Difficult circumstances necessitate adaptation, and studying during a worldwide crisis, such as the one we’re experiencing, is no different. But it’s important to remember that, while it may be uncomfortable to adapt to new environments, and while those conditions may not be ideal or the most conducive to your preferred learning style, it’s that kind of adaptation that ultimately catalyzes your personal growth and evolution!
In the modern world, studying online has been an option for years, though it sometimes isn’t regarded with the same esteem as studying in classrooms. To complicate matters even more, during times of such uncertainty and turmoil, the concentration may feel like a depleted resource.
Many people may even avoid studying online altogether because they’re unsure how to focus on studying at home. But don’t worry—we’ve got you covered with studying tips to stay focused so your goals won’t be derailed by these unforeseen and seemingly insurmountable circumstances!
Is studying online worth it?
Of course! Studying online can be a great way for those who have to work full-time to still get the education they want and need to be competitive in the workforce. While there are aspects of an online study that aren’t ideal (such as difficulty focusing, networking, difficulty getting immediate responses to your questions, and lack of connectivity to peers), it’s important to remember that you can get the same education, often for reduced costs, and you can tailor your schedule to accommodate your demands at work. It can also be a great way to acquire an international education from the comfort of your home!
Here’s how to stay focused on online classes.
7 tips on staying focused at home
1. Maintain a consistent schedule.
One of the biggest benefits of studying online can transmute into one of your biggest detriments—it’s easy to feel liberated by not having to attend classes every day or even ever truly meet your professor. However, don’t let this newfound freedom put you out to pasture!
This is easier than it may seem: simply set aside time every morning, afternoon, or evening (or every other day depending on your course load) to work on your assignments. Consistency is easily the most important and under-appreciated aspect of successful studying when considering how to stay focused on online classes.
2. Make a daily checklist.
Being gifted complete autonomy and self-determination can be daunting, especially when considering all the added work that it entails. One thing that never hurts is making a daily checklist so you don’t forget to complete anything!
This will go a long way, especially when approaching finals, which will probably entail writing assignments, completing quizzes, participating in discussion activities, and more (all of which will usually have their own independent due dates and times).
Making a daily checklist (each morning would be best) is a great way to remind yourself of what’s due and to determine when you will really have time to complete projects and assignments that you need to complete.
You don’t want to be pulled out of sleep in a panic because you forgot to post a discussion or complete a quiz—the devil’s in the details, after all. This will also help you allocate your energy so that you’re spry and chipper when undertaking the more arduous tasks you’ll have to finish!
3. Set up a comfortable workspace.
Comfort is key to successful studying! if you aren’t comfortable in your study area, you probably won’t get a whole lot done. This might mean adding a lamp so that the lighting isn’t too strenuous on your eyes and ensuring you have a desk or table with a chair that you’ll be comfortable sitting in for potentially hours at a time.
Find out what you need to make your environment the most conducive to concentration. Does this mean candles or incense? Does this mean jazz music humming softly in the background? Does this mean having snacks and drinks nearby? This is important to determine for yourself to set yourself up for success!
4. Minimize distractions.
This is essential to success, especially in the era of unending distractions! With phones and computers and apps and social media and YouTube videos (not to sound curmudgeonly or anything), it’s easy to get distracted. And, while it’s impossible to completely extirpate distractions from your life, it’s important to mitigate them as much as possible.
Set your phone on Do Not Disturb mode and avoid the limitless black hole that is YouTube as often as possible. These distractions pile on, and before you know it, you could have spent an hour (or four) of valuable time participating in them. Don’t be a passive participant in your own failure, be an active architect of your own success! Attenuate what distractions you’re able to so that you can pay full attention to the tasks at hand.
5. Remember to take breaks.
When you’re studying online, you won’t have a professor or instructor releasing you to take a 15-minute break, and you may not have a 10 or 15-minute period in between courses to unwind during. Don’t work yourself too hard!
Make sure that you don’t exceed a few hours of uninterrupted work at a time. That’s not just a recommendation to benefit your own well-being; it will help you relax and return with renewed energy and sometimes a completely new (and totally addictive) perspective on your assignment. Don’t just take a break for yourself—take a break for your work and its quality.
6. Find online tutors and assistance.
If you are truly struggling in a subject and the concepts feel untenable, then it’s probably time to look for outside help. Don’t perceive this as a demarcation of your own worth or intellect—everyone has subjects they struggle in. Even the most genius mathematics students might need help in writing and vice versa.
This is important to realize because too often people eschew getting the help they need on account of their own pride, and to the detriment of their overall grade in the class. Usually, online programs will have some kind of tutoring service available, but if they don’t, there are plenty of resources for you to draw on, such as class gap or tutor.com.
They are often flexible and readily available, and while it may be a bit of an initial investment, your return will pay dividends. Don’t wait until it’s too late to ask for the help you need.
7. Communicate with your professor (and also your peers).
This is a vital component to success when studying online, and it’s often overlooked by students. Maybe it’s because you aren’t really well-acquainted with them (professors sometimes feel more like Big Brother in online courses than a tangible person) or because you have so much independence that it feels like some kind of transgression.
But reach out to your professors. Establish a rapport. Ask questions. Email excerpts of drafts. Maintaining a relationship (even if it’s a tentative, online relationship) with your professor may ultimately provide you allowances down the road and it will improve your work. And who knows? Maybe it’ll be a great way to network (which is still something to pursue, and these opportunities aren’t exactly abundant when studying online).
The same goes for your peers—you’re all in the same boat, and most of them would probably appreciate having someone to collaborate with.
And this is critical for prospective online students: if something exigent happens in your life that requires immediate and exhaustive attention, let your professors know. Explain what’s happening, because more often than not, they’ll be understanding. They want you to succeed, after all, because your success is their success.
So don’t be a stranger to your professors or peers! Too often, students in online courses don’t communicate adequately with their teachers and compromise themselves and their grades when they could have simply had a dialogue with their professor.
These studying tips to stay focused are gonna come in handy!
Now that we’ve given you all the tips on staying focused at home, we’re confident that you can take on any course load a professor or instructor might unload onto you. Don’t look at this as an emergency education plan—look at this as an alternative that will be around (and constantly improving) for as long as there’s education to be had. It could even be a viable option for you while you travel the world to ensure you re-enter our atmosphere with the qualifications and education you need to succeed!