My name is Mario Pesca, and I studied a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) online, graduating in 2016. Online study can be hard, but it’s a great way to manage job and family commitments, you can learn as much as you want without having to sacrifice them. Here are my tips for getting the most out of online study.
Trial part-time study first
I have completed several courses studying online. You learn to be more prepared every time, allowing you to achieve better results. A word of advice from an experienced distance student is to try to enrol as a part time (PT) student at first. If you’re juggling family and work commitments, you can ease into the student life again, allowing you to make your way through the first couple of credits, achieving good marks, reviewing concepts from your previous education and getting used to the technicalities of being a student again. Once you manage the part-time workload without any issues, then go ahead and enrol as a full-time student.
Have a clear goal
As with every project or business objective, the most important thing to remember in my opinion, is to have a clear vision of where you want be in the future and the reason why you are studying in first place.
It is important to remember that although you have the freedom of learning on your own time and on your own schedule, university due dates are very important; you must start early on assignments and doing all the preparation required for final examinations.
Follow a routine
When I was completing my Bachelor of Engineering, I always found easier to follow a routine. I started with exercise – something that woke me up and put me in the mood of studying. I am talking about push-ups, sit-ups or something like that: the important thing was to have my heart pumping and blood delivering oxygen to my body. Just as important, I always had plenty of liquid and a cup of coffee during my study-sessions.
Use your ‘spare time’
Another useful tip is to use your smart phone as a learning aid and not just for Facebook or Instagram. Applications such as Adobe, Turbo-Scan, Slide-Share, Go-record, Numbers and others, can assist your learning. Listening to your tutorials while you are completing other tasks: while wait for the bus, while you are on a static bicycle, or while waiting for plane are some of the examples of how I used to my phone as a learning tool.
Create a study space
Avoiding distractions was not always easy. It can be hard but do your best to control what you can hear and see while studying. For me, the best strategy was to have a designated place where I could study with good lighting, a good set of headphones (noise cancelling) and some sticky notes.
Let me explain why; a designated place to study is advisable as you can control what its around you when you study (that’s why you picked it). Lighting is important as a clean and well-lit place helps your concentration and helps avoid feeling tired and sleepy while you are trying to go through your study material. Finally, use sticky notes! Using these I could write notes to remind me to research further about a difficult topic, or to write questions that I could bring up during the online tutorials.
Last but not least
My final tip is, “Use time wisely and start early”. I am talking about early in the morning and in the term. If you have an assignment due in week 4, don’t wait until week 4 to start. I normally start about three weeks prior. Similarly, getting up super early to avoid unnecessary distractions and going to bed early, enough to rest and recover is very important.
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