Top 10 Ways to Stay Disciplined When Studying Online
By Aimee Hosler Nov 29, 2010
Think online colleges are easier than campus-based schools? Think again. Online degree programs are certainly more flexible than traditional programs, but that means they require much more organization and self-discipline on your part. These top 10 ways to stay disciplined while studying online provides you with excellent tips for keeping your nose in your books (and off that TV screen).
1. Recalibrate Your Expectations
It's a common misconception that online degree programs are easier than campus-based classes. The truth is online programs require a great deal of self discipline. Knowing that from day one can make it easier to create a study plan that will work.
2. Make School a Priority. Period.
Don't put school aside to catch the big game, only to feel too exhausted to tackle your studies later. Education is an important investment in your future--one that takes precedence over most other things.
3. Create a Work Schedule (and Stick to It)
Online colleges let you study whenever you want, but you should still plan study time each day or week and honor that commitment just as if you were attending a traditional classroom. Even if your scheduled study time is at 2 am in your kitchen, make sure to be there.
4. Ditch the Cell Phone
You wouldn't keep your cell phone on in class and risk disrupting the discussion, so why would you keep it on during your study time at home? Turn it off, along with the TV, mp3 player, game system… you get the idea.
5. Create a Comfortable, Functional Work Space
Sure, you could write that paper on your couch with Top Chef reruns playing in the background, but you're more likely to lose focus. Creating a clean, functional workspace specifically for studying helps you shut out potential distractions and focus on what's important--your education.
6. Set Ground Rules at Home
Do your loved ones assume that if you're home, you're available? It's a common problem. Tell your friends and family that while you enjoy spending time with them, you also need to dedicate time to your studies.
7. Don't Over-Extend Yourself
Just because you can take a full class load on top of your full-time job doesn't mean you should, especially if you're sacrificing your sanity or other commitments. Spare yourself needless stress and stick to a manageable schedule.
8. Stay Organized
Don't remember when your paper is due? Can't find that syllabus your professor sent? All students need to keep organized to succeed in their studies, including those attending online colleges.
9. Set Your Own Parental Controls
Do you have a tendency to browse other files or sites when you know you should be studying? Consider creating another user account on your computer that can only access files relevant to your studies. You can also set up parental controls in your Web browser to ensure you keep on your studies (and away from your fantasy football stats).
10. Keep Your Eye on the Prize
College can be intense; it's easy to become overwhelmed. When all else fails, remind yourself that this too shall pass, and that when it does, you'll probably have a more promising career to show for your efforts.