Start a degree program at American Public University.
By Charissa Skinner
Graduate Advising Team Manager, APUS
Studying in a distance education setting has many benefits, such as little to no commuting costs and attending class from the comfort of your home. However, keeping your focus can be just as challenging in a virtual environment as it is in a traditional brick-and-mortar university.
Creating a Strategy for Your Online Classroom
The benefits of logging into your online classroom from home or even on the road become challenging if you don’t have a strategy for your study time. Here are some tips to keep yourself focused as an online student:
- Set aside a workspace that meets your individual needs.
- Be aware of distractions. Take time to identify what is distracting you.
- Create a study schedule that you follow each week. Set aside blocks of time for reading and assignments around your work and family obligations. Undergraduate students should set aside 8-10 hours per week for a 16-week course and 15-18 hours (including reading) for an 8-week course. Graduate students should set aside 10-15 hours per week for a 16-week course and 18-22 hours (including reading) for an 8-week course.
- Limit checking your e-mail and text messaging while studying. They will interrupt your train of thought and study momentum.
- Offer to set up a virtual study group by arranging a group phone or Skype call and be sure to schedule this time on your calendar.
- Create a system of organization.
- Keep books together on a shelf or in a backpack.
- Keep virtual folders for separate courses and don’t mix them.
- Keep due dates on a calendar.
- Take breaks. For example, work on assignments for one hour and then have a five-minute break to stretch or to drink some coffee or water.
- Set a target date for degree completion to keep yourself motivated. The university offers six conferral dates, so pick one and work with an advisor on planning your courses to meet your goal!
Studying online requires extra self-discipline. But remember that academic advisors can also be a great resource to help you succeed. You can reach out for assistance by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 877-755-2787.
About the Author
Charissa Skinner is the Graduate Advising Team Manager at American Public University System. She has a bachelor’s in English from Shepherd University, a master’s in English from the University of Virginia and a graduate certificate in academic advising from Kansas State University. She has worked for APUS for over 10 years, serving as an academic advisor, trainer and manager.