Translating Free Time into Course Time
To determine how many hours you will need to complete assignments and study each week to get “A’s” in one course, use the following rule:
- Study two hours per credit hour for an easy class
- Study three hours per credit hour for an average class
- Study four hours per credit hour for a difficult class
For example, if you would like to enroll in an art appreciation class worth 3 credits, and rumor has it the class is pretty easy, you would need to work on assignments and study an average of six hours a week in order to get an “A.” Conversely, if you would like to enroll in an advanced calculus course worth 3 credits, you would probably need twelve hours per week to work on assignments and study to achieve an “A.”
Managing Your Time
Although allotting twelve hours a week to a course seems very intimidating, you have the power to create a schedule to suit your individual needs and personality, one which will help you study at the best possible times.
How much time should you allot for studying each day and how should it be distributed? Here are some tips for getting started:
- Set goals for what you wish to accomplish: daily, weekly, monthly, etc.
- Study in chunks: 20-50 minute time periods followed by a brief break (5-10 minutes) is the most effective way to study.
- Use daylight hours: an hour of studying during the day is worth two at night. Do the work that requires the most concentration earliest in the day.
- Be sure to spend time on your most challenging assignments everyday and early in the day.
- Study actively: ask yourself questions, review your notes regularly, and discuss key concepts with peers and your instructor.
Designate a specific area in your home as your “classroom.” If possible, shut the door so as to close off the rest of the house. While in there, focus on course work only while studying. Don’t be tempted to answer phone calls, emails, or IM’s while online working. Also, if working online, shift your computer’s view to “full screen”. This effectively eliminates all (visual) distraction you may have on your computer screen, such as email or IM notifications.
If you find you don’t have enough time to study and your other priorities do not seem to monopolize your time, you might want to consider lightening your load. But if you do not wish to drop a course, here are tips on staying motivated when the discouraged with a course:
- Don’t be a perfectionist. Trying to be a perfect student sets you up for instant defeat. Set realistic goals for getting through the rest of the course by making the tasks look small and easy in your mind. Also reward yourself for doing the best you can.
- Use a good friend as a positive role model. If you have trouble staying motivated, try to create an online support group of peers. They’ll appreciate having someone to keep them on track as well.
- Discuss what you learn. Find a friend or relative who has similar interest or who would enjoy hearing about your studies and let them know what’s going on in your course. You’ll understand the material better when you have a chance to explain it out loud and will be motivated to stay with the course in order to keep up with the conversation.
- Take time for fun. If you’re spending all your time working, studying, and taking care of the family, you’ll likely suffer in all areas. Everyone needs some down time to re-group. So, set aside a little time every week for a favorite activity. You’ll be more productive when you return to your assignment.