Studying online is hard. It requires a lot of motivation, commitment and self-discipline. But it’s not impossible. Obviously, your initial drive is EVERYTHING. If you’re not fully committed to making it work or if you don’t believe that you can do it, then it won’t happen. But we all go through ups and downs. We all struggle and need help sometimes. That’s why we’ve decided to put together 6 useful tips that you can apply in order to successfully complete ANY online course.
Michael Holmes is a student on the Ruby developer path at OpenClassrooms. He has been very active within the student community and has helped students with motivational issues. Today, he’s sharing his top tips with you.
So Michael… How do I successfully complete an online course?
Tip 1 – Set smaller goals
Goals, goals, goals… That cannot be overemphasized. At the start of each week, I have a main goal I would like to accomplish by the end of the week, I write it down and put it somewhere I can see it every day. The weekly goal is great but does not end there. Each morning I take a few minutes to review the current situation. What do I want to accomplish today? It is important that this goal be reasonable, don’t shoot for the stars because if something comes up or its too high of an expectation and you get stuck, you will be disappointed and will be very demotivational. These small goals help you stay on track and you can quickly review the overall progress by the small steps. If you have no small goals, only the end goal of finishing your online course, it will be very hard to measure progress and you won’t see what you are accomplishing.
Tip 2 – Set up a timetable
Just having goals is not enough, when will you do the work? If you don’t plan it out, it won’t happen. I’m not calling you lazy, but things will always come up to distract you from your school: work, spending time with family/friends or the even more subtle distractions…your smartphone. Those are not bad, but if you don’t set a time each day where you can work on your online course then your progress will be slow and you will not be pleased with your slow progress. For example, if you can focus 4 hours a day on school…schedule it and do it.
Tip 3 – Find a study buddy
How will you be accountable for your studying? Having other students learning along with you is a great way, it is one of the ways in-person schools can be effective. That does not mean online schooling is doomed, by no means. Finding people going through the same struggles as you, and those who have gotten past that point can have a powerful motivating effect. Get involved in whatever way you can, if the schooling has an online presence then join and be active. Sometimes you will be in a position to help fellow students, the after effect of that is you yourself get a boost of motivation.
At OpenClassrooms, we use Workplace so that student can interact with each other. Here’s a blog article that explains how it can help you with your studies.
Tip 4 – Find a mentor
How well does a football (soccer) team perform without a coach? How about with an experienced coach helping guide them? If your online schooling does not have a mentorship program, I highly recommend finding someone who is willing to help mentor you.
Your mentor was not born with the knowledge they have now, they had to learn it, they had to go through the struggles. They know what YOU are dealing with, what you have to do and also what you CAN and will accomplish. A major benefit of a mentor is you can reach out to them when you are stuck, don’t know where to turn or have any struggles. They are not there to do the work for you but help you know what you need to do to move forward.
Find a mentor, get a mentor, be kind to your mentor.
Editor’s note: Did you know students get weekly 1-hour mentoring sessions when they follow a path at OpenClassrooms?! Here’s a Q&A with Rohan Taneja, an Android mentor at OpenClassrooms, explaining the mentoring process and how it all works.
Tip 5 – Reward yourself
The first point of this was to make small goals, what do you do when you are getting your goals checked off? How about after a week of study that went well, or after you complete that large project that was looming over you for weeks? It is important that you reward yourself in a balanced and healthy way. Go out with friends, go to the movies, treat yourself as a reward. You can look back at what you’ve done, feel great and know that if you keep pushing forward you can do even more…and you will.
Tip 6 – Take care of your health
Imagine two athletes, one is well rested and eats balanced food, the second gets little sleep and lives off caffeine and sugar. Which one will consistently perform better and maintain the regime goes without saying. While this is not a fitness or health blog, when you are learning this new material you are using one critical part of your body… your brain! Getting enough sleep at night, and drinking enough water and balanced food will help you to think clearer and focus more. Also if you spend hours on end sitting, get up every hour or so and walk a few minutes, or if you have been really stuck on a problem… take a 10 min break and get some fresh air before going back to studying. This will not suddenly make you Albert Einstein but it will improve your brains function to help you put your best effort toward accomplishing your online course and your goal.
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OpenClassrooms is the leading online education platform with over 3 million users monthly. It offers free courses as well as internationally recognized programs in tech and design. You can find more information here.
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