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Studying for an Online Class

OSAU Angel

Taking online courses can be very convenient for many people. However, online learning requires time management skills, self-discipline, willpower, and strong motivation, as it may be challenging for online learners to successfully complete their e-learning courses. 

Here are key study tips for online learners, in order to help you stay focused and motivated when taking courses online.

1. Set a major goal

The most important tip for anyone attending or considering an online degree is to stay on task. It’s understandable that sometimes things happen in life that are unforeseen and pull us away from our studies. But you must keep your primary goal in mind.When you set goals that are personally important, you’re more likely to manage your time in a way to accomplish them.

For online study to be a successful experience, you need to be passionate about your chosen course of study. This passion will drive you to be disciplined and to persevere when deadlines are looming.Keep in mind why you are seeking this degree. Just having the mindset that I'm doing this for my family, or I'm doing this for a better career, or just doing it to say "hey I did it" is enough encouragement to keep your mind on your studies.

Keep the end goal in mind. Want it! Want it bad enough to obtain it through any means necessary. It's imperative to read more, listen closely, collaborate and keep in close contact with online teams, professors and peers.

That desire to attain dreams and become a student must always be with you, through every course, and for every goal you wish to accomplish. You must approach assignments with conviction, whether it be taking notes on a 2-minute educational video or doing research for a thesis.

2. Make a study plan

At the beginning of each term, take the time to plan readings and work on assignments and regularly adjust the plan if necessary to keep you on track.

Set out a clear and achievable study plan and stick to it to it 95% of the time, allowing yourself some room and respite for the unexpected.

Be organized and set a certain amount of hours per day or week into your schedule for studying. Write out a weekly schedule with dates and times. Make sure to set aside enough time to focus only on school with no distractions. That's important.

Plan ahead! When it comes to online school, you don’t have a set time to sit around and do your work. You must always plan a time specifically on your own to do your work.

Setting daily goals and making checklists can help succeed in each course and project, allowing  to prove that you can work efficiently and independently. Accomplishing small goals each day and creating a portfolio will help you motivate to keep working.

3. Manage time carefully

Success in online study boils down to one skill that can be applied to everything you do in life: Time Management.

Set a schedule and stick with it to keep you structured. People generally do better in a structured environment. So why not make it even easier for yourself? If you know what time block you devote to school, you are more apt to be consistent, avoid late assignments and put study first.

Dedicate a specific amount of time each day or each week to studying and commit to it. A lot can come up in life, and there will always be many distractions. If you are a morning person, then wake up an hour earlier and spend some time studying. If you are a night owl, then dedicate some of that Facebook and Instagram time on an evening to studying.

Set aside time for yourself and for your studies. During your dedicated study time, try to disconnect from distractions like social media, your phone, or television so that you are able to focus on what you really need to get done. And when you finish the assignments ahead of schedule like the rock star you are? Look ahead and get a jump on future work. Trust me, you’ll thank yourself later.

4. Find a quiet space and eliminate distractions

Create a space of peace . Pick a time throughout the day when either everyone is away from home, pick a corner of the house where you can relax and study.

You need to designate an area that is free of distraction. When diversions are present, it may reflect in poor quality of work; hindering your education. Discussing your "quiet zone" with your family or friends may be beneficial as well so they understand that your time is crucial to your academic success.

Turn off mobile phones and TV. Some background music can help you to relax, but it's important that it's not too loud to become a distraction. Cut off all electronics or put them on silent. 

A distraction-free environment slows your thinking down and helps you feel more at ease because you are no longer concentrating about everyone else. It overcomes the problem of not being able to concentrate when you try to study.

5. Limit social media

Sure, it's fun to get lost in the black hole of Facebook, but when it comes to getting a college degree, that blue and white "thumbs up" gets shoved to the wayside for studying!

Since the computer screen is an online student's classroom, it may be difficult to resist the temptation to see how many likes your latest post received, but by logging off and not having my social media pages up, you’re able to focus more on what you’re reading or on the assignment you’re working on.

6. Use online resources and browse intelligently

You have the entire world at your fingertips. You can research entire events from history in color, or have a renowned mathematician take your hand and work you through a problem, or a scientist explain to you how exactly your solar system works. Use your time and resources wisely.

For instance, your college has an online library which offers sources for assignments. Another resource that is sometimes available is a writing center. If you need your paper fixed or just have a question on formatting, the writing center can help.

Learn how to navigate around your classroom home tabs. This is where you will find your weekly assignments and activities. You will also find your teacher info and fellow classmates for if you have questions. Learn your school website so you know how to access your library, upcoming classes, website info, technical support, and more. Also make sure you know how to contact your school, teachers, and other people when you have a question or concern. Take time to click on each tab on the school website to see what they all do and mean before you get started.

7. Have a break and stay healthy

Our brain can only work to its fullest if our body is well. Have regular breaks that involve exercise and fresh air and eat good food! Preparing a healthy meal or going for a run is not wasting your time.

Maintain regular breaks to avoid strain (and make sure your study space is set up correctly). A quick break and walk outside can really revitalize you to continue studies. And don’t force it. Do the work when you are in the right frame of mind (online studies are more flexible so you can do this).

Decide on a task, set a timer for 25 minutes, and work! If a distraction pops into your head, write it down, but get back to the task. When the bell rings, have a small break. Go for a walk, make a cup of tea, or find a dog to cuddle.

The important thing is sleep. We as human adults need seven to eight hours of sleep to function. I understand that the need to cram all knowledge before a quiz is a well-known idea of college but studying is a key. When the brain is asleep, the mind can think clearly and go over past studying tips.

Getting rest is a must but don’t overdo it. Remember to spend time with friends and family. It is good to have some balance. It’s good for your overall happiness, sanity and for the preservation of relationships.

8. Connect with others


Online portals, discussion boards and Facebook can help to find students in the same course, maybe even in your local area. Connect with peers and team up for group assessments, stay in touch, and help each other with proofreading, tips and exchange of resources.

An important part of the online classroom is classroom participation and discussion. Posts that engage others in a back and forth repartee aid in the conceptualization of research papers and slide presentations that are assigned as homework.

People may think that online schooling is a way to avoid talking to other students. However, this is not true. In order to fully comprehend certain material, it is sometimes necessary to see another person’s point of view on the subject matter. Talking to other students by messaging or posting comments can sometimes open a student’s mind to other opinions or help them understand an assignment. Students learn from each other and cooperative learning is the same online as it is in any traditional college.

Create a team of virtual friends, 2-3, maybe more and have regular discussions. Meet up like once a fortnight to pick each other’s brains, see how far each is with the assignments, and also any challenges anyone is facing. This can be through WhatsApp or Facebook.

Communication is the number one thing that will make online learning a positive experience. Email your professor, post in the forums, text your classmates – use every communication skill you have to make sure you are getting what you need from the course. Getting to know your classmates as much as possible is a positive aspect of online learning. You never know when you will make a new friend!

Email etiquette is essential and extremely important as it is the only form of communication many online programs partake in. A simple "Good Morning", "I hope this email reaches you well", "Thank you", "Please" or "You are greatly appreciated" matters a lot. Warm gestures go a long way and I'm constantly reminded that it makes a huge difference.

9. Ask questions

It's important if you're struggling with a topic to be proactive and seek out help. Many online courses have great teachers just waiting to assist you. Failure to ask may cost you a good grade on an assignment.

Ask questions as soon as you have them. There's nothing worse than convincing yourself that you will eventually learn the subject and find out a week later that you still do not understand the topic. Generally with online classes, one week is built off the knowledge of the past week. If you do not understand week 1, you will have greater difficulty in week 2, and so on.

If you are confused about a course or have questions about an assignment, do not hesitate to ask your instructor. They are there to guide students in the learning process. They want to help students succeed.

10. Beat deadlines

Set a strict guideline on assignments.Most students find themselves putting in a lot of work on the day an assignment is due. If an assignment is due on a Monday, do not wait to do it until Sunday night. It creates unnecessary stress and anxiety.

 For bigger assignments, such as outlines and essays, it is beneficial to set a personal deadline to finish 2 days before the actual deadline. Two days is an ideal time to do extra revision and editing to any work. It allows 1 day for rest and 1 day to revisit the work with clear eyes. That one day could mean catching errors in grammar that were missed in the original revision process and making a satisfactory grade into an excellent one.

Save your work when you are finished and come back them next day and read it aloud. You will find more mistakes that way and possibly see a better way to write something. This only works if you manage your time well enough to have those extra hours later to review.

Finishing work early means you have more time to ask questions or make improvements. The flexibility of online study should allow you to review and critique your work before turning it in.

11. Reward yourself

If you get an A on a paper, treat yourself. If you get an A in the class, go big. You have to remember that you do have a life. Go out with your friends. Go to the movies with your partner. If you only do homework, you’re going to get burned out.

Reward yourself! "Look, if I can just sit down for 2 hours and kick this math in the ass, then I can take myself out for a nice greasy burger!" It always seems to be easier to motivate ourselves when we know there's something waiting for us at the finish line.