Thursday, January 7, 2010

By Mary Jackson

Consider the perks of a distance learning education: keep working and getting paid, forget a class attendance schedule, and have the flexibility of studying whenever convenient. In fact, students striving for an online degree seem to have the best of both worlds.

However, even learning online is not perfect. It requires a lot of discipline to stay on task and keep personal priorities straight. As a learner, you must be intrinsically motivated to succeed. Without the in-class interaction between peers and the professor, it is more difficult to keep focused on the ultimate goal.

Then, how can online students stay focused and overcome the challenges of learning from home? First, time management skills are essential. With only so many hours in the day, it is important to make time for work and family, and still have enough hours to adequately study the courses. Make a plan and stick to it. Let the family participate in your success. Let everyone know what your hours are dedicated to learning without interruption. Without a schedule, obtaining a distance learning education will be extremely difficult.

Staying motivated can be difficult for many who are earnestly striving for a distance learning education. Therefore, it is imperative to stay in contact with fellow students. With the availability of email, instant messages, class online message boards, and online chat, it is a great way to commiserate, encourage, and discuss assignments and projects. Staying in touch with other students taking the class helps in keeping each other active in class and accountable.

Also, do not forget to give yourself a pat on the back once in a while. Set up a calendar of specific goals. When the milestone is reached, reward yourself. Thus, it will be a source of encouragement and help in facing the inevitable hurdles presented by a distance learning education. In essence, it is nice to see and acknowledge personal progress.

Finally, a quiet place to study, away from distractions, is paramount. The television, telephone, and family will be very distracting and take away from quality study. Set times to not be disturbed. If necessary, lock yourself in a quiet room with adequate space to spread out on a table or desk. Sit in a comfortable chair and add any necessary elements to ensure an environment conducive to productive study.

Distance learning education is an excellent way to improve job opportunities and acquire a desired degree. However, success depends on the individual. With hard work, determination and the discipline to stay on track and maintain good study habits, academic excellence is within sight, without relocating and sacrificing job and family.

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