When I decided to come back to school three years ago, the thought of taking online classes seemed very overwhelming. This was a completely new concept for me, and since I have attention deficit disorder, I was worried that I would fall behind or become easily distracted.

I incorporated a strategy called “PLAN” that worked for me, and now, as many of my fellow Mercerians enter the world of distance learning, I want to share it with you.

The PLAN strategy works like this:

P – Prioritize: Online classes carry the same importance as face-to-face classes. Before beginning an online class session, make it a priority to have everything done before the session begins. Having meals prepared, childcare arranged and everything ready (notebooks, textbooks, pens, highlighters, etc.) can make all the difference when taking an online class.

L – Location: Have a separate area that you can call your “classroom.” To optimize your attention on the course content and drown out distractions, choose a room with low/no traffic, and lock the door if you can.

A – Attention: Focus all of your attention on the professor and what is happening in the online session. Do not try to multi-task. Turn off the television and put down the cellphone. Do not spend the class period trying to work ahead. Take notes and really listen to the lecture. Stay on topic when asking questions, and if you do not understand something, it is OK to raise your hand and ask.

N – No Negativity: Online classes are nothing to worry about! They are as engaging and interactive as a face-to-face class if they are properly prepared for. If there is a problem, reach out to your professor and let them know, they are here to help.

Incorporating these strategies when taking online courses can truly be beneficial.