Tips on How to Stay Motivated While Attending Online School
Why do some people find it easy to remain motivated and focused when taking online school courses while others experience the tragic consequences of procrastination and loss of interest? Although the ability to obtain a higher education degree online is one of the best outgrowths to emerge from the invention of the internet, many people fail to take advantage of this opportunity simply because they allow their anxieties and fears to overwhelm their inherent talent for achieving success and completing an online degree program.
The access we have to so many digital devices only seems to indulge our all-too-human urge to procrastinate and delay something that causes us anxiety, indecision or a sense of hopelessness. One of the best tips on how to stay motivated while attending online school is to turn off cell phones and Ipods before digging into a homework assignment. Don’t just place these devices out of reach–turn them all the way off so that the temptation to grab it and quickly scan your messages isn’t as great. Knowing that you have to turn it on, wait for it to load and then pick up a signal before it gives you the information you want may provide enough “oh, I’ll do that later” kind of attitude that keeps you focused on your homework.
Procrastination is usually not about disliking a certain task but more about the anxious feeling it generates in a person who lacks the self-esteem to think they will do a good job or will be able to finish the job. This is especially relevant when it comes to both online and traditional college coursework involving research papers, essays or simply studying for a test. Moreover, students tend to be “overjustifiers” in regards to why they are not able to finish an assignment on time. Some of the more frequently heard reasons for procrastinating by online students include:
- I started too late and now I am too tired to do a good job on the paper
- I know I will get a D or F on the essay so why do it (or why study for the exam)?
- I just don’t know where to start
- The instructor expects too much out of me
- I don’t understand what the instructor wants and now it’s too late to ask about it
Although students may temporarily avoid the stress of actually completing an assignment, the problems they encounter later by failing to turn in a paper (or not studying for a test) is much worse than it would have been if they had at least attempted the project and turned in something for the instructor to grade.
Overcoming Procrastination as a First Year Online School Student
Begin defeating your procrastinating tendencies while trying to earn an online degree by first realizing why you procrastinate when it concerns assignments, exams or simply logging into your classes. Understand that instructors do no expect perfection from any of their students, but they do expect students to do the best they can. Trying to live up to what you think the definition of perfection is solidly contributes to putting off completion of course assignments as well as many other tasks you want to execute and finish.
Instead of approaching the act of writing an essay or research paper with an attitude of “I’ve got ten pages to write, research to do, a bibliography to compose–it is just too much”, approach it as though you only had one page to write rather than ten. For example, if you are a criminal justice major and your instructor wants you to write a research paper about the effectiveness of the prison system, begin by writing two or three paragraphs voicing your opinion about this topic. Do you think it is an effective way to deter crime or do you think prisons do nothing to help inmates change their ways once they are released? Give some details supporting your belief. Compose a solid ending that neatly wraps up the preceding paragraphs and then check for spelling or punctuation errors. Look at the page that you have written and realize that you have just written the last page of your research paper!
Now, start researching the ideas about which you have just written. When you find an interesting bit of information about it, stop and write several paragraphs about this information, making sure you cite the source. Many students find themselves wasting time by planning, doing hours of research, taking copious sets of notes but failing to begin actually writing the paper. By completing small sections of a large project and then organizing it into one, neat research paper is a common method used successfully by procrastinating students of both traditional and online school
More Tips on How to Stay Motivated While Attending Online School
Procrastination and motivation are closely related concepts. When students of online degree programs remain motivated and focused, they tend to dismiss procrastinating and dive right into to assignments, studying for exams and logging into class every day. However, that driving, ambitious feeling of motivation can suddenly wane once the semester begins if a student does not realize beforehand the importance of prioritizing, exercising good time management skills.
Here are some ways to help you stay motivated while earning your degree online:
- Do not be afraid to ask for help if the online school experience proves to be more complex and intense than you thought originally thought it would be. Quality, accredited online schools retain professional guidance counselors that are know how hard it is for many students to stay motivated while taking online classes. They can help you overcome any anxieties you may have about doing assignments and taking exams as well as provide you with expert advice in overcoming time management and procrastination issues.
- Keep reminding yourself why you are enrolled in online school–to earn a degree in order to obtain the knowledge necessary to have access to more extensive employment opportunities. Do you really want to work at a job with which you find extremely boring, tedious and dead-end for the rest of your life? Alternatively, wouldn’t you rather work in a field that you love and get paid well for doing it?
- Even though students are not physically interacting with other students in an online classroom, the ability to connect with people taking the same class is easy, available and can provide a great source of motivation for those who need it. Don’t ever think you are the only one who is having trouble managing time and staying motivated while taking online classes! Talking with others about methods they use to remain focused and prioritizing their life may help tremendously with your own difficulties.
- If you are a first year student, avoid taking more than three classes if you already know you may experience motivational issues. One of the quickest ways to frustrate your “I am going to do this” attitude is take on too much work before you have had a chance to acclimate yourself to the online school experience. Your freshman year should be moderately paced and classes should involve one or two general education courses plus one or two core courses.
- Finally, staying motivated is not something other people can do for you. Attitude, perseverance and understanding exactly what you want to do with your life is something only you can envision and accomplish. Consistently visualize where you plan to be and what you plan to be doing after earning your degree and a strong sense of motivation will effortlessly follow.