Five tips to stay motivated when studying online

Thinking about studying online but worried you won’t have the motivation to last the distance?  Never fear! We’ve got five simple strategies to help you become an online study ninja.

1. Make connections

One of the ways that motivation can suffer when studying – especially when you’re studying online – can be feeling like you’re on your own. When it’s just you and your computer the drive and determination doesn’t always just happen.

But you aren’t on your own when you study with Charles Sturt University (CSU), and reaching out to others can really help up the motivation factor. Online courses at Charles Sturt University (CSU) have online forums where students can connect with one another. This can be a great tool for sharing ideas, swapping advice and getting inspired.

Your online study portal at CSU is where you can reach out to your tutor, who will have great advice on any aspect of your study. You can also access support services available to CSU students through your online portal.

Another connection you can make to help keep you motivated is reaching out to people working in the industry you are studying to get in to. It can help realise or reaffirm your goals, boosting your motivation big time.

These strategies have helped David McMahon, currently studying a Master of Environmental Management.

“The online forums help me stay motivated as the constant posts and discussion maintain my focus. Being based in Wagga Wagga, I also have face-to-face social and professional interaction with other CSU alumni, staff and current students, which keeps me motivated to complete my course.”

2. Mix up your learning

Studying isn’t just re-reading notes and hoping the information sinks in.

There are lots of ways to mix up your study, such as a text-to-speech app to turn a pdf into an mp3. Or download the audio from a recorded lecture. Then take it out to listen to on a walk.

Online students on CSU’s forums have recommended rewriting notes as bullet points or turning them into a diagram or mind map. Flashcards have helped students take in bite-size bits of information – and they’re great for learning on the go.

3. Make a schedule

Planning is another strategy that helps students reinvigorate their motivation mojo. Putting subject details – assignment deadlines, exam dates and so on – on a calendar or wall planner lets you tick off milestones as you pass them, and means that you can plan your study so it doesn’t get overwhelming at any point. Speaking of which…

4. Make study a daily activity

When study piles up we can easily go into overwhelm – particularly when approaching exam or assignment time. It starts to become easier to ignore rather than engage with. So it’s a good idea to do some study – or something for your study – every day.

Dr Shaunagh Foy is a registered psychologist and a student counsellor at CSU, as part of our student support network. One of the key pieces of advice she gives is the daily activity approach.

“I recommend doing something on your study every day. Even doing something administrative like checking the format of your essay references is correct can help keep you attuned to your studies, and prevents last-minute accumulation of work – which helps keep the study–life balance throughout your course. It also helps reduce anxiety, as you are making progress with your studies every day, in however small a way.”

It’s certainly a strategy that Michelle Smith, who recently completed a Bachelor of Business Studies with CSU, found useful.

“It really helped to keep going, studying across three sessions and doing something every day. That didn’t mean we couldn’t have overseas holidays and days out; but doing something each day kept me in the study mindset and moving forward.”

And for David, the daily routine of study helps him retain focus.

“Small amounts of study often is the key. My routine is that I spend 45 minutes every afternoon after work on my studies; that way it doesn’t build up on me and get out of control.”

5. Reward yourself

When you’re studying online it’s not always top of mind to reward yourself. Between study and life you might be tempted to just get on with it. You’re going to experience some amazing achievements during your study journey and you should celebrate these. Got your assignment in on time? Reward yourself. Got a better than expected grade in your exam? Reward yourself. The reward probably shouldn’t be taking the next three weeks off study, but do something nice for yourself and motivation will bounce right back.

Applied for your online course yet? Start Now. You’ve got this.