Study skills

As we continue to become more time poor, people are opting for online education as a way of balancing study with other commitments. The convenience of studying by distance education means you don’t have to bear the cost of relocating or commuting, and you have the ability to work full-time to support yourself while you learn.

However, studying online does require self-direction and discipline, and if you haven’t studied by this mode before it can seem daunting. But these top tips will have you studying like a pro in no time.

Manage your time

‘Time management’ is a term that gets thrown around a lot but it’s a skill that many of us just can’t seem to master. Having said that, managing your time effectively is vital to getting through your online course in one piece. Before you freak out, know that there are plenty of tools and tips to help you control the clock.

Keep on time!

  • Use a calendar that you’re comfortable with – whether it be an old school wall planner, Filofax or digital calendar like iCal.
  • Schedule your work and social commitments so you can allocate your time accordingly, and be sure to leave room for unexpected events that may arise.
  • Use your time wisely and don’t waste it staring at a computer screen if you’re not being productive. If you hit a wall, take a break or go and do something else on your ‘to do’ list, and come back to study when your brain is ready.


Keep on top of deadlines

Know your deadlines! Take the time to look ahead and map out your study timeline, and you won’t get any nasty surprises when other students start chatting on the forum about the assignment they just submitted.

Know your deadlines!

  • Write out all your deadlines and place them somewhere visible.
  • Set reminders in your phone two weeks before each assignment is due so you have plenty of time to get started.
  • Don’t get into the habit of leaving things to the last minute, racing to meet deadlines and burning yourself out – that will make it even harder to start the next task. Whatever you do, fight the urge to procrastinate.


Do your readings

It’s essential to keep up with your readings, otherwise it will be too hard to catch up at the end. It might be tempting to put them off until you’re ‘in the reading mood’, but unfortunately that mood tends to be more like ‘last minute panic’ when you’re stuck with no time and your entire reading list before a final exam.

Get reading

  • Set yourself a certain amount of pages or chapters per night so you break it up into more manageable chunks.
  • Keep at least some of your readings or textbooks with you when you’re out and about (or access them online) so you can knock over a few pages while you’re on the bus or waiting for a friend.


Use the tools

Make the most of what you’ve been given! Take some time to navigate the different online tools available to help you make it through the course.

Use all the tools at your disposal

  • Get active in the forums and get to know your digital classmates and tutors.
  • Download all the resources that are available including any podcasts, lecture notes and readings, and keep them in a file on your desktop.
  • Make sure you log in regularly to keep up-to-date with any new information that your course coordinator posts or changes in deadlines.

There are many more habits you can get into to help you navigate your way through online study. These are just a few to get you started and, who knows, you might even develop a few tricks of your own. Be sure to give yourself a break every now and then and reward yourself when you’ve done a good job!