The Pioneer Post

The Pioneer Post is a resource for online students that provides tips and information about distance education.


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

A Year in the Life of a Distance Learner - Part 2
By Francie Tuescher

As promised, Year Two: Something's gotta give!

Okay, the first six months or so bring about a lot of change. I've found that what's important is how you adapt to those changes. Following are some strategies that worked for me:

  • A well-functioning computer is crucial. Make sure you run a system check periodically and that you can depend on your computer and your Internet. It was worth it to me to buy a new one. No, I'm not telling everyone to go out and buy a new computer; just make sure you can depend on the one you have.
  • Register and get your textbooks early, so you can get the course you want and look over the textbook before class begins. Make sure that you have the right book, the right edition, and all of the pages!
  • Download the course information from the Internet for off-line use. Course preview week is a great time to do this. That way when your Internet is down, you aren't. Organize! It will pay off!
  • Create your own study area, whatever and wherever that is. Make it inviting. Add a comfortable chair, candle, music, the sports channel -- whatever works for you.
  • Use the course preview week and the first week of coursework to work ahead to avoid worrying when work/family and all of life's other demands take priority.
  • Probably the most important strategy is to engage help! In my case, it meant "Grandma" time once every weekend and "Big Sister" time when exams were nearing. It meant asking my spouse for half an hour of study time each night. Get the support of your friends and family.
  • I don't cram for eight hours at a time. Simple goals like reading five pages a night or writing two pages per evening works for me.
  • Think about taking your textbooks or study materials with you to doctor's appointments or anytime you anticipate a wait. Every fifteen minutes helps.
  • Plan ahead for meals. Make big batches and freeze leftovers. Shop for ingredients that can easily be combined to make a meal.
  • Check in on your group assignments once a day or every other day pending what stage of completion you're at. You don't need to be logging in six times a day!
  • Another biggie is to participate in the discussion areas and get to know other students and the instructor. Ask the class for some guidance when you need it. I remember the first time that I wrote, "I give up. Can someone just lead me in the right direction?" It worked! Next time, it's your turn to step up to the plate for another student.
  • Lastly, reward yourself!

    There you have it. That's what works for me. Find what works for you.



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