There is one common constraint among students who want to study and pursue a degree or learn new skills – flexibility. Family and work obligations make it difficult for most undergraduates and working professionals to enroll in a traditional class because of the fixed schedules that conflict with their other activities. It is this challenge that drives more and more students into signing up for online courses. With online courses, students are not compelled to sacrifice their daily responsibilities as they can adjust their study time.
Despite the convenience that time flexibility gives online students, however, successfully completing an online course takes a lot of effort. Although educators go through comprehensive planning when they create online courses from scratch to make sure that these engage and provide students with a positive learning experience, without the physical presence of a mentor, online learners will have to possess a lot of self-motivation, discipline, commitment, and, most importantly, time management skills.
Here are some ways to manage one’s schedule to ensure that there will always be enough time allocated for online learning:
Create a Study Calendar
Before you start with your online course, check your syllabus and plot study times on your calendar. Doing this will help create a structure and keep you organized. Evaluate your daily routine and see which hours are ideal for studying given the usual activities that you go through on a daily basis, then set aside a block of time each day to work on your online course. Make sure to commit to the hours you have set for your online learning as well as the due dates that you place on your study calendar. This way, you are able to manage your time well and attend to your responsibilities to your family and work without falling behind your online course.
Make Studying a Daily Habit
Even on your busiest day, make sure to make time for your online learning. When you make it a habit to check in daily, you are able to work towards the completion of your online course in manageable bites and so you don’t get overwhelmed with the course requirements. If you have to attend to your child’s school activity or go to a business conference, make use of your smartphone or tablet during lag times and check if there are any updates or new discussions related to your course.
Use your study calendar to check what lies in the next 5 to 8 weeks so you can use any extra time you have in the immediate future to prepare for deadlines. It is always best to start working on your projects as soon as possible and not wait for the last minute, so you have ample time to check back on it and make revisions if necessary. Looking ahead also makes it easier for you to plan other activities so they don’t conflict with the due dates of your projects or assignments.
Ask for More Time
If, in spite of all your time management efforts, you are still unable to meet specific deadlines for whatever reason, do not hesitate to reach out to your course instructor and ask for an extension. If you have been showing good performance but for some reason will not be able to submit your coursework on the set deadline, your online instructor may consider allowing you to submit your work at a later date. It is always a good move to be proactive and let your instructor know your situation as soon as possible so they can help you meet your deliverables.
With these practical tips for online students, managing your very busy schedule becomes less difficult and overwhelming. All it takes is a little planning and a lot of commitment and discipline so you get everything done on time.