Arden University Business Management student, Ben Munro, is far from a novice when it comes to studying online. Here are his top tips for successful online study for all of those trying to settle into a new routine.
Ben Munro has been studying via Distance Learning for several years now. Balancing his Business Management degree with his busy lifestyle, he has the following top tips for anyone currently trying to adjust to life studying from home.
1. Invest in some nice stationery
Treat yourself to a good notebook - I find buying the same one each time helpful. Amazon does some bargains on bulk stationery. The best type of notebook is a hardback wire-bound one because you can fold the book in half without pages falling out and you can rest it on the sofa or in bed.
Be sure to get a pack of Post-it notes, too! They are great for writing notes you may not want in your notebook and you can then stick them in and move them around. I also use mine to write myself a note on what goal I want to achieve the next day; stick it to where you sit and it will be the first thing you see. It doesn’t matter when in the day you complete it, you will still feel more empowered and motivated if you get it done.
If you read from textbooks, tab Post-its are a must, too. Some are great for marking pages or you can try sticking them over important text on a page rather than highlighting the book.
2. Set up a dedicated study space
If you can, set up a space away from the hustle and bustle of the house. If you have a desk, move it near a window - if not, a dining table is fine. You need enough space to work from and be able to spread out. If you get distracted easily, try moving away from the computer if you need to read. This should help keep you focused.
3. Say ‘hello’ to your new best friend: your headphones...
Sharing a house? You may find it difficult to concentrate with the noise, so if you don't already have some, invest in a decent pair of headphones (if you’re able to). I recommend noise-cancelling ones because they keep out background noise even if you don’t put any music on. Try opting for wireless, as well, so you don’t get all tangled up while you’re studying.
4. … and don’t forget to make the most of them!
Make use of the free playlists on YouTube - there are some that are hours long! The best music I find to study to is either ambient noises or what they call 'focus' music. Or try any other music that motivates you. Everyone is different!
5. Stay in touch
Even if you and your classmates can’t see each other face-to-face, remember to stay in touch. Keep sharing ideas and if you can, create specific WhatsApp or Teams groups to make it easier to talk and support each other. Microsoft Teams is my favourite and you can download it to a MacBook and any other Apple device if you're not on Windows.
6. Take some time for yourself
When you don’t leave home to attend classes at university, the lines between the two can become blurred and it's all too easy to get tunnel vision and sit in front of the computer for hours. Remember to take regular breaks. If you can, make use of your permitted exercise time outside; go for a walk or even just sit in the garden, take a drink and read a book that isn't related to university. You’d be surprised by how much a short break can help you regain focus when you return to the task at hand.
Studying via Distance Learning is a great way to get that qualification without having to leave the comfort of your own home.