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10 Tips for Successful Online Schooling

Amanda is a recent graduate from Southern New Hampshire University where she got a Bachelor's of Psychology where she took classes online.

Online schooling can be hard with all the distractions of life and the computer.

Online schooling can be hard with all the distractions of life and the computer.

1. Find a Quiet Place to Work

Finding a quiet place to work is vital for successful online schooling. A quiet place allows you to fully concentrate and comprehend what you are learning and it will likely be free of distractions. If you have children, try to work while your kids are playing or when they are taking a nap. If you can, designate your own workspace that can be fully dedicated to doing your work at. Having your own workspace where you do your school work can help your brain associate the place and the work. You may work more efficiently that way.

2. Break Work into Small Sessions

Don't try to do all of your work at once. If you break up your work into small sessions and allow yourself frequent breaks, the school work will pass quickly and your workload won't seem so overwhelming. One method that I liked to do is do one small assignment and then take a 10 or 15-minute break. If the assignment that I was working on was larger, I would work for an hour and take a break. After the break, if I was feeling a little tired of the assignment, I would move onto a different assignment. Most of the time, when I would come back to the previous assignment, I understood it better because I took some time away.

3. Use Discipline when Doing Classwork

There are many perks to online schooling. But, there are many ways that doing online schooling can be your downfall. With Netflix, Hulu, social media, and video games, there are many distractions on your computer that can cause you to quickly fall behind. That's not even covering real-life distractions. Having discipline when doing classwork is essential to being successful. Only allow yourself to check your social media during breaks. Don't multi-task and watch a movie. Of course, sometimes real-life gets in the way of classwork so have as much discipline as you can allow when you are doing classwork.

Try not to multitask when you are completing your work.

Try not to multitask when you are completing your work.

4. Have a Plan

It is important to have a plan before you start tackling your school work. If you have access to the lessons at the beginning of the semester (look in the syllabus) then it is easy to plan ahead. Break down assignments by day so that you have a small goal that is easy to obtain. Breaking down the week's assignments by day will make the whole week seem less daunting and you won't be wasting time struggling to figure out what to do next.

If it is easier, break down each step of the assignment. If you have to do a discussion post assignment (most online courses do), do the discussion post one day and the responses another day. Make sure you set your plan the way you are comfortable with.

5. If Possible, Work Ahead.

You never know what is going to happen during your schooling. It is important to work ahead if you have the chance. Sometimes, courses will open up early. Take advantage of that! If you can get an early start to your classes, it will help give you a grace period if something comes up or you'll get an early break at the end of the week.

Sometimes assignments are harder or more time consuming than you think they'll be. Allowing extra time by working ahead when you can will make allowances when that happens. That doesn't mean that you have to dedicate every free moment you have to work on your assignments but allow yourself the discipline to use extra study time to work ahead.

Keeping a planner can help you be successful in online schooling.

Keeping a planner can help you be successful in online schooling.

6. Motivate Yourself

Because online schooling is mostly independent, it is important to learn what motivates you and use it. This works alongside disciplining yourself too. If you want to watch a movie, make yourself write two pages of that essay that is looming over your head. Do you want to buy that new purse that you saw in the store? If you get straight A's the whole semester, allow yourself to get that purse.

This goes the other way too. If you set a reward for yourself and you do not meet that goal, do not allow yourself to get the item. Instead, use discipline to stay strong. This will motivate and encourage you to do better in the future.

The rewards don't have to be grand or cost money. Find something that you enjoy doing or something that truly motivates you.

Long-Term MotivationShort-Term Motivation

A new purse

A candy bar

A mini vacation

Watching an episode of a show

Going to the mall

A short break

7. Don't Be Afraid to Communicate With Your Teachers

As mentioned earlier, sometimes things come up and you might need more time to complete an assignment. Or, sometimes you'll need clarification on an assignment or some extra help. A lot of times, teachers will have "office hours" where they are available to talk via Skype or phone. Don't be afraid to use those hours to get the help you might need on an assignment.

If your teacher doesn't have office hours or you aren't comfortable seeking that time, use email to communicate with your teacher. If you need more time on an assignment, be honest with them and more than likely they will allow you the extra time.

Teachers will likely throw you a bone if they notice you are working hard and speaking up to get help when you need it.

8. Stay Organized for Success

You should treat online school just like a school that you'd go to a campus for. Take notes, create a spot for your work stuff only, and make sure that you are organized. By allowing yourself to be organized, you are more likely to succeed with your online schooling. If you have printables, it may be easier to print them out to have them in hand for your reference. Keep all your assignments and notes in one area on your computer so you don't lose them! And, get organizational tools such as post-its, highlighters, and notebooks to ensure that you get all your thoughts and important notes down.

9. Prioritize Work

Make sure to prioritize your work so that you get the important things done first. Do the work that is due the soonest first so that you can get those out of the way. If you have a big project to do, take care of the easy tasks first.

Plan out time so that you can get projects that are worth more points done before their due date so that you don't miss out on those points. If you are behind on homework, check out this article for tips on how to catch up on the shortest time possible.

Stay organized with note taking to help you be successful in your class.

Stay organized with note taking to help you be successful in your class.

10. Utilize Given Resources

Your school will likely give you resources that you can use to help with your workload. Does your school have a virtual library? A lot of resources can be found on there to use as research for projects! If your school has its own social media, use it to make friends and form study groups. Sometimes schools will even have their own tutoring signup to get help from teachers or other students! It is important to be familiar with the resources that your teacher or school gives you for your studies so that you can succeed.

Questions & Answers

Question: What do you think about taking online school (just for fun) once you've earned your degree? Is it a waste of money when you could get the same results with private research? Or is it a radical act of self-care?

Answer: I am a supporter of taking classes for fun! Yes, you're spending a lot of money on knowledge that can probably be learned through private research, but classes offer so much more than just knowledge. They offer experiences and social experiences that you wouldn't get by just searching through Google. Though it may seem like a radical act of self-care, I plan on taking more classes and encourage anyone else who wants to do the same.