• Study Strategies for Distance Learning: How to Excel

    So you've decided to go back to school and you believe online courses are the best way to meet your education goals. Distance learning can be a wonderful way to earn your associates, bachelor’s or advanced degree, however it is important to realize study strategies for excelling in distance learning programs can be different from those at traditional four-year colleges.

    In order to do your best in a distance learning program it's important to know yourself. You must be a disciplined self-starter. If you find that the new Hawaii Five-O series is going to distract you from your studies, it may be best to adopt some study habits from traditional students. First, always read your syllabus and understand what assignments are due and when. Know if you have to participate in online interactive classes or if everything can be done on your own schedule. Know when assignments are due and when tests are to be administered. Once you know these things, mark them on a calendar. Backwards plan to ensure you give yourself ample time to complete assignments. If you are in a tough class, try to determine if any other students live in your area so that you may get together and study. If that is not an option, consider a tutor for extremely difficult classes.

    When you create your study schedule, think about a library environment. Try and remove any distractions such as television, radio and even telephones so you can focus solely on studying. If you are a domestic engineer, also known as a stay-at-home mom, try to set aside a time, either after your children have gone to bed or when they are not home.

    Recognize your strengths and skills. If you know that you need someone to push you to get you to do the required work, either consider a traditional school or try to solicit the assistance of a friend or family member. By sharing with them your goals and your schedule, they can help push you, ensuring you meet your goals.

    When the going gets tough, don't get going in the other direction. Meet the challenges head on. Don't forget that your instructor is there to teach you and they should be responsive to questions. When you don't understand a concept, equation or problem, ask for assistance or clarification. One of the biggest problems distance learners have is they often feel alone and they forget that their teachers are there to help ensure they understand the material.

    Another major hurdle that some distance learning students experience is underestimating the amount of time required for a class. Set realistic goals and expectations, and do not try to take too many classes simultaneously. Know your goal and constantly work toward it. Also, keep in mind your motivation. You may have decided to return to school to make more money, to have a more satisfying job or simply learn a new skill. Whatever your motivation, put it in writing wherever you study so that when the urge arises to abandon your studies for something more interesting or exciting, you will have that constant reminder looking back at you and keeping you on the path toward your goal.

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