What I’ve Learned from Taking Online Classes

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It has now been a month since I began taking online classes full time through UMass Lowell. It has definitely been a unique experience and so far I have gained a lot through this experience even more so than what I have learned in class.

1. Time Management

Having good time management skills is one of the most common requirements you will see on a job description or class syllabus, and for good reason. It is so important. I will be the first to admit that it can be challenging, but it is a crucial skill to master. I am currently taking five online classes and it is so easy to push assignments off until the last minute. But when I have a paper, a couple discussions boards to post to, and a graded assignment due all on Sunday night at 11:59 pm, that last minute procrastination stress is not something I want to deal with. Take the time to plan out your work and do it well before the deadline and you will be thanking yourself later.

2. Communicate with Professors

This is a good rule of thumb for both college, online and on campus, and at a job. I found this to be especially challenging in the online atmosphere because of the lack of in person interaction. Yet, communication is a huge key to success. One of the first assignments I did online was a 20 question timed quiz and when I went to submit it, I had been kicked off Blackboard. When I went back on, all of my answers had been whipped out. And I had three minutes left on the quiz. I panicked and spent the next few minutes thinking I was going to fail the class. Once I took a deep breath, I emailed my professor and explained the situation. He was more than happy to fix it and let me retake the quiz with the full time allotted. Crisis averted. But whether it be with a job or in school, always take the time to communicate with your boss or professor.

3. Use your Agenda

I cannot tell you how many times my agenda has saved me, especially with online classes because there are no regular reminders about a lot of assignments. At the beginning of the semester I wrote down all of my assignments and exams for the next few months and it has paid off so well. There have been a couple times where I check my calendar and realize I have something small due later that night. It’s good practice to write down what needs to be done and it will definitely pay off.


Despite that I have only been taking online classes for a month, I would recommend them to anyone getting a degree. My professors have made it an enjoyable experience while still being very educational.


This post reflects the ideas of the author and she alone.

The Correct Way to Use RateMyProfessors.com

Disclaimer: Anything written in this blog represents the opinions of the author, and no one else. Each blog is written lightly, and is not intended to offend any of the mentioned businesses, locations, students, or staff.

Rate My Professor
is a college student’s guide to making his/her course schedule. Everyone races for the professors rated an “A” (meaning they are a great professor) or a chili pepper (meaning the teacher is “hot”). As useful as the site can be, there are several tricks to making it more reliable, as listed below.

  1. Give helpful advice. Don’t just say what you like or don’t like about a professor. Instead, say something helpful to future students. For example, instead of writing: “This professor gives too many quizzes. She sucks!” consider writing: “This professor always quizzes on the reading, but if you read the assigned chapters, you’ll do well.”
  2. Pay attention to spelling and grammar. I recognize that this sounds silly, but consider this for a minute: If a student doesn’t care enough to at least try to write properly when reviewing a professor, is their review really reliable? You don’t know this person, so far all you know, they wrote just as improperly in the course that they are reviewing. This may have earned them a poor grade, resulting in their negative post on the site.
  3. Take what you read with a grain of salt. It is important to pay close attention to the number of students who have reviewed a professor. If the instructor only has a few reviews, you can’t always count on them. Alternatively, if there are many reviews, you can usually trust the grade that the teacher has received. Additionally, the majority of students that write reviews are ones who either loved or hated the instructor. Make sure to consider that the students who are in the middle ground aren’t often accounted for on the site.

Students and professors alike don’t doubt that Rate My Professor is a useful tool. It is a resource for students to learn about their peers’ views on professors they haven’t had yet, and it is a way for professors to learn about what students like and dislike about their course. By following the previous three tips, you may be more satisfied with the information collected by Rate My Professor.

Sick of Hearing About DifferenceMaker?

Well, too bad! Read below to learn what’s really going on at DifferenceMaker Central!

What is the DifferenceMaker Program?

DifferenceMaker is an entrepreneurial program on campus. Its main office, DifferenceMaker Central, is located in Suite 012 in Lydon Library on North Campus. This space is available for UMass Lowell students and recent alumni to use to brainstorm and develop their entrepreneurial ventures.


The DifferenceMaker program sponsors specific programs and activities that support students in solving big problems through innovative and entrepreneurial action. Whether or not students enter DifferenceMaker competitions, they are encouraged to get involved with the program to develop their innovative thought processes. Undergraduate students, graduate students, and recent UMass Lowell alumni of all disciplines are invited to participate in the program’s events and competitions.


Why am I telling you this?

In September, I began working as a co-op employee for the program. Before working for the program, I was a little suspicious about what all the hype was about. I had seen all of their posters around campus and had heard about their events, but I still didn’t really understand what the program was or why it was promoted all over campus.

My suspicion has since been put to rest. DifferenceMaker is more than just a couple of competitions for engineering students to win money to pursue their entrepreneurial ideas. It is an all-inclusive program on campus that promotes UMass Lowell students to be DifferenceMakers in their every day life. It encourages all students to be innovative in their chosen field and gives them the tools to pursue their ideas.

What’s happening this semester?

On April 15, 2015The UMass Lowell Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship will host the Third Annual DifferenceMaker Idea Challenge. The goal of the Idea Challenge is to engage students in creative and innovative problem solving around major issues that affect our region and our future.

Student teams are asked to develop real solutions to real problems. They are then coached and guided to present a concept proposal for a needed service, product or business that addresses a real world challenge such as climate change, access to health care, support for the arts, cyber security, hunger, regional unemployment, etc.

$35K-50K in prizes will be awarded to 10 UMass Lowell student teams that present the best ideas and strategies for addressing these timely social and business challenges.


Learn More & Connect with DifferenceMaker

To learn more about the program, you can Like them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter, or Instagram. Additionally, you can attend any of their spring workshops (for free!) and/or apply to their Spring $35K Idea Challenge.