How to Get the Most Out of Online Degrees and Certification Programs

While colleges and universities across the country are having to pause on-campus instruction, many students may find it challenging to learn in a new online environment. It may not seem easy at first to adjust your study habits and utilize online lectures, but here are some ways in which you can master online learning and really get the most out of working in a new environment.

Identify your learning objectives and goals

In order to help stay on track with your online course, make sure that you always keep in mind what you hope to accomplish by the end of it. The learning objectives and goals of the online course can serve as an excellent road map.

Read your course requirements, create notes that are closely related to your objectives, and make sure you review them thoroughly every time you start an assignment so that you stay focused on your goals. Also consider starting with the most difficult tasks, as this will improve both the effectiveness of your study and your performance.  

Treat an online course like an on-campus course

When it comes to online classes, you need to have the discipline to sit down and actually follow through. Though you may have flexibility as to when you can complete your work during the week, you can’t put it off indefinitely.

One of the easiest ways to ensure this is to remember that you are paying to take this online course, just as you would for a traditional, in-person class. You must “show up” if you’re going to get real value out of your class. So treat your online classes the same way you would an on-campus class—or even a job—and you’ll be off to a great start.

Establish routines

A routine is always helpful, which is why having a habit — or system to help you build positive habits — is essential for those who are new to working remotely. Your daily habits will help you add more value to your daily routine.

Determine if there is a productive habit that can save you a few minutes of time each day. Any positive habit you create or system you implement that saves time has a compounding effect on your results. Set the bar low on how much time you plan to save, but continually raise it to build momentum.

Also try getting dressed and ready one morning just like you normally would. See how much of a difference it makes with your motivation and focus. It’s tempting to wear pajamas all day since you’re not leaving the house except for emergencies, but you’ll feel much better about your life and studies when you take care of yourself.

Eliminate distractions

From Netflix to social media, you’ll be faced with many distractions that can easily derail your studies. What you want to focus on will eventually be presented with distractions. If you’re focused on the distractions, you’re going to put attention on them. Pay attention to what you want for yourself and your career. Understand that any time and energy spent on distractions is the same as time and energy spent away from your overall career and education goals.

Exactly how much of a challenge these distractions prove to be will depend on your own personality and situation. Some might find that they can easily tune out a noisy home by listening to music. Others not so much. Ultimately, you will need to find a strategy that works best for you. The best online students know how to lessen these distractions and set aside time to focus.

Get a writing partner or virtual study buddy

Many of us are relatively sociable individuals. Yet even those who are good at getting things done on their own, often do their best when they’re in some kind of collaborative environment.

Having a partner to study with can make learning easier and more fun. You will be studying the same courses and doing the same quizzes and assignments, so pooling your knowledge, resources and skills will only increase your success rate.

Collaboration also leads to better brainstorming, particularly when it comes to writing assignments. Having a partner to proofread each other’s work can greatly improve the final product, while making it more enjoyable than working alone.

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