The first week in a distance learning course can be a little overwhelming. New students must learn to study via correspondence, get used to the self-study textbooks, interact with their tutors without actually seeing them face-to-face, and balance their assignments with their everyday lives.
The following tips can help you succeed from the moment you start with your studies:
- Determine your pace. Take a look at the course requirements and your personal schedule – then, decide how much you can handle daily.
- Buy any required textbooks. If your course requires textbooks or other materials, buy them early so that you don’t fall behind on your assignments. Look for cheaper second-hand books online.
- Update your computer. Check the course syllabus to see what software or hardware you will need. You may need to install programs (such as Acrobat Reader or Real Player) in order to access the multimedia components of your course.
- Introduce yourself to the teacher. If you are in a correspondence course with many students, the teacher may never get to know you unless you take the initiative. Email your teacher with a brief introduction. Anticipate any problems and try to approach your teacher beforehand when he or she will have more time to pay attention to your concern. A teacher who knows a little bit about you will be more likely to help you through the course.
- Trade email address with your peers and make the other students your allies. They can help you study, answer your questions, and remind you of any upcoming deadlines. Best of all, they can act as a support group.
- Acquaint yourself with the course structure. Spend a few minutes exploring the material before jumping into the lessons. Make sure you understand how you can use and access all of the necessary components like lessons, lectures, chat rooms, message boards, multimedia presentations, assignment submission forms, etc. Take note of any optional material or prescribed reading that can be used to help you with your coursework.
- Place tests and assignments on your calendar. Do not expect your tutor to give you regular reminders. As soon as you receive a syllabus, record all of the assignments, tests, essays, and projects on your personal calendar.
- Establish a regular study time. Figure out how much study time you will need each week and set a regular schedule. Let your friends and family members know that you will be unavailable during that time. If you establish this routine early on, you will be more likely to stick to it.
- Get a head start on the assigned work. You can jumpstart your course by starting with an upcoming task during the first week. When the assignment deadlines draw near, you will feel confident in knowing that much of the work is already completed.
For more advice on distance learning, please subscribe to our newsletters. You’ll find the sign-up block on our home page.