I’ve mentioned in a previous blog post that I live overseas so am studying by distance. It’s not always easy, as I’m sure you can imagine, so I thought I’d put together some of my key tips for a successful semester of studying on the go. While I’ve written them with special thought for those living abroad or who travel a lot like I do, I’m sure we can all benefit so have a read and let me know what you think by leaving a comment at the end!
#1 – Become paperless
Not only will you save the environment and money by not printing things out, you will be much more mobile, which means you can studying anywhere, anytime, as long as you take your laptop with you. Better still, set yourself up with an online storage cloud. You can set it up so that your work is synced to your cloud automatically, so you don’t even need to remember to do anything extra. You’ll then be able to access all of your files from any computer across the globe as long as you have an internet connection (Note: USQ offers online storage space via UDrive though it won’t sync automatically like clouds do).
#2 – Know where to find resources before you need them
Don’t wait until the week before your assignment is due to find out where the task sheet is and how to search online for quality resources. Check out the various USQ tutorials now and save yourself time and stress later on. With international time differences it can be difficult to contact support staff (or other students) in real time for help, so it’s important to plan ahead.
#3 – Connect with other students
We all know that studying by distance can be an isolating experience, but it doesn’t have to be! Connect with others in your course through StudyDesk and set up informal study groups (using email or Skype, for example) for support. While family and friends can be a great support, it’s always nice to connect with someone else who’s also up at 2am trying to get their assignment finished before exhaustion sets in and the rest of the household is awake!
#4 – Develop a routine – but be flexible
It’s easier to get your brain into gear when you’re working to a familiar schedule but as you know, life happens and we can’t always stick to the schedule so it’s important to be flexible. If you find yourself with a spare half hour before you need to head out for Friday drinks, use it to your advantage. You probably don’t want to start a task that will require deep thought and a lot of time, but you can do shorter tasks like preparing for tutorials or listening to shorter lectures. You’ll be thankful that you already did it later in the week when your momentum is slowing.
#5 – Break tasks down into smaller chunks
There’s nothing more daunting than having a 10,000,000,000 word super long essay to write so break it up into more manageable pieces (e.g. read a relevant research article; write an essay plan, develop an introduction). Don’t forget to celebrate your achievement at the end of each chunk – but leave the weekend long wine appreciation celebration until all of the task has been completed!
#6 – Stop procrastinating!
We all do it. But for some of us (me included) it can eat up a lot of our time. Be aware of this and avoid spending all of your time preparing to get your stuff done – start your stuff now. As in right now – GO!