Distance learning appeals to many students because it offers the flexibility to work on class assignments and study material on their own hours. Yet, with those perks come new challenges. Because you won't have a structured schedule or a class in which to ask your professor and classmates questions, you'll need strong time management skills to keep track of your studying and meet your deadlines.
Distance learners have to carve out a space for studying and completing classwork. Classroom students have the luxury of an in-person meeting where questions are answered and exercises are completed, but distance learners have to make time for exercises, assignments and review and have to contact the instructor with questions and concerns. This study space should not double as an eating space, sleeping space or recreational space because you'll be tempted to do those things rather than study. A private room where you can separate yourself from the rest of your home is ideal, but a corner designated for studying, writing, reading and completing assignments can work.
Distance learners have to establish active routines without the influence of others. This means a consistent workout schedule, regular sleep habits and light nutritious meals. Distance learning often means working from home in solitude, which can also mean rolling right out of bed to complete your work in your pajamas, unstructured eating and a lack of motivation to head to the gym after "class" is over. It's crucial to make it a priority to get out of the house, stay fit and turn off the computer for a while.
Keep a Calendar
A distance learner uses online portals to keep track of assignments, due dates and materials. Unlike regular college students, you won't have a professor reminding you that a paper is due next week or offering time after class for questions. A large paper calender on your desk will allow you to stay apprised of your deadlines and test dates. It can be tempting, while working on your own, to save assignments for the last minute; keeping a schedule encourages you to work on assignments over time and avoid losing sleep or stressing out over a paper that's due or an exam you know about well in advance.
Treat Studying Like a Job
It can be tempting to calculate only the amount of time you have to spend actually clocking into your online class portal or working on assignments and leave out the hours it will take to study and learn the material. Avoid filling your schedule with other activities because of the freedom and flexibility of online classes. This can overload you and cause you to fall behind. Treat it like a job and decide to dedicate eight hours per day or whatever is necessary to your studies. Don't use those eight hours for anything else. That way, you won't run the risk of overextending yourself and receiving poor grades.
Know Your Rhythm
Since distance learners don't have to abide by a schedule the college sets, you can log on and learn at those times of day that are most productive for you. So, listening to your mind and body and understanding your rhythms will help you optimize your studying. Some study better in the early morning hours while others focus more efficiently in the evening after dinner. You must listen to your body and understand what works for you. No professor will stand over your shoulder to encourage you to work on drafting or editing in class, so you'll have to self-motivate and get the work done independently.
- Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images