Tackling the challenges of online study

Online studying. Where’s the subject teaching us how to do that? There’s no manual, no textbook and no specific way to do it. Over the past 10 years, two-and-a-half online degrees later, I have learnt that there some hard hurdles to overcome in order to be the best student you can be.

Here are my top six challenges that online students face and how I’ve learnt to combat them!

#1 It’s a juggling act

Studying online means we have to juggle everything at once, without the fixed schedule of set class times. The flexibility is great but I also have to fit my study structure around my own schedule and find a balance somewhere in between. The trick is working out what to prioritise!

Ranking your to-do tasks by importance will keep you on track, disciplined and motivated to push through.

#2 Lonely days

I live in Sydney and study through CSU Bathurst and Wagga Wagga, so I have days where the distance feels isolating. It’s definitely convenient to study via emails and online forums but sometimes being able to pop into my lecturer’s office or chat to my peers face-to-face would be great.

So, you could organise a study catch-up with fellow students in your area or give CSU staff a ring when you’re feeling lost with a subject.

#3 Limited access

Being an online student means that library resources can be tricky to obtain. Make the most of CSU Library’s home delivery service! Or if you’re like me and live less than 300 kilometres from a CSU campus, check out second-hand options from past students or online loans.

#4 Teaching yourself

It can often feel like you have to teach yourself content when all of your resources are online. The teaching staff readily make themselves available, so jump at those opportunities for online meetings, lectures and live discussions to clarify and ask questions on the spot.

#5 Ticking boxes

Without structured classes, it’s easy to procrastinate and just go through the motions. The workload turns into having to tick boxes, rather than enjoying the study experience. study becomes about ticking boxes rather then enjoying the study experience.

To stop focusing on meeting the criteria and start learning, remind yourself why you chose this degree and allocate extended time for reading. This way you won’t feel rushed and will be motivated to explore the topic.

#6 Networking doesn’t work

Studying off campus means that I haven’t got the capacity to network with people.

However, through volunteering locally, attending Res School and completing work placement any online student can build contacts and gain experience in their own city!