Online Study Survival

It's study time! WOOT! And for many non-school-aged peeps, this isn't something we do lightly. Weighing up our finances, families, work and personal commitments can be a huge navigation, and then there are course outlines, occupation pathways, and the promises to ourselves we want to keep.

So now that your there, what next? Many online students find motivation, information, and procrastination an ever present cycle of ups and downs, which can lead to a plethora of emotions and states of mind which can add to the challenges of feeling on your own in it all.

So let’s get stuck into some healthy and practical tips to help you maintain a steady pace and feel in charge of your journey.

Download your material

If your course is online, chances are you can download your course material in the form of PDFs. Sometimes course material is delivered in tiny little chunks, which can be great for learning, but horrid for revision. Ever get that feeling you can’t find anything when you try to go back? By downloading your course material and joining PDFs in a folder by subject , module, or however else you think might be helpful, you can easily bookmark, search, and therefore find info real quick. Many PDF readers can combine PDF files, but you might have to pay for this feature. Look online and see which reader best fits you, your device, and your editing needs.

How do you learn?

If you’re like me, I learn really well if I hear something out loud. I also tend to retain a lot of information using visuals like diagrams when it comes to memorising concepts. And while I’m also pretty good with study through reading, these traits makes me essentially an auditory visual learner first and foremost. A PDF reader is brilliant for me, as it reads the document out loud, and I usually pick up different things than when I read text (which I usually do first). This takes revision to new heights, as I invariably learn the material at a deeper level of understanding.

Diagrams and pictograms are ways I not only learn, but I also use them to teach, so when I can’t find a free diagram online, I usually make my own. Pictures are great because I can stick them up on a wall, and recall them by memory when I need to.

When you’re stuck

Online communities can be a helpful place to go when you’re feeling bewildered and overwhelmed, or just can find the information you need. Tread carefully though, because asking for answers is a big no-no and could get you both into trouble, but that doesn’t mean not asking for help. Use your common sense by asking questions that aren’t asking directly for the answer, but are more like asking directions to a town. Most online study communities are happy to act as signposts, and help guide you on which direction to head towards to find what you’re looking for.

Also, your course provider should have a support number or email you can use to get help. Your online assessors might be able to help you if it’s course related, and don’t ever think that a question is silly to ask. Your question is just as important as someone else’s.

When Motivation eludes you

Motivation tends to be one of the biggest challenges to the online learner, as you’re pretty much on your own. Finding a study buddy can help, especially when some tasks might involve using another person. Online groups can help too, but don’t just sit back and wait for someone to kick-start your enthusiasm. Sometimes we can motivate ourselves by helping motivate others. Helping other people can rub off on ourselves, and we might just take our own advice and be able to get back on track.

Performance anxiety

Almost all of us experience some kind of nervousness when we have to prove ourselves, and tests, exams, and assignments can really get us worked up. Everyone is different in this area, and there’s certainly no single-cure option. But here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • It’s normal to feel performance anxiety for most people
  • You can get help if it all becomes too much
  • Using anxiety diffusion techniques can be really helpful (you can find heaps online for free)
  • Developing an Exam plan can be really helpful

Exam Plans

An exam plan is something best created when you DON”T have exams, and when you can think clearly. It’s basically a plan that you can refer to if exam times feel overwhelming or just a bit befuddled. Exam plans can include things such as:

  • Al daily or weekly study routine, including scheduled breaks and brain re-sets
  • An go-to person or people you can contact if you need emotional support
  • A physical plan to meet you physical needs, such as exercise and meal-plans
  • A debrief outline which may include writing a journal or speaking to a friend to express your internal stuff
  •  A list of things you can do that you know make your head feel better, such as yoga, going for walks, reading a non-study book, going out with friends (Having healthy downtime is so important)
  • Asking for support at the beginning of the study period (such as asking not to be disturbed for a given time period or taking up someone’s offer to make you soup)

When Space is Critical

If your only study place is full of unhelpful distractions, noise, or other things that might bother you, here’s a few ideas from some other students I know.

  • Take a drive and park and study somewhere beautiful in your car
  • Volunteer to house-sit
  • Take you books to the park
  • Ask your local coffee shop when their quietest time of the day is
  • Libraries and museums have quieter times too
  • Temporarily move in with a quite friend in their quiet house during exam study times

And the final study tip is Google.

Feeling confused by your study material? Find a TED talk on the subject. Having to watch a long boring video on a topic? Watch it, and then see if you can find a short overview video that cuts to the chase. Need help with your feelings? Ask google to find you info to help get you through.

Last but not least, remember one crucial thing. As much as you feel it, you are actually not alone. There are thousands of people studying courses like yours at any given moment, and just like you they experience similar feelings and frustrations. You are only really one click away from finding support.

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