Staying motivated throughout the academic year can oftentimes be one of the hardest challenges students face when learning online. Working towards building healthy and sustainable study habits, inspiring internal motivation, and understanding your needs and limitations are as important as any other steps you plan to take in preparation to learn online. This chapter will explore some of the measures you can take to feel more prepared.
4.1 Before the Term
As students, we are oftentimes limited in the course selection we have (i.e.having to adhere to program requirements). Nonetheless, with the room we do have to choose courses, it is important to pick courses that will interest you and may even challenge you. Research all your class options, speak to an academic advisor and ask what your options are. This will help stimulate you academically and provide something to look forward to you when tackling the courses that find particularly difficult or uninteresting.
While preparing for the online learning space it is also essential to try to understand and reflect on how you work best and in what environment. If you prefer to work alone in quiet spaces, try to ensure that you have that accessible to you before your start date. If you work better with a group, reach out to peers with similar schedules, and try to coordinate online sessions together.
4.2 Throughout the Term
When scheduling your courses and planning the time you will spend studying, it is important to incorporate study breaks throughout. If you are feeling overwhelmed, look into the mental health resources accessible to you. If you feel like you’re falling into bad study habits, take a step back and try to reorganize your study plan. There is no concrete ‘correct’ way to study, we have to be willing to adapt and modify our study habits when necessary.
Set realistic goals for yourself and implement benchmarks to allow you to reflect on that goal. When goals are achieved, reward yourself for the work you put in. When goals are not achieved, take it as a learning experience and move forward with the knowledge you have gained as a result.
Preparation for online learning should not commence when the semester does. Look for opportunities to develop yourself and your habits before your classes begin. Throughout the semester reflect on your progress and wellbeing, take the time to assess your growth and limitations, and do not be afraid to ask for help or support when you are feeling lost or overwhelmed.