Good Study Habits Can Be Learned part 2

College, with a degree of flexibility

Don’t let fear of traditional educational structures and experiences keep you from your higher education aspirations. There are now alternatives to the rigid learning systems you may have grown up with. With the advent of online education, you begin taking college classes by working around your schedule and having the time you need to complete your courses in a study environment in which you feel comfortable. In fact, 89% of four-year public colleges and universities offer online classes and 60% of four-year private schools offer them.5 And if you have taken college classes in the past, many universities will accept these courses as transfer credits . Be sure to do your due diligence with respect to transfer credits as you look to going back to school.

For individuals returning to the world of education and life as a student, online education has been a revelation. The appeal of its flexibility cannot be overstated -- and the number of individuals taking advantage of online classes proves that fact. Almost 25% of college graduates have taken a class online, and that percentage doubles to almost 50% among those who have graduated in the last ten years.6 Online education has enabled many fully-employed students and single parents, with competing demands on their time, to stay their course and successfully align their day-to-day lives with their long-term goals.

Another advantage of online learning, one not so obvious, is its ability to be a soft landing for students who have concerns about dusting off long neglected study skills. An online student, in the privacy of their own home, can take the time they need to go through course material, formulate any questions they have about material, and give the teacher feedback. You don’t have to worry about raising your hand, or fear asking a “dumb” question -- you don’t have to fit into any typical student profile at all. Online education provides you with an educational system that takes you for who you are now, your learning style and pace , and all the while, fulfilling your need for a fluid schedule.

Effective Studying: Time of Day Matters

All people have a best time of day to study. And when efficiency matters, using this time of day effectively is critical. Even if you have competing demands on your time, you can organize your study time schedule to some degree. And as you do, it is important to know when you are most efficient and perform at your highest level. Are you a morning person or a night owl? Be honest with yourself and try to leave a few hours of your “best times” available as study times.

Since extracting the highest level of productivity available from each moment of the day is essential to most nontraditional students, realistic time management strategies are important. Effective students, studying during their “best” times of day complete assignments in less time by performing school-related tasks when their mind is in “go” mode. Research studies have shown that what we can accomplish in 60 minutes when we’re less fatigued will take as much as 90 minutes to accomplish when we are more fatigued.7 Also, most universities recommend that students study at least two hours outside of class for every hour spent in class. When time is precious, those fatigue-related time expenditures can really add up to time that could have been spent with other commitments such as work or family.8

Remember, it’s not how long you study that’s important, it’s how well you spend your study time learning, understanding, and retaining course material that matters.

5 Pew Research Center, The Digital Revolution and Higher Education: College Presidents, Public Differ on Value of Online Learning, August 28, 2011, p. 1

6 Pew Research Center, The Digital Revolution and Higher Education: College Presidents, Public Differ on Value of Online Learning, August 28, 2011, p. 1

7 Virginia Tech, Cook Counseling Center, Time Management Tips, 2011

8 Virginia Tech, Cook Counseling Center, How many hours a week do I need for studying, 2011