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Time Management

The most significant factor causing students to succeed - or not - in a Distance Learning class is their ability to manage time. The more successful Distance Learning students report regularly spending 2 to 3 hours each week for each hour of class credit. A 2 unit credit class, for example, requires a minimum of 4 to 6 hours of work EACH WEEK of the semester to complete all requirements.

Without class lectures to spur that quick burst of activity to complete the project or study for a test, some Distance Learning students procrastinate throughout the semester - only to find themselves hopelessly far behind. The following information was developed by former students who have successfully completed Distance Learning courses: Work out your typical weekly schedule - on paper - so that you will have a general guide for fitting your study time into your activities.

Here is a typical plan for scheduling:

Set up a grid with 1/2 hour times on the left side of the page, from waking to closing down for the night, and all 7 days of the week across the top.
Fill in your non-flexible times (work hours, scheduled classes, etc) with specific information.
Fill in your flexible times related to those non-flexible ones (travel time to work or school, lunch, break, etc).
Fill in your other activities - clubs, choir, meetings, etc - which happen less than once a week.
List special must-do tasks for family, etc., e.g. pick up the kids from school, that occur regularly. Consider taking a course book along to accomplish study needs at the same time.
List DEDICATED TO STUDY TIME. This will be time that you will reserve for study; nothing less than a major emergency will be allowed to disturb it. One student suggested that this be set in 1/2 hour segments -1 segment per credit hour - and before or after this segment a 1/2 hour or hour TRY TO STUDY TIME be scheduled.
List TRY TO STUDY TIME. This will be time that you are planning nothing but study, but recognize that it may be interrupted. If interrupted, remember to grab some catch-up time.
Use a semester calendar to lay out your deadlines. If your instructor did not provide specific deadlines, set your own and meet them.
Arrive a bit early to work and use that 20 minutes for study.
Have your lunch hour with the textbook and syllabus away from the "gang".
Review the syllabus, study guide, or notes while waiting for the kids at the dentist, dance lesson, etc.
Find a corner at school to work on a project between, before, or after other classes.
Get up a half hour before the kids and use that time for important, difficult, or new material.
Work solidly for 1/2 hour, keeping to that 1/2 hour limit as a reasonable stopping point. Using a timer with a bell or tone alarm can be very useful and productive; you don't have to guess or clock watch and can concentrate totally on the work.
Do not puzzle for days on a problem. Get with a fellow student in the class or with the instructor for help early.
Lay aside a problem piece of work and go back with a fresh look later. However, if that does not work after a second try, get help.