20 Life Hacks for Online Students

Being an online student often means that you’re balancing a million different things. From writing weekly discussion board posts to working on group projects, being an online student still requires that you put in time and dedication to earn your degree. Here, we’ve got twenty tips that should make your student life a whole lot easier.

Know Your Student Discounts

One of the tremendous benefits of being a student and having a .edu email address is the student discounts! Amazon Prime, Windows, Apple, Spotify, HP, Norton, and Best Buy are just a few companies that offer student discount options.

Use Apps to Your Advantage

While technology can be a major distraction, it can also be extremely helpful for organization and homework. Evernote, Quizlet, and MyHomeworkApp are a few apps and websites students might find help cut through the chaos.

Know Your Microsoft Word Shortcuts

You will probably be spending a lot of time completing assignments in Microsoft Word. Cut down on your homework time by knowing these shortcuts.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions

If you aren’t sure about an assignment or need help clarifying a course concept, reach out to your instructor! They are there to help you understand course material and answer any questions you may have. The earlier you ask, the better – you don’t want to need help right before the midterm exam.

 Break Up Your Studying

Staying focused on one thing for too long can actually cause you to be less productive. Try studying for 30-50 minutes with 10 minutes breaks to improve your studying. Or, try the Pomodoro Technique.

Be Active

When you take a break, consider taking a walk. Being active can helps not only your body, but also your mind. Florida Tech professor Natalie Fala says, “Even if exercise isn’t our thing, just getting a little bit of walking in during the day, getting out in the sun and doing something [is important]. And exercise can be a social activity. You can bring a friend with you or be around other people in some sort of class or group.”

Don’t Forget Your Mental Health

It’s important to maintain your emotional wellness in addition to your physical health. Balancing school with everything else can get overwhelming, so taking the time to meditate and have some quiet time will ultimately help you stay focused and motivated with whatever you have going on.

Meal Prep

Preparing your meals for in advance can be a huge time saver. Try meal prepping on a Sunday night so that you don’t have to worry about cooking during on those busy weeknights. Check out more information on meal prep here.

Pretend You’re the Teacher

One way to shake up your studying routine is to pretend that you are the instructor. If you explain the material you have to know for your upcoming test to someone else, it helps you better absorb it.

Get a Study Buddy

While finding a class companion in an online course can be slightly trickier, there are plenty of ways to communicate with your classmates, including direct message, email and discussion board. Finding someone who you can discuss homework and prepare for exams with can help you remain motivated.

Don’t Procrastinate

Typically, courses have most of the assignments due on Sunday nights. So, students may think they can wait until the weekend to get started on homework. This approach leads to stress and rushed assignments! Instead, break up your work into small chunks to avoid procrastination and ensure you get everything done.

Put Your Due Dates Where You Can See Them

For important dates, consider placing a master calendar on your fridge so that you can have visibility into your schedule on a regular basis. That way, a big assignment doesn’t catch you by surprise.

Use All Your Time Wisely

That thirty minutes in between work and your yoga class? Use it. Those twenty minutes it takes for your dinner to bake in the oven? Take advantage of them! Using every minute of your time, instead of letting downtime pass you by, can add up to some serious productivity by the end of the week if you use it correctly.

Put Your Phone Away

Your phone has more distraction power than you may realize. According to a 2017 study in The Journal of Association of Consumer Research, the mere presence of your phone “reduces availability of cognitive capability.” Although the temptation to check every notification is understandable, try to put your phone in your desk drawer or otherwise hide it from you if you are studying.

Write Notes Down

While it’s easy to watch lecture videos and start doing something else (fold laundry, do the dishes, etc.), you should be taking notes for maximum absorption of the content. These notes will come in handy later on for your discussion board posts and other assignments. One trick is to take handwritten notes to encourage memory and then type them up, both reinforcing the concepts and making it easier for you to search your notes later.

Let Google Work For You

There are many ways you can use Google to your advantage, including the following:

  • Find in-depth info by Googling “the subject matter + filetype:ppt”
  • Find your textbook on-the-go by Googling “the name of your textbook + filetype:pdf”
  • Use Google Scholar to find primary research sources
  • After writing a paper, copy and paste the text into Google Translate. You can listen to it to find mistakes.

Use Online Citation Services

MLA, APA, CMS – there are different citation styles you may have to use throughout your school career. Luckily, there are also many online citation tools you can use that can help you format your bibliography no matter what your instructor requires. Bookmark whichever online citation tool works best for you.

Block Digital Distractions

If you log on to your computer and before you know it, you’ve been on Facebook for two hours and haven’t done a single homework assignment, you should consider one of the many apps and plugins now available that can help you block digital distractors.

Create the Right Atmosphere

From relaxing music to stimulating scents, there are many ways to put yourself in the mood to study. Whether you like listening to coffee house sounds or classical music, Spotify and YouTube both have a variety of playlists that can help you focus. Lighting a candle or using essential oils also helps some people stay alert and maintain concentration. You can learn more about creating a productive study space here.

Say No

Last but not least, this life advice is essential for busy online students. Before agreeing to watch your sister’s kids or go to your niece’s violin recital, it’s essential for you to check your school calendar. While it may be hard to say no to social plans, the sacrifice will all be worth it in the end. Your education is a major investment in yourself, and you get out of it what you put into it.

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