6 Efficient Ways to Study for Online Courses

Online classes can be done on your own pace but can be a challenge if you do not devote time to them. (Photo by nyuhuhuu)

Online classes can be done at your own pace but can be a challenge if you do not devote time to them. (Photo by nyuhuhuu)

Psychologically whether you are an elementary student studying for a spelling test or a college student studying for a final, students are known to have some of the highest stress levels. Out of the students enrolled in school, students taking online classes are known to have the highest level of stress because they weren’t taught the course material in a traditional classroom setting with potential peers that could help them. Usually students taking online courses frantically scramble through their notes to study and eventually give up because they are unsure of what exactly to study. However, cramming information last minute or studying longer late into the night is not effective. You have to study smarter in order for it to be effective. Here are a few tips.

1.          Your location is important

Most people choose the wrong place to study. Students tend to choose places where it isn’t quiet or places where they can’t concentrate without distractions. This is one of the worst mistakes you can make when it comes to studying because it becomes harder to retain and encode the valuable information that you will need to retrieve later on. An acceptable place to study would be in a library, student lounge, or even a quiet room without distractions. It is extremely important to find a study place that best works for you because it can become useful for your future classes as well.

2.       Bring only what you need and nothing more

You can pick the best spot in the world to settle down and study but if you bring unnecessary items with you that can be distraction, you are setting yourself up for failure. In today’s society most people have their cellphone within reaching distance at all times of the day and distract us even when we are driving. Cellphones distract us constantly and it would be best to leave it at home or in the car. Most public areas have phones available in case of an emergency. Let family members or close friends that you speak to on a daily basis know that you will be studying and that you won’t have your cellphone in your possession to avoid distractions. This way they will not be alarmed that they cannot reach you.

Also, ditch the computer! Although you need the computer to work through the online course, you don’t necessarily need it to study. Computers are a strong distraction for lots of people because it’s able to perform many different things. You can easily waste hours surfing the web, IMing, checking multiple social networks, and replying to emails instead of studying. Right now, working and studying through your online course is much more important than surfing the internet and wasting your time. If you have your notes online, print them so you have a hard copy you can take anywhere. Still need the computer? Choose a study spot that blocks certain websites so you aren’t distracted.

3.       Make a schedule and stick to it

Studying has become something that people do last minute and that’s entirely the wrong approach. You need to get to know the material through a slow process in order for you to retain it. If you schedule time to study just like you schedule time to work through your online classes, you’ll find that you are able to actually remember what you studied over time. You will also be at ease that you are not cramming the night before. Studying 30 to 60 minutes per day will help you learn and remember the material. Studying regularly throughout the online course will also remind you of things you learned at the beginning of the course. Scheduling is even more important when you are involved with other activities. Most people get too involved in their other activities and forget to schedule study time resulting a cramming session before the test. Don’t be that person!

4.       Focus on what you have trouble with

Don’t waste time on something you are already comfortable with.   It is okay to brush over it quickly but don’t spend too much time on it. Focus on the material that you have a hard time understanding or have trouble memorizing. Don’t get discouraged if you can’t understand something, either ask for help or keep trying; you’ll get it. If by the end of the study session you understand what you had trouble with, then your session was successful.

5.       Take and mark your notes

Take important notations on things you need to know. Try to keep them simple but with details so you can read through them quickly. Put things you need to know in your OWN words. Lengthy and complex statements are just fancy ways to say simple things and can be hard to remember. You will be more likely to retain the information if it’s in your own words because it will be more familiar to you. Don’t forget to mark, highlight, and summarize your notes. Highlight things you have trouble remembering or things you need to study again during your next study session. Marking and highlighting your notes will force you to read through them. Summarizing will give you a quick overview of the topic when you go back to your notes. Marking your notes is only efficient if you do it the right way.

6.       Reward yourself

Studying can be a drag but if you plan a reward for yourself, it will motivate you to keep going. Divide your studying time into chunks. Studying for 4 hours without a reward can be draining and you will most like find yourself quitting. Studying for an hour and stopping for 10 minutes to get a snack or stretch can make studying a little more enjoyable. Taking a break is also better for the brain because you need to relax and clear your mind before you go back to studying material that is essential to your life. If you study for an hour without getting distracted, treat yourself with a candy bar or something you like.  Try to reward yourself with a healthy snack to avoid a sugar rush later on. Want to reward yourself with something other then food? Look here. It will help you stay motivated and studying won’t seem like a chore.

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