied to any sort of virtual work whether it be a career, internship, or community position. 

Without further ado, 10 actionable tips to help you adjust to online classes and transition to virtual learning!

1. Make a Schedule for Class Time AND Homework Time

This is the one, folks. It’s first on the list for a reason. Despite the obvious differences, the more you can keep your online classes like normal classes, the better. 

Make a schedule that incorporates your lectures, assignments, study time, and free time. Plan out your days, weeks, and months and stick to them as closely as you can. This will give you a nice routine and a sense of normalcy (although what even is normal anymore?). 

There are tons of different scheduling methods out there: handwritten agendas, electronic calendars, block scheduling, apps, you name it. Test them all out until you find one that works for you. Then follow it like a duckling to its mama. 

2. Eliminate Distractions

And we thought it was hard to focus during live lectures. Oh boy. 

Whether it’s a busy household or a busy cell phone, it’s 42849 times easier to be distracted while working at home. Speaking from experience, of course. Even if you can’t get rid of all of the distractions, try to find a way to at least minimize them. 

Share a copy of your class schedule with your family so they know when to keep the volume down (if that’s possible). Hide the TV remote in another room and, while you’re at it, leave your phone there too. Taking these proactive steps will help you stay more focused and keep your schoolwork on track. 

3. Have a Dedicated Workspace

When you’re spending so much time at home, it’s important to have designated spaces within that home. As appealing as it may be to work from your bed, it can get old pretty quickly and the lines of your schedule may start blurring a bit. 

You may find yourself working when you’re supposed to be relaxing and relaxing when you’re supposed to be working. Instead, create a welcoming study space so you know that when you’re there, you work. When you’re not, you don’t. 

Soon, that one flight of stairs to your desk will feel like your old bus ride to school. But hopefully it won’t take 30 minutes.  

4. Adjust How You Communicate Online

As if talking to profs wasn’t hard enough already, now we’re expected to talk to them without ever meeting them? Can they sense our fear through the little chat box in Zoom? Online communication adds an extra layer of difficulty because it’s so easy for messages to get misinterpreted. If you haven’t emailed a prof in a while, brush up on how to write a proper email as well as their expectations for responding.

Pro Tip: Don’t start your email with “hey” when reaching out to a prof and for the love of all things good, don’t talk about your new Netflix obsession on the Zoom chat. There’s a time and place, my friends. And this is not it.

5. Ask Questions in Class

Raise your hand if you’ve heard this before: “If you have a question, chances are someone else has the exact same question.” 

Because it’s true. Especially now. If you’re worried it’s going to look like you don’t know what you’re doing, don’t be worried. 

Honestly, do any of us really know what we’re doing with all of this new technology? We’re all in the same boat and trying to figure things out as we go. Don’t be afraid to ask your instructor for help with aggregate supply and demand or ask a classmate for clarification on the paper guidelines. 

6. Use Your Resources

Believe us when we say that there are so many resources out there for online learning and working. Use them. Plus, most schools even have their own online learning resources that are specific to the technology and procedures they use. Start there and expand to the rest of the world wide web as needed.

7. Be Wary of Zoom Fatigue

There’s a reason you feel absolutely exhausted after your fourth Zoom meeting in four hours. And it’s called Zoom fatigue. Yep. It’s a thing. 

According to experts Liz Fosslien and Mollie West Duffy, video calls “force us to focus more intently on conversations in order to absorb information.” There are no non-verbal cues or stimulus breaks, and we spend a lot of time starting at our own faces, trying to make them look invested in the conversation. 

This explains why video meetings are so mentally and physically draining. A couple of ways to ease Zoom fatigue are to avoid multitasking, and switch to plain old phone calls when possible.  

P.S. For adorable and completely relatable workplace illustrations like the one below, check out @lizandmollie on Instagram. 


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A post shared by Liz and Mollie (@lizandmollie) on

8. Take Breaks in Between Classes

We used to be able to walk around campus, grab a coffee, or chat with friends between classes. Now we’re stuck in the same place for the majority of the day. 

In the spirit of treating online classes like the good old days, try getting up and taking a break every once in a while. Do something you love, get some exercise, or write in your journal. Step away from your screen for a few minutes and recharge (while your computer also recharges because, you know, Zoom).

9. Acknowledge How You’re Really Feeling

Changing everything you know is hard. Anyone who says it’s not is lying. It’s important to check in with yourself and monitor how you’re feeling. As always, we recommend turning to journaling to sort through your emotions. 

The DiveThru app has an entire section dedicated to students including quick dives like ‘getting focused’ and ‘quieting test anxiety’. Try them out for free today by downloading the DiveThru app!

10. Be Patient. Everyone’s Learning.

This is a weird time for everyone. There isn’t a single person who can say they’ve experienced this before and are a pro at handling it. Everyone is trying to adjust at rapid speeds and there’s bound to be a few hiccups. Whether it’s with your school, your instructor, your group member, or yourself, be patient. Everyone’s trying their best to adjust to online classes.


Read More: 8 Ways Students Can Deal with Burnout Signs, 8 Steps for Finding the Right Career Path,