10 stips for online students to make studying a cinch

Posted at 2:37 PM, Mar 31, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-31 16:37:10-04

Editor’s note: This article, authored by Elizabeth Mellem, originally appeared on

DENVER — Online students have the freedom of flexibility and convenience, but motivation and self-discipline are required to be successful. Coursework and assignment completion are one thing, but studying for a test or writing a paper? Completing those tasks really forces students to buckle down, focus, and put their knowledge to the test (pun intended).

In today’s post we’re giving you 10 tips for studying successfully. Utilize these tried and true recommendations to make studying a cinch. With the right environment, some pre-planning, and knowing what works best for you, you’ll create the study routine you need to earn the grades you deserve.

#1 Get a good study buddy.

You don’t need to be alone to study, in fact, partnering with a study buddy, or study buddies, can make it enjoyable. You may be thinking, “I’m an online student, how can I partner with a study buddy?” and that’s a great question.

Study buddies don’t need to be classmates, or even be in school themselves. A study buddy can be anyone who adds to your study environment. Maybe it’s your pet, your child, your favorite blanket, a cup of tea, a notebook…the list could go on and on and on. Whatever it is that you like to have around when you study, that’s your study buddy.

#2 Schedule your study time.

Our average online student is 35 years old, working full-time, married, and living with children. With that said, it’s easy to see why scheduling study time is so important for online learners. Without a set schedule, you’re prone to push back tasks that you know aren’t due until the end of the week.

The problem with that is you probably want to enjoy your weekend, and we want that for you too. Create a weekly schedule that works with your lifestyle and responsibilities. Stick with it and adjust as you need to make sure you’re succeeding at home and in the classroom.

#3 Create your study space.

Everyone has different needs when it comes to creating their learning environment. Some people want to listen to music or have the television on, while others need complete silence. Many work best at a desk or table, while other students would rather sit on the couch or lay in bed as they study.

Regardless of what your study space looks, feels, and sounds like, you need to create one that works for you. Creating a designated space for study can put you in the right mind set to get things done.

#4 Set study expectations for friends and family.

As mentioned above, many online learners are juggling much more than just coursework, something you may be able to relate to. Studying, writing papers, and completing course assignments require focus and concentration in order to retain all the valuable information you’re learning. Unfortunately, family and friends can be a huge distraction.

Set study expectations with friends and family so they know when you’re not available. Mark it on the family calendar, create an away message on instant messenger apps and social media, put your phone on silent, or display a “do not disturb” sign on your study space door. Setting these hard lines and expectations will give you the undisturbed time you need to get work done efficiently and effectively.

#5 Set study expectations for yourself.

Family and friends aren’t the only ones who may need guidelines around your schedule. Often times, regardless of planning and knowing what you should be doing for your courses, more exciting things come up, procrastination sets in, or you “just don’t feel like it.” Totally understandable, but not at all helpful.

Putting off what you know needs to get done will only result in a frantic rush at the end. You won’t retain as much information, which is the whole reason you’re in school, and you may submit less-than-acceptable assignments, which impacts your final grade.

Stick to the guidelines you’ve set for yourself. If you can adjust to allow for some impromptu fun, great, but if you know you can’t make up that time later, you’re only hurting yourself.

#6 Get study help.

Being an online student doesn’t mean you’re alone. Your instructor, fellow classmates, tutors, and advisers are all available to help you succeed. Many online universities offer similar student services to what you’d expect from traditional institutions.

If you’re having trouble with something, reach out to the resources available to make the most of your educational investment. You’re on this educational journey to reach a goal: maybe you want to switch industries, earn a promotion, or move into a new industry. Whatever the reason may be, you’re not going to get there without asking for help.

#7 Take study breaks.

This one is pretty obvious, but you’d be surprised how many students get lost in their studies and forget to give themselves a break. A great way to make sure you take regular breaks is to set an alarm on your phone that will remind you to take a walk, stretch your legs, make a quick snack, or just “unplug” to give your mind a chance to reset. When you come back you’ll feel refreshed and ready to get back to work.

#8 Eat study food.

When you sit down for a study session you need to be fueled by the right combination of proteins (meat, poultry, nuts, eggs), carbohydrates (fruits and vegetables), and fats (avocado, coconut oil, cheese, milk). Relying on these all-natural sources will give you the concentration, focus, endurance, and overall well-being necessary make the most of your study time.

Avoid sugar-filled soda pop and candy, and heavy bread-based carbs to avoid feeling lethargic, fatigued, and without the energy you need to retain the information you’re learning.

#9 Stay hydrated.

It’s recommended that you drink half of your body weight (in pounds) in ounces of water each day. Make sure your study space is equipped with some cool, clean water to keep your body working at its best. Not only will your skin look better, but you can avoid headaches and unnecessary snacking when your body is hydrated.

#10 “Teach” what you’ve been studying.

Last but not least, a great way to ensure that you’re ready for a test is to pretend to teach the material. Close your notes, your computer, and your text books and see how well you really know the subject by holding a mock class. You’ll quickly see where you need to spend more time studying.

Work smarter, not harder, by following these 10 study tips, and find the best routine, space, schedule, and food that works for you. Don’t be afraid to mix-it-up and adjust based on your surroundings, what you’re studying, and what the week holds.