Succeeding in an Online Course

Choose the right time and place to study

If you're like many students who learn online, you probably juggle your studies with work, family, or both. In addition, there's your social life, leisure time, exercise, and possibly other things in your life. Therefore, you need to schedule in time for your studies. And since you'll be using a computer, you need to make sure that you and your computer are in the proper location for studying.

Use a calendar to schedule in study time. Include logging into the class and completing classwork online as part of your study time. Schedule your study time in one- or two-hour blocks, and try to stick to your schedule.

Of course, only you know when your concentration level is the highest, so schedule your studying during that time. If you typically fall asleep around 11 p.m., don't begin studying at 10:30.

Some other tips:

  • Schedule some of your study time prior to your instructor's online office hours. This way, if you have questions, you can get answers fairly quickly.
  • For midterms, finals, research papers, or any other big project, schedule your study time far enough in advance to avoid a big rush of work close to the due date.
  • For tasks such as those above, break the work up into manageable amounts. Study two chapters a day in the week prior to the midterm, for example, instead of all eight the night before.

Where you study can be equally important as when you study. Obviously, you'll need to pick a place that is quiet and free of distractions. If you're like many online students, that place will be at home.

  • Make sure your study environment has good lighting and ventilation. Try to reduce glare on your computer screen.
  • Have plenty of room for study materials: texts, notes, paper, pencils, dictionary, reference books, etc.
  • If you use a laptop, do not place the computer on your lap while leaning back in a reclining chair. You increase your chances of falling asleep. The same applies with reading a book. Use a chair with a supportive back, and place the laptop on a desk or table. The heat from a laptop can cause discomfort to your lap, as well.

Which of the following should you do prior to studying?