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How to Make Online Learning Work for You

This year has brought its share of challenges, and college students have certainly endured their portion. Many students may find themselves encountering online classes for the first time, which come with their own unique set of benefits and disadvantages.

Thankfully, online courses have been around for some time, and many former students have shared their tips for remote learning success. We’ve compiled some of the best insights for navigating online schooling, so you can also stay the course, mastering this latest quest with ease.

1. Be disciplined.
The number one tip online students everywhere agree on—if you’re going to succeed, you must exercise discipline. Online schooling requires a large dose of personal conviction, and the will power to work through any challenges in your way. No one else is in the room with you to make you do the heavy lifting. You must tap into that well of drive and determination that made you register for classes to begin with—and keep pushing yourself until your reach your goal.

2. Keep your end game in sight.
Powering through a study slump is so much easier if you know the reason for your work. Never forget what brought you to this place in your life, and what your ultimate destination is. If you are feeling overwhelmed or discouraged, tapping into that vision you have of the career you’re working for, the skills you need, and the freedom it will provide you and your family, can give you the will to keep pushing forward. Take the time to regularly visualize your desired future, and remind yourself that your current circumstances are leading you to the achievement of that vision. Then keep working!

3. Stay on task.
The internet is certainly a double-edged sword. You have a wealth of valuable information at your fingertips … along with a mountain of useless distractions that can keep you from your work. Stay focused! Create a workspace free of noise, clutter, people, technologies or activities that will distract you from the work at hand. Mute your phone, log out of social media, turn off the TV and commit to focus for the appointed time. There is time enough to do those other things—after you’ve attended your lectures and completed your goals for the day.

4. Create a routine, and stick to it.
The easiest way to stay on task is to craft a routine specific to you. Take into account your other courses, household duties, work responsibilities, and personal needs. Then outline a daily routine that allocates the time needed to attend each online class, complete necessary assignments, and accomplish your other responsibilities. If you have large assignments, break them up into smaller milestones that can be spread over the days or weeks leading up to the deadline. Then, do your best to stick to your schedule! Unexpected things will come up, and schedules can be adjusted accordingly, but the habit of adhering to a schedule will be invaluable when crunch time arrives.

5. Eschew procrastination.
Time management is one soft skill that EVERY employer seeks in an employee. What better time to start than while managing your online coursework? Procrastinating your studies or assignments causes so much undue stress and worry. Make a goal to complete your tasks ahead of each deadline, or as soon as possible. Not only does this head off much unnecessary suffering, but it gives you a valuable buffer if a real emergency surfaces. And, you’ll be honing a skill that will benefit you throughout your life.

6. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Taking courses online doesn’t mean you are on your own. There are so many online resources that can help you along the way. Most colleges offer a plethora of resources for their students, including online access to the writing center, tutors, counseling, software programs, online forums and more. Don’t be afraid to reach out if you are struggling or need advice. Your school’s website is the best place to start, or you can contact the student center or a professor to find out what tools will best benefit you.

7. Engage and connect.
While there are a few key differences between online and in-person courses, the intended outcome is still the same. Likewise, your approach to your classes should be the same, no matter the medium. Take notes as you listen to online lectures or view assigned videos. Ask as many questions as you need to understand the material. Engage early and often with your classmates and teachers to build relationships and confidence in the subject. Participate in online discussions and do the outside research to actually learn—not just pass the class. The more you make connections and hold yourself accountable, the more fulfilling and useful online learning will be.

8. Take care of yourself.
It may be last on the list, but it is certainly not any less important than the first. Self-care is critical to success in anything… including college. You can’t perform at your peak if your physical or emotional tanks are running on empty. Make sure you’re taking the time to eat healthy foods, get plenty of rest, and spend time with your family and friends. Remote learning can be isolating at times, so it’s more essential than ever that you make socializing, whether in-person or by video call, a priority. Factor self-care into your weekly schedule. A balanced approach is the best way to succeed at anything, and college is no exception.