7 time management tips for online students

With the flexibility of online degree programs, learning can be done from almost anywhere – at home, on the road, or…

With the flexibility of online degree programs, learning can be done from almost anywhere – at home, on the road or even on a plane. Students have the opportunity to attend University while juggling other life commitments, like being a parent or working full time.

“Reflecting on the past three years, the one thing the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us is that ‘life happens’, and in education it is essential to meet learners where they are”, Makana Craig, director of Chaminade Online at Chaminade University of Honolulu, wrote in an email. “It means recognizing that students have other priorities in life and giving them the flexibility and autonomy to complete their courses when they have the time and space (mental, physical, emotional) to do so. ”

But taking online courses, which are mostly self-paced, requires motivation and discipline. Here are seven time management tips to consider.

[Read: How Do Online Classes Work?: 10 Frequently Asked Questions.]

1. Set short and long term goals

The reasons for attending or re-enrolling in college are different for each student. But creating both short-term and long-term goals, like graduating before your child goes to college, can act as an incentive for graduation.

“Setting those goals and then working to achieve them is really motivating,” says Jamie Guigar Storey, director of counseling and student services at the College of Education and Human Services at Central Michigan University.

2. Organize early

Before each semester, review the course syllabus and break down each unit on a personal basis. calendar to track all assignments. Taking the time to get organized early reduces the risk of missing deadlines later.

“Those 40 minutes of work will pay off much later,” says Luyen Chou, director of learning at 2U, an online higher education company. “When you’re in the middle and there’s a lot going on, not having to worry about whether or not you’re on the beat just relieves your mind of tremendous stress.”

3. Dedicate chunks of study time

With familyhome or work responsibilities, it can be difficult to find the time to watch a class or do an assignment for school.

Students can spend at least a few hours a week on lectures, videos and other course materials, excluding reading or studying, so it’s important to make time for that, Storey says. But it can be difficult when you have competing responsibilities, like having to pick up the kids from school.

She suggests finding a time period when you can be free from distractions — after your child has gone to bed, for example — and making that your dedicated study window.

“It’s different for everyone; for some people, Saturday mornings” work best for homework, Storey says. “But be sure to go through your entire schedule before class starts and figure out where there are time slots that you can cut out, like watching TV, to save time for your classes. ”

[Read: 4 Reasons Online Learning Works Well for Working Adults.]

4. Designate a study space

Finding a designated study area can be a challenge for online learners, especially those who share space with family members or roommates. But in addition to setting aside time for learning, if possible, find a place inside or outside the house where you can concentrate.

“Really try to commit to creating a time and place for your online learning,” Chou says. “Having these rituals and routines strengthens your ability to approach learning in a meaningful way.”

5. Make learning social

Online learning comes in a variety of formats, including live lectures, class discussions, and individual assignments.

In an asynchronous model that relies primarily on chat rooms, email, or texting for communication, it can be easy to feel lonely or isolated. Experts suggest looking at the social aspect of learning, such as creating a study group with peers or schedule office hours with an instructor.

“Even if you don’t need it academically, research shows that feeling connected with other learners and with instructors is associated with good learner outcomes,” says Chou.

Students can also find a responsible partner, such as an online classmate, who can help you stay on top of homework.

Meetings together “can be as short and sweet as a weekly email outlining your goals for the week,” Craig wrote. “Or, it can be a scheduled hour where the student meets with their accountability partner(s) on Zoom and spends an hour working on their respective assignments. Think of it like the digital study session at the library.

[Explore ways to build a campus network as an online student.]

6. Reinforce learning outside working hours

Integrate lesson topics into daily conversations with family, friends or close colleagues. Not only does this reinforce learned concepts, but it can also help students identify areas of confusion.

“The more you engage with (the material) in different contexts, the more it’s going to solidify in your own mind,” Storey says. “Having conversations outside is really helpful.”

7. Speak up when you need help

Especially in an asynchronous learning environment, an instructor may not be aware that a student is struggling or falling behind in class. Don’t be afraid to speak up, experts say.

But if a student doesn’t feel comfortable contacting their instructor or academic advisor, many online degree programs also offer Resources for academic support, such as tutoring or a writing lab.

Are you looking for an online program? Get our full rankings of the best online education programs.

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