Distance learning has become the preferred option for many students and the percentage of enrolled college students who choose online classes is rising. Distance learning can offer several advantages over traditional courses. 

The main reason students choose to study online is that they have existing commitments preventing them from attending campus-based courses — i.e. full-time employment or children. The fees for online courses tend to be cheaper and have fewer expenses involved as you won’t be required to travel to and from classes. Another fantastic benefit of distance learning is that it provides greater flexibility and allows you to create a study schedule that suits your family and lifestyle. 

Modern technology has made it possible for students to earn an extensive variety of qualifications from the comfort of their homes. There are loads of great benefits to studying online, although you should also be aware of the potential challenges. In particular, distance learners must be extremely self-motivated and organized to keep on top of their course work and deadlines. 

Remote students are also more at risk of issues such as loneliness, stress, and mental health disorders. That said, there are lots of things you can do to ensure that you are healthy and productive while studying an online course. Here are some suggestions to help you study effectively at home. 

Choose the right online course  
There are hundreds of online courses to choose from and distance learning provides far more options when it comes to qualifications. Choosing an online course can be a challenge, particularly when there are so many providers claiming to be the best in their niche. The course you choose will have a direct impact on your learning experience and overall academic performance. Enrolling in an online course is also a substantial investment that is likely to cost you hundreds if not thousands of dollars. With that in mind, you must do plenty of research and choose the right course for you. 

Ideally, the course you pick should be a stepping stone to your desired career. If you are hoping to become a registered family nurse, then you could choose to study a nursing degree program with Marymount University Online, for example. Read the course description carefully and make sure that it includes all the elements required for your chosen profession. For instance, nurses must complete a certain number of clinical placement hours before being able to apply for licensure. It is also important that you pick a reputable provider that offers quality resources and services to support your learning. Always check what the course provider offers to support distance learners. 

Establish a productive routine 
One of the key reasons people choose to study via distance learning is because it allows the freedom to choose your study schedule. You won’t be required to attend set classes and you can complete learning tasks at a pace and time that suits you. This is a major advantage of online learning, but it can also cause issues as you must be organized and driven to complete your learning activities without direction from a teacher. 

The most effective approach to online learning is to establish a productive routine as soon as you start your course. Ideally, this should involve studying at set times every day. Try to be proactive when it comes to deadlines and keep on top of your workload. Avoid leaving coursework or revision to the last minute or you risk putting unnecessary stress and pressure on yourself. 

For example, the University of Cincinnati recommends “treating studying like your job.” They add that, “you need to commit to your studies as seriously as you commit to your career.” Make studying from home more effective by creating a clear study plan and establishing a good routine. This will help you stay on top of your deadlines and avoid falling behind in your online classes. 

Design the perfect study space 
Where you complete your learning activities will have a major impact on how effective your study time is. Creating the ideal learning environment is all the more important when you are studying from home. You should try to create a distinct study area that is away from your living space. This will help you maintain a clear separation between your studying and personal time. 

Here are some tips to help you design the perfect study space at home

Choose one place to study and avoid working from different areas of your home. Your brain will start to recognize that this is a study environment. This will help you get into a learning mindset as soon as you enter the space.  
Invest in quality office furniture like a sturdy desk and a comfortable ergonomic office chair. You can easily save money by looking for second-hand items. 
Place your desk in an area with lots of natural light — i.e. next to a window. Research has found that natural light can enhance student performance and improve concentration, focus, and well-being. 
Add some fresh greenery to your study space with indoor plants. Plants improve indoor air quality and have dozens of health benefits including lowering stress. Choose a few low-maintenance houseplants to add to your study area such as aloe vera or bamboo. 

Plan regular study breaks 
Burnout can be a serious risk for students who are studying from home. Not having a set study schedule may mean that you’re tempted to cram all of your learning tasks into one or two days each week. However, doing this is likely to cause high levels of stress and may also affect your academic results. 

A more effective approach is to study little and often and incorporate some study time into each day. That way, your learning tasks will be divided into manageable sections and you are less likely to feel stressed or overwhelmed. You should also factor regular study breaks into your day. Top Universities advise that you should avoid studying for more than one hour without a break. Working for longer than this will result in poor concentration and you are likely to become tired and frustrated. 

Take regular, short breaks from your learning activities to rest and unwind. The number of study breaks you need will depend on various factors including the intensity of the learning task and how you are feeling on a particular day. Take this into consideration and plan your study breaks accordingly. 

Remove potential distractions
One of the hardest challenges of working from home is that your learning environment is likely to be full of distractions. Procrastinating and becoming distracted by things like televisions and social media will harm your learning ability and prevent you from studying effectively. For that reason, you should focus on removing any potential distractions from your study space. 

It is also a good idea to keep your mobile phone out of sight or switch it off while you’re studying. Family members or housemates can be another major source of distraction while you’re studying at home. Make anyone living with you aware when you are studying and politely ask them not to disturb you. If you are struggling to concentrate due to noise or other distractions, then consider moving your study space to another area of your home. You could also go to a local library or coffee shop if you are finding it difficult to study productively from home. 

Go outside once a day 
Studying from home can be draining and being cooped up in your house all day is not good for your physical or mental health. According to businessinsider.com, being outdoors can lower your blood pressure, fight depression, and boost memory and concentration. Getting outside at least once a day can therefore be an excellent way to make your study time more effective and improve your well-being. 

Go for a walk on your lunch break or meet up with a friend in a local park. Getting outside for just 30 minutes should improve your mood and help you fight any study-related stress. It is also a great way to increase your activity levels and stay fit when you are studying at home. 

Don’t be afraid to ask for help 
Studying at home is not easy and you shouldn’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help. Online course providers tend to offer lots in the way of support for distance learners. You should also connect with your peers online using digital platforms like social channels and instant messaging apps. 

Distance learning provides greater flexibility and allows you to study from anywhere and fit learning around your existing schedule. Online courses have also made it far easier for students to gain qualifications when they have commitments preventing them from attending campus-based classes. That said, getting into a productive study routine can be a serious challenge. You must have a clear study plan in place and work hard to stay motivated and avoid becoming distracted. Try some of the above suggestions to help you work effectively from home.