Most colleges are now offering online courses, ranging from a single elective course to a full online degree program. There are thousands of degree programs that you can finish without ever visiting a college campus. For many, one of the challenges of finishing an online course or degree program is the studying. Without physically being in a class with fellow students, professors and even study assistants, some students struggle with studying at home. Luckily with a little discipline, studying at home for online courses can be just as effective as studying with peers in a campus classroom. All you need to do is follow these seven simple study methods to ace your online courses without ever having to step foot in a classroom.These methods have been tested for over a decade since the introduction of online classes, and they work for students in any degree program.Read ahead to learn how to study online courses.
1. Sharpen Your Time Management Skills
Since there’s no classroom bell, many students struggle with time management when completing online courses. This can be overcome with a little practice. You need to get in the habit of planning your time wisely, and using your time the way you plan. The best way to get started is to copy the class syllabus during the first week of class. Determine how much time each assignment will need, and plot each assignment in a planner or calendar. Course administrators generally expect you to finish two or three assignments per week, so if you can dedicate 20 hours each week to school, schedule yourself at least 5 hours for each assignment. This will probably include about half of your allotted school time for studying, and the other half for working on due assignments. Use reminder alarms in your phone so you don’t get behind. Don’t forget that part of time management includes taking breaks when needed. Breaks allow you to rest and avoid getting overwhelmed by the content. Take a 15 minute break for every hour of study time.
2. Know Your Own Learning Style
One of the best study methods is studying in the way that comes naturally to you. You can achieve this by learning your own particular learning style. Some people learn better by hearing, while others must see the study content. If you’re an audio based learner, listen to the recordings of your teacher’s lectures while driving or laying in bed at night, instead of watching TV. If you’re a visual learner, dedicate time to looking over the content; it will definitely help to bring your laptop or tablet for use while waiting in doctor’s offices and other down times.
3. Make Flash Cards
One time-tested, highly effective study method is to make use of flash cards. To make a set of flash cards, simply gather all of the information you’ll need to memorize for your online course, and get a pack of index cards. Write all of the data in question format with the corresponding answer of the back of each card. You can have someone else quiz you, which is great way to put the pressure on yourself to memorize each fact, but flash cards are also great for those without study partners. There are even websites available that will help you make digital flash cards so you can just flip through them on your laptop or smart phone. You can also print these cards for times when using electronics isn’t optimal.
4. Customize Your Study Methods for Specialty Courses
The best way to study for core-content courses for special degree programs is to customize your learning environment. For example, those who study real estate online should spend a lot of time soaking in information from professional real estate websites. Set your desktop background to include a list of real estate terms and definitions. Join real estate forums and Facebook groups so that you are immersed in the world of real estate. By creating this environment, you will be able to pick up little facts along the way that really make it easier come test time. This is one of the best study methods to actually give context to the facts you learn through your online course.
5. Take Advantage of Distance Learning
Being in an online program, one way to get the most out of your study time is to utilize the advantages of distance learning compared to face-to-face learning. There are several advantages built into these programs, such as the time you won’t have to spend getting ready and driving to class. This is more time you can use to study, compared to traditional students. Distance learning is also cheaper for many students, since they don’t have to pay for dorms, travel fees like gas, backpacks, parking fees, and more. Saving on these fees will help you to need less hours at work, which is even more time you can dedicate strictly to your school. Another one of the advantages of distance learning compared to face-to-face learning is you can turn your assignments in at any time of the day. If you’re a night-owl this will help you be able to work at your own pace, on your preferred schedule, which is great way to improve efficiency, especially for those who don’t function well during normal, morning classroom hours. All of this extra study time can help you overcome some of the quality issues in distance learning, such as less time with your professor and less communication with peers.
6. Join an Online Study Group
The best way to study is sometimes with others; for this reason, you should find an online study group to join. It helps if the students in this group are in the same or similar course as you, but it isn’t necessary. Some of these groups can be found on social media sites, and your college may offer some. as well. There are general websites for online study groups, too. Many of these websites are free and offer chat through either group messaging, private chat or even video chat. You can test your knowledge by quizzing each other, or just post updates to keep yourself accountable. Some of the online study groups have check-in functions that allow users to just simply post that they have studied, which is a great method for keeping yourself and your peers on track.
7. Get Highly Organized
One highly effective study method involves organizing your study materials in order of priority. Put each class or topic in a color-coded folder and sort the folders by due date of your next assignment. Pull from the top of the stack to study the content. Staying efficient like this will allow you to always focus on the material that’s most important, so that you don’t fall behind. This next-in-line method will also help keep the content fresh and varied to keep you from getting bored of any particular subject.
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Author: Delan Cooper
is part of a team at NREL who provides real estate online courses. He works with many real estate business owner to upskill their current license to further their employment prospects.