16 Study Tips for Online Success

By Devora Kaye

1.  Set Realistic Goals

  • You need to be passionate and self-driven to succeed at online learning.
  • Keep in mind your end goal, why you signed up, and what you hope to achieve. Focus on the larger picture and then take it one step at a time.
  • Treat your online study like a real class or job. Remember, you’re paying for this and you want to get the most value out of it. That means setting realistic goals and staying on track
  1. Make a Study Plan and Stick to it
  • At the start of the semester, plan a detailed study schedule. Set aside a specific time every day or several times a week when you will complete readings and assignments. You can use an old- fashioned notebook or an online planner such as Mystudylife.
  • Break down large tasks in manageable chunks. Having a detailed list of when and what you want to accomplish, turns seemingly overwhelming challenges into realistic goals.
  • Successful time management is critical to online study. Stick to your schedule as you would stick to actual in-person classes
  1. Eliminate Distractions 
  • Designate a quiet space as your study area.
  • Turn off loud music, put your phone on silent, log off your email and social media accounts. Tell your family you absolutely cannot be disturbed during study hours.
  • We tend to work best at our optimum hours. If you’re a morning person, wake up early while everyone’s still asleep. If you’re a night owl, wait till it quiets down and then hit the books
  1. Get Proficient at Navigating your College Website
  • Learn your way around the college website. Get familiar with accessing online classes, assignments, and announcements.
  • Bookmark the contact info. of your instructor and other school staff so you can easily get in touch with the right person when you have issues and questions
  1. Ask Questions
  • If you have a question, ask. Don’t struggle on your own or wait around hoping the questions will go away.
  • Many online courses are built sequentially. If you’re left hanging with questions, going on to the next lessons will just exacerbate the problem. Your instructors are there to help you
  1. Avoid Cramming
  • Divide your study time in small segments of approximately one hour sandwiched in between 15 -minute breaks. You can use an online timer such as pomofocus or a simple stop- watch.
  • Breaking up your study time helps avoid eye strain and allows your brain to better process and retain information. It also eliminates the stress of last- minute cramming and gives you a feeling of being in control.
  • Taking regular breaks helps rejuvenate your brain. Take a quick walk, grab a snack, or play a short game.
  1. Finish Early
  • Avoiding pulling all-nighters as you frantically work to complete an assignment due the next day. Set your deadlines to complete assignments a day or two early.
  • Finishing early means you can critique your work again with fresh eyes and leave enough time for review, revisions, and editing
  1. Take Notes
  • While listening to online video classes, jot down notes so you can more easily remember important points.
  • If you take notes in MS Word, you can click on the Find feature and search for information you need. This eliminates having to re-listen to classes
  1. Choose E-text books
  • E-text books are usually less expensive than standard texts.
  • Many come with an option to use the text to speech option so that you can also listen to books rather than just reading.
  • You can also highlight important points, take notes in the book, and then compile them in outline format for review
  1. Don’t Multitask
  • Contrary to popular opinion, multitasking is less efficient than focusing on one thing at a time. Researchers from Stanford University reported that “People who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information cannot pay attention, recall information, or switch from one job to another as well as those who complete one task at a time.”
  • Concentrate on one thing at a time. You’ll retain more information and get assignments done more effectively
  1. Connect with Fellow Students
  • Get a study partner, exchange peer critique, share resources and tips and get support and encouragement. Connect with other students through discussion boards and online group assessments. You can gain invaluable knowledge from interacting with other students. It also helps keep you motivated in an environment which might otherwise feel isolated at times.
  • A good way to stay on track and complete your work is to get an accountability partner. Pair up with a fellow student and have him or her check in from time to time. It will help you keep going
  1. Figure out your Learning Style
  1. Switch Topics
  • It can be tough focusing on one subject for a long period of time. So, if for example, you’re enrolled in four courses, try setting aside one hour for each course. You could then study for four hours and finish what you need to do.
  • Switching topics is a great technique to stay focused for longer durations and retain more information rather than attempting to study for just one course for a longer period of time
  1. Healthy Lifestyle= Healthy Mind
  • Your brain works best if you treat your body well.
  • Get enough sleep, maintain a healthy diet, exercise regularly, get fresh air, and stay well hydrated
  1. Make Studying Fun
  • Turn on slow music, have a cup of coffee, reward yourself with a treat when you’ve accomplished what you’ve set out to do
  1. Bookmark these Handy Online Resources

Take advantage of the plethora of online resources available for college students. Here are some you can explore:

  • Organize your class notes with Evernote
  • Create flashcards, quizzes, and practice tests with Quizlet
  • Increase your productivity with Marinaratimer– a personal timer
  • Explore over 7,000 videos in 13 subjects with Hippocampus
  • Search through hundreds of IT tutorials with Findtutorials
  • Edit your academic essays with help from Hemingway
  • Organize your research papers with Mendeley