If you were ever waiting for a sign to try online or distance learning, the coronavirus pandemic must have been a massive lightbulb for you hey! With schools and universities closed for safety and protection the world over, online is the only option there is. It has always been the better study route anyway for several reasons:
- You can enroll in a course any time of the year
- The fees are much cheaper, and you get to pay in monthly installments
- You have no travel costs, no extra rental fees and bills for accommodation,
- No need to find daycare for your kids earlier than anticipated or hiring expensive caregivers
- You can still be a part of all functions and family gatherings without lectures falling on the same day as the event; you make up your study time-table
- You can work at your own pace without the pressure of term deadlines
- You have instant access to subject tutors online, no fighting for one tutor’s attention with 40 plus other students in a classroom environment
- You can even travel and still be able to access your lectures and study notes from wherever you are, so long you can access to WiFi or the internet.
We could go on, but you get the picture.
The greatest huddle you would have to face and overcome is self-discipline. Because every decision regarding your studies is up to you, it’s easy to slacken. Discipline is a skill; it is training yourself to behave in a certain way. It’s much like being on a Keto diet, and you determine to buy the fresh produce for your menu from the Aldi weekly ad preview. You aim for the sales from a reliable grocer where you are guaranteed quality and freshness, you commit to the healthy recipes, and in the end, you come out lean and healthier. In the same manner, consider your career needs, choose a reliable University with known credentials and accreditation, stick to a study routine, and you’ll have your qualification in no time!
It may sound arduous, so we have come up with pointers to help you along your journey. Here are eight guidelines to developing a discipline for your online studies:
1. Set up a suitable study space
Be as practical as possible when you set up your learning environment. A place that is quiet and free from disturbances is most appropriate. Set up a desk and a chair with only your laptop and necessary textbooks for reference. Avoid using your bed because your mind associates the bed with sleep – you will hardly get much done in bed. A good workspace will also allow your mind to get accustomed to the routine, so you will settle down quickly as the days go by, and studying will become easier.
2. Draw up a study schedule
Like a class timetable, a study schedule will help you sit down and work at designated times. This will instill self-control and allow you to have a routine. The more you adhere to the schedule, the easier the practice will become, and the less cumbersome the workload will be.
3. Be accountable
Having support in anything you do spurs you on and the tendency to quit is rare. Moreso, having someone you are accountable to pushes you to achieve what you set out to do. When your study schedule is ready, pass it on to a friend or your partner who will be able to check on you and make sure you are studying when you are supposed to be. If you have assignment deadlines or dates you are meant to have taken your assessments by, pass them on as well. It’s tough love, but it will serve you well in the long run.
4. Get rid of distractions
Eliminate distractions and stick to your plan daily. Go into a quiet place, turn off your cell phone if possible, or leave it in another room. If you are concerned about the temptation to check your social media because you are working online, download your worksheets and work offline, or download an ad-blocker for those sites. Make sure those around you are aware of your study times so that you can work in a peaceful environment.
5. Avoid procrastination
Because you have the liberty to choose when, where, and how to study, it may seem like you have ample time to do your studies. Whilst you are not bound by timelines like those of students going to class every day, you still do need to complete your course within a certain time frame. Avoid procrastinating your assignments. If anything, start early, do some research, work on them as you learn about the subject matter.
6. Have goals, both long term, and short term
Setting goals can be as easy as reading two chapters of a topic per day, taking a self-test every Friday, and striving to finish a module in three months. You will have a sense of direction and focus once you have all your goals down. They will also help you to keep track of your progress and keep you motivated.
7. Stay in touch with your tutors and lecturers
The most significant advantage of online technology is instant access to resources availed to you by the University. Tutors especially are approachable for the greater part of the day. Talk to them, let them assist you where you need help, and ask as many questions as you need to. If you allow them to check on your progress, it will also help you stay on course.
8. Interact with other students in your course
Some Universities offer virtual meeting rooms where students can convene and discuss their lessons. Take advantage of these meetings if they are available. Another student may ask a pertinent question that applies to how you should approach an assignment, for example.
Regularly interacting with like-minded people will push you to work hard so that you can also make contributions to the conversations. You will find yourself studying for each subsequent discussion topic so that the meetings remain relevant.
All the best exercising self-discipline, you will surely make it. Remember why you are studying in the first place, that ought to jump-start you every time you feel regressive.