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How to Start Your Online Semester Strong

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How to Start Your Online Semester Strong


Say goodbye to summer, and here comes the fall semester, the start of another exciting school year. As some students may have started classes already, things are a bit different than usual this time. Most universities have officially announced that the entire upcoming semester will be fully conducted online. Awkward but real in-person “hellos” between first-time-met classmates has transformed into individual digital faces doing quick introduction with unstable audio connections in Zoom. Unfortunately, the online class mode will continue to be the top option for most universities until the pandemic is under control. Therefore, it is important for students to quickly adapt to the way of online education and actually learn knowledge not only to graduate but also to achieve future personal goals.

In the following article, we will be covering a few key points to help students better prepare and start the online school year strong.

Set a Strict Schedule

In-person classes canceled, face-to-face communications restricted, dorms closed. Students are either staying with their families or living most of the time in dormitories if not closed.

Spending a great amount of time within a single space (and near to your bed) will possibly lead to low concentration and a lack of motivation to work and study. A solution to this, without the risk of going outside, is to set yourself a strict time schedule and stick to it as best as you can. Once your course selection is done, sat down and organize your weekly time. Time to attend online classes, office hours, group work, review time…In this way, once you are used to living and studying in a structured routine, it is easier to pull yourself together, concentrate faster and get the necessary work done. Make sure to also save time for exercising, relaxing, and facetiming friends to light up your daily life.


Select Productive Study Tools

Though digital devices are popular in recent years, many professors still handed out printed materials in class or asked students to print out slides beforehand. However, in an online mode, professors can only distribute digital files and students tend to have restricted access to printers. It seems that everything has to go digital now. Therefore, a good selection of productive study tools & apps becomes more essential to students struggling between digital slides and notes.

  • Note-taking & organizing

GoodNotes: if you an iPad user, then this app is a go-to for notetaking. Many videos on how to take notes/make plans are listed on YouTube , feel free to check out and see what others do.

XMind: use mind maps and more structures to brainstorm essay ideas and organize study notes. Check out more possibilities to map your study notes with XMind here! A web edition has recently been launched as well - map anytime, anywhere.

Google Docs: the simplest note-taking document. Convenient to share with classmates, and easy for professors to comment on.

  • PDFs reviewing & highlighting

PDF Expert: the ultimate PDF app. There might be a learning curve at the beginning, but it is professional at keeping your scanned documents organized, studying and marking on periodicals…

Preview: if you are not planning to make an investment on apps, then any built-in applications like Preview on Apple devices is enough for you to edit, highlight and mark on PDFs.

Use School Resources as Usual

Once transformed into an online setting, many students become very distanced from school matters and fail to optimize the use of available school resources, including career services, library books, and writing centers. In fact, besides academic classes, most universities have transferred and continued to provide services online. So, remember that you can set up a Skype meeting with a career advisor, lend a pdf book online, or schedule a meeting with the writing center to do some essay revision work. Make the best of your tuition :-)


Thanks for reading today’s article! At the end of the day, what matters the most is to stay positive and motivated during this chaotic period. Dedicate to learn, no matter what. Make this semester a meaningful and valuable one, even it’s a bit different from the usual. Note that XMind always has special offers for students and educators, [learn more]( if interested. Wishing you the best, take care. Try Xmind Free
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