It’s no secret that earning your degree online can be quite an undertaking and seemingly daunting task. Unlike traditional “brick and mortar” schools, you do not have set class time in which you have to sit down and listen to the instructor. While this allows for the flexibility that suits working adults and full time parents, it also means many students find it difficult to study and keep their course work on track. I personally went to a brick and mortar school for 3 years before eventually completing my Bachelor’s online. Here are a few tips for studying and completing schoolwork that I find helpful while taking online courses.
- Set aside dedicated study time EVERY DAY.
It may seem silly to set aside time every single day to work on school work. After all full-time jobs, family obligations and other miscellaneous life obligations often make adding another task everyday seemingly impossible. However, setting aside some time every day, at least one hour, will allow you to stay on top of the work that needs to be completed rather than playing catch up. People often learn more by setting aside an hour or two every day to study, write papers and conduct research than they do if they only work on school for large amounts of time once or twice a week. If school work isn’t worked on every day, there is a danger of the school work building up. This means having to take even MORE time out of what may be your only time off of work in order to catch up on work.
- Study away from distraction (as best as you can). The best way to focus on your school work is to cut out as many distractions as possible. Leaving the TV on in the background for noise may seem like a good idea, until you end up watching the TV instead of studying. Instead of a TV, try listening to classical music or other musical that will not distract you from thinking and learning.Not all distractions can be cut out though; kids will still need something, the phone will still ring and the dog will still bark even though are you studying. Try turning your phone to silent and study when children are otherwise occupied. Also, close the window to any social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest etc) as these will only create distractions.
- Figure out how you study best and stick to it. Some students study best in the evening, before bed in their dining room with no noise in the background. Some students study best first thing in the morning before work when no one else is awake. And some students study best at the local WI-FI Hotspot where distraction is minimal. However you study best, come up with a plan and stick to the plan. The more routine your study schedule is the more your family can predict when you are going to be studying and the less they will (hopefully) distract you during this time.
- Reach out for help. If you are ever feeling confused on course material, reach out for help! Posting a question in the classroom will allow you to find out if other students are having the same problems and perhaps someone will be able to help you. Your instructor can also address any concerns or confusion you may have over the material. Remember, your classmates and instructor is there to help you! Learning is a group effort!
- Balance is the key. Studying for hours on end causes fatigue and a disinterest what you are attempting to learn. Have you ever been reading a text book only to realize you have no idea what the words are saying? Compromise while studying for longer periods of time. Study for a while and then take a chance to go outside, run an errand or grab a snack if needed. This will keep your mind and body fresh and at the same time avoiding the eventual “Study Burnout” that does occur.
[related: How to Balance Your Class Schedule]
By Ann Mezera
Academic Advisor at American Public University