6 Ways to Stay Motivated With Online Learning

By Tess Pajaron

During the last few years, online learning has become a viable alternative to traditional learning environments. This modality of studying helps students to save both time and money on commuting, but prospective learners should remember that its specific nature radically differs from regular classroom learning styles. In order to make the most from their online courses, students must boast excellent time management skills, have clear study goals and stay organized throughout their period of study.

Since online learners bear much more responsibility over their learning process, they require a high level of motivation for completing their coursework. Here are 6 practical tips on how to stay motivated and enthusiastic when attending an online course.

Tess Pajaron1.  Choose your field well

There is nothing more important for staying motivated than following your passion, which you also consider significant to your life and career. When choosing an online course, consider your options carefully and go for those learning opportunities that will help you achieve the career you want. This awareness will help keep you on track – you will see your activities as a meaningful part of a larger whole.

2.  Establish realistic goals

This is another important point that can significantly affect your attitude towards your studies. If you’ve always struggled with writing, don’t expect to create a great essay in a couple of hours. This way you’re just setting yourself up for failure, and it’s safe to assume that every failure will also negatively affect your motivation.

Be realistic, set reasonable goals for yourself in appropriate time frames. Once you accomplish them, you’ll immediately feel a sense of achievement. This feeling will keep you going, helping you realize your full potential over time.

3.  Track your progress

Keep a journal or a calendar filled with small weekly and monthly goals. Make sure to closely track your progress by ticking off every accomplished task – seeing so many little goals achieved will boost your self-esteem and help you stay motivated, even when the amount of work starts to stress you out.

4.  Talk about your learning materials

Don’t shy away from commenting on your study process. If this is a challenge, make sure to keep in touch with your instructor through a designated e-learning platform or simply by e-mail – you can share your insights and ask for additional resources.

It’s important to stay connected with your trainers and assessors as well as other students who are studying your course, or within your course area. Many online education providers now have specialized learning platforms that are designed to connect students with each other. Often, there are dedicated social media groups such as Facebook groups, Pinterest share boards and even blogs that are included as part of your online course. Make sure to keep in touch with your trainers through a designated e-learning platform or simply by e-mail – you can share your insights and ask for additional resources.

5.  Think positively

Positive thinking is an important part of the whole motivational process. Feeling fatigue or stress can affect your perception of the class and the subject itself, making you miserable and unproductive. Try to think positively and talk with your instructor or other students. Their advice might help you through hard times. Remember to reserve some time for yourself once in a while – no one can be expected to manage all their daily tasks and education without a break.

6.  Reward yourself

Consider all the work you’re doing – objectively speaking, you absolutely deserve to have your success acknowledged. When you accomplish one of your goals, be it a minor or major one, make sure to reward yourself with something that will make you happy. Each and every one of these rewards will help you stay motivated in the long run.

It’s safe to say that online education demands just as much self-discipline on the part of learners as traditional education settings. It does, however, bring immense benefits to both your personal and professional life – so choose your path, believe in yourself and stay on track. With enough self-conviction and motivation you’ll be able to reach your goals.

Tess Pajaron is a Community Manager at Open Colleges, an online learning provider based in Sydney, Australia. She has a background in Business Administration and Management.


For more tips on motivation and much more, order your copy of The Secrets of Top Students today!

 

The Basics About Financing Higher Education

By Mathew Jade

Education costs have grown rapidly over the years, and students are finding it increasingly difficult to manage their finances. Funding for education is a challenging task, particularly for high school students who want to attend top-notch universities and unemployed individuals who wish to pursue different lines of work. Instead of settling for mediocre alternatives, you can still aim big by paying for your education in the following ways:

money picture

Education Grants

You may consider applying for financial grants for educational purposes. Students can acquire educational grants from the financial aid office of their universities. The best thing about grants is that you don’t have to pay them back. The only hurdle is qualifying — which isn’t necessarily easy.

Scholarships

Excellent high school students are frequently awarded merit-based scholarships, which also do not need to be repaid. The qualification for these scholarships varies, but often requires the student to have great grades and high scores on scholastic aptitude tests.

Work-Study Employment Plans

Some students work on a part-time basis to generate funds for their education. To this end, you may consider applying to your university to see if employment opportunities are available. The U.S. Government currently provides a 60 percent wage subsidy to employers of students engaged in work-study programs.

Internships and Trainings

On-the-job training opportunities and internships may allow you to to combine class attendance with full-time work. Although internships do not provide big financial compensation, they do allow students to gain practical experience, enabling them to decide about their major and possibly resulting in a job offer from the company they worked for.

Private Loans

By requesting private education loans from your friends and family, as well as from various other private sources, you may be able to cover hefty fees and pay them back in installments. Student loans can usually be arranged at either fixed or compound interest rates, which normally require a financially sound co-signer and a credit check if the loan provider is not satisfied with or unaware of your credit history. Many people believe that it is nearly impossible to repay students loans, but that’s not true; there are organizations that provide counseling for students to help them with their repayment structure.

Tax Breaks

Students may be able to get tax deductions in addition to credits towards tuition, costs, fees, and interest from student loans. However, these options are only available after paying tuition fees, and are more like rebates than discounted tuition. You can learn more about education tax breaks on the internet at government tax sites. Families can also qualify for tax breaks for their children’s education.

Mathew Jade is a passionate blogger who loves to write on Economics and finance-related topics. For further updates follow @Mathew_Jade

 


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Tips for Reducing Academic Anxiety

By Anne Davies

Study and exam-related stress is a problem for many students, whether or not they’re focused on achieving academic excellence, and it’s something that can affect students of any age. Nobody is immune to academic stress, but there are plenty of things you can do to reduce anxiety that centers on studying and exams.

Meditation can help you do better on exams. (Photo courtesy of Grand Velas Puerto Vallarta via Flickr.)

Meditation can help you do better on exams. (Photo courtesy of Grand Velas Puerto Vallarta via Flickr.)

Preparation and Organization

There are several key skills that go a long way towards reducing anxiety, just because they form a solid base of preparation and organization that help you stay focused and stay on top of your workload. Having a comprehensive study system is crucial, and it’s also important that whatever system you develop is one that works for you.

For example, having a good note-taking system is essential for college lectures, but the same system won’t necessarily work for everyone. Some people prefer to write notes by hand, others prefer to use a laptop, and some like to take audio recordings of lectures and write up notes at their leisure. It’s just a matter of trying different methods to find out what works best for you. It’s also useful to determine what your learning style is; some people learn best by listening, some by doing, some by reading or writing, and if you’re trying to force yourself into a style that isn’t optimal, studying instantly becomes less effective and more stressful.

One of the most important skills to have is that of time management: being able to organize your time and use it effectively, prioritizing tasks based on how urgent they are, and sticking to whatever schedule you create for yourself. Without good time management, you’re likely to end up completing assignments at the last minute, losing sleep studying the night before exams, putting yourself through a considerable amount of unnecessary stress, and impairing your academic performance. Study and exam anxiety is often related to lack of preparation, so the key way to reduce that anxiety is simply to create a study schedule and stick with it.

And finally, take advantage of the wealth of apps and programs that have been created for time management and study organization. There are some incredibly useful tools available—many of which are free—that can help you improve your study habits and manage your time more effectively.

Of course, for some people, no amount of preparation can help reduce academic anxiety to a manageable level, so it’s also useful to consider other methods of coping with study-related stress.

Relaxation Techniques

The second aspect is learning how to relax and control your anxiety; and while to some this might seem like the easy part, it’s very difficult for many people. It’s especially difficult when study anxiety isn’t rooted in tangible problems like lack of organization, because when anxiety develops for no apparent reason, it’s harder to manage because there are no concrete ways to solve the root cause. Regardless of the cause of the anxiety, however, there are some techniques that can definitely help reduce anxiety and stress, and all of the problems and symptoms they cause. One of these is meditation—a technique that has become widely used all over the world by all kinds of people, is easy to start, and when practiced regularly, is very effective. There’s more than one kind of meditation, however; for example, there’s mindfulness meditation, guided meditation, Taoist Qi gong, and transcendental meditation. While none are specifically aimed at managing stress, the general consensus is that mindfulness meditation, or Vipassana, is the most effective in this regard. Recent studies show that this kind of meditation can improve cognitive function as well as reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, so it’s perfect for students.

Meditation isn’t going to be possible during a test situation, of course, but there are some related techniques that are perfect for reducing anxiety when it hits. Simply spending thirty seconds or a minute engaging in deep breathing—long, slow breaths in and out—can be very calming. Another useful technique is “mindfulness moments,” in which you take a few seconds to engage with your surroundings by taking note of what you can see, hear, smell, and feel. Engaging your senses helps you feel more grounded, and helps you link back to the calming sensations you feel during mindfulness meditation exercises.


For more tips on relaxation and other study skills, order your copy of The Secrets of Top Students today!

Are High-Achieving Students More Likely to Have Eating Disorders?

By Anne Davies

Eating disorders are a major problem in our society – one which is growing all the time. Many blame the unrealistic portrayal of physical ‘perfection’ in the media for the rise, and there certainly seems to be little doubt that a sense of personal physical inadequacy and a need for ‘perfection’ are contributory factors in eating disorder development. Other theorized triggers for the development of an eating disorder include a history of being bullied, a poor social and/or home life, and genetic factors. However, what surprises many is the demographics of those who tend to suffer from eating disorders. Far from being a problem restricted to superficial teenage girls, the eating disorder spectrum encompasses a vast and growing range of people from all walks of life – and high-achieving students are particularly at risk.

students eating

Photo courtesy of Penn State via Flickr

Poor Stereotypes

Eating disorders are, unfairly, considered to be a disease suffered exclusively by teenage girls who are obsessed with their appearance above all else. Indeed, such girls are considered something of a cultural joke – the trope of superficial teenage cheerleaders heading merrily to the bathroom to throw up has been played for laughs many times. This is wrong on the one level – bulimia is a serious illness requiring extensive and intensive recovery. It should not be treated as a joke, no matter who is suffering from it. So ingrained is this stereotypical perception of eating disorder sufferers that many keep the fact that they are struggling with such conditions silent, so as not to be considered superficial. The former Deputy Prime Minister of Britain, John Prescott, revealed in 2008 that he had battled bulimia for ten years without breaking silence, as he was ‘ashamed’ of being high profile, high achieving, and male while suffering from the illness. More worryingly, the public’s reaction to the news proved him somewhat right – while many were sympathetic, others responded with incredulity and ridicule. This is deeply unfair. Not only is it cruel and unnecessary to mock someone with a serious illness, there is considerable evidence to suggest that high-profile high achievers like Prescott (and, on a lesser scale, valedictorians) are more likely to suffer from an eating disorder than many other groups.

Perfectionism

It’s all to do with perfectionism. Perfectionism is either a blessing or a curse, depending upon which aspect of your life you apply it to. Many valedictorians will recognize the urge to get things absolutely right 100% of the time. Being used to being good at academic matters, valedictorians sometimes find it hard to deal when they are bad at something – they aren’t used to it, and therefore haven’t built up the emotional software necessary to take the knocks and build from them. This is great when it comes to achieving in many areas of life – valedictorians are made from the kind of stuff that won’t back down from a challenge, and will persevere at something until they get it absolutely right. However, when one lets that perfectionism leak over into other life areas, things can go wrong – particularly when combined with the tendency to over-analyse which comes as part of the package for many high-achievers. Research is increasingly finding that obsessive perfectionism and over-analysis present a major risk for the development of eating disorders. If you can’t switch off and just let certain aspects of your life ‘be’, then you’ll start overanalyzing and trying to control every little thing, which can quickly lead to one becoming obsessively controlling about what they eat – particularly when combined with internal perfectionist pressure to look a certain way.

(Editor’s Note: Check out an article I wrote about students and perfectionism here.)

Control

High achievers often feel an intense amount of pressure – and it is well known that stress can manifest as disordered eating. When one feels pressured, one often feels that aspects of one’s life are spiralling out of control. An easy way to reassert control over one area at least of one’s life is through controlling one’s diet. One eating disorder which high-achievers are increasingly beginning to suffer from is a condition known as ‘orthorexia nervosa’. This manifests when a person becomes so absolutely obsessed with controlling the ‘purity’ of what they eat that their health (ironically) begins to suffer as a result. The degree of control required to sustain an orthorexic diet is phenomenal to the point of obsession, and ensures that the sufferer’s self-esteem quickly becomes dependent upon their diet. It’s frequently a slippery slope from orthorexia to anorexia or bulimia so, while it is of course very good indeed to watch what you eat and ensure that your food is healthy, if your diet starts controlling your life, take a step back and focus on more important things.

Self-Recognition

Perhaps the worst thing about developing an eating disorder is the impact which it has on the rest of your life. Remember, an eating disorder is primarily psychological – and it leaves little brain space for anything else. As such, your studies will naturally suffer while you battle the condition. It is vital, therefore, that you develop the self-knowledge necessary to recognize if and when your eating habits are becoming problematic. If you catch the tendencies early, and seek help as soon as possible, it will be much easier to break the condition and get your life back on track. Speaking out is the most important thing – no matter what sitcoms like Family Guy may claim, eating disorders are not a joke, and no medical professional or person who cares will laugh at you for having one. Help is available – just remember that your health is more important than your appearance!

How to Make a Fashion Statement on a College Budget

By Alison Stanton

As a college student, you probably feel like you figuratively wear many different hats on any given day. There’s your “in class” hat, your “trying to impress the professor during my oral presentation” hat, the “hanging out in the dorms” hat, and, the ever-popular “heading to my first-ever real job interview” hat.

The trick is to create a stylish wardrobe versatile enough that you’re ready for all of these different situations, without spending a zillion dollars or needing a closet that rivals Ivana Trump’s. Fortunately, it’s more than possible to assemble a fashionable fall wardrobe that won’t require you to take out a massive loan. Here’s where to start.

fashionable girl Continue reading