This week, I start my final round of prerequisite courses for my Dietetics Program (yippee!). When I announced that I was officially going back to school, many of you expressed interest in learning more about my program and some of you are in the same boat as me and going back to school to!
Since I have successfully completed four out of seven prerequisite courses, I thought I would share a couple of tips and tricks that I learned in regards to studying and learning in a distance (or online) class.
1. Create a tidy space where you feel comfortable getting work done.
When Brian and I moved to Denver, we knew that I would be taking classes online full-time so we decided that a two bedroom apartment would give us the necessary space for this. In our second bedroom, I created a little study area with a desk, extra set of drawers, and a chair that we purchased on Craig’s List. We also have a filing cabinet that Brian’s parents gave to us. To make everything cohesive and pretty, we (mostly Brian and his mom) painted the furniture white and recovered the chair cushion.
I love having this space in our little apartment, because I know that even if Brian is home and wants to watch TV, have people over, or do something else that may distract me from studying I can go to our spare bedroom and do my thang.
2. Purchase school supplies ahead of time.
I don’t know about you, but before I started taking classes it had been a while since I purchased the traditional notebooks, folders, and writing utensils. I find that it’s best to go at the beginning of the semester after taking stock of things that I already have on hand. When I get my school supplies at the beginning of the semester, there aren’t any surprises that prevent me from getting work done in the limited time I have during the week. (for example…Oh darn! I ran out of paper in my notebook, guess I have to stop taking notes because I don’t have any other notebooks…)
Here is a general list of supplies that I like to have on hand:
I also like having a little carrier to put my folders and notebooks in for portable studying that I can take anywhere!
3. Plan out your semester (or the length of time you want to take the class) ahead of time.
When you take a class online, many times you have a year to complete the course. I appreciate the generous amount of time, but right now I want to work on more of a traditional semester schedule. Some courses will provide you with a sample schedule if this is what you wish to do, but many do not. In this case, I e-mail either the professor or a tutor and explain that I would like to have the class complete within 14-16 weeks and I ask what I need to do to make that happen (how many lessons per week, what are recommended test/assignment due dates, etc).
4. Rent your books through Chegg.com.
A friend of mine recommended using Chegg, and I am so happy she did!! It is very affordable and easy to use. My one tip is to SAVE THE ORANGE BOX that your books come in. At the end of the semester, you can mail your books back in the same box for free!
Chegg also has tutors, study guides and other resources that you can pay for with an additional fee. I took advantage of the online study guides for a couple of months and really found the extra expense worth it.
5. Plan down time.
This is something I am STILL struggling with, but I’m working on it. Because I “work and study from home” whenever I am home I feel like there is work that needs to be done. Something I need to do more this semester is get out of the house during the day. Things like taking midday walks, checking out local coffee shops, going to the library, painting my nails, and other “downtime” activities are definitely going to make their way into my schedule more often 🙂
For those of you taking online courses, I hope this helped a bit!