If you’re considering going back into education, you’re no doubt weighing up the feasibility of fitting your learning around your life. Many would-be students already have to contend with juggling work and home life, without adding in studies too. This raises the question of how many hours a day are needed to commit to an online course?
This isn’t helped by the belief that good grades are only achieved through endless hours of study. But the truth is, the time spent studying doesn’t automatically correlate with a good grade.
You certainly need to study and be disciplined to do so, but the required study time differs for everyone. We all learn better in different ways and flourish at different things. What you need to do is learn more about the way you learn best. So you can make the most efficient use of your free time.
You also need to remember you’re not alone in this. Thousands of students in similar situations to you achieve their learning goals every year. Nothing is stopping you from doing the same.
Read on for our tips on how to best manage your time to get the most out of your course.
The number of hours you should study
You’ve probably come across online articles telling you the formula you need to follow for success with your learning. This includes the hours you need to study in addition, correlated to those spent working through your online course materials.
The general belief is 1 hour on course materials equates to 2-3 additional hours of study. When you look at the guided learning hours for some courses, that would quickly mount up.
For many, it’s just not realistic to commit that much time. Plus, what one person achieves in a set amount of time can be completely different to someone else.
The take away from this is there just isn’t a magic number. You need to find how many hours a day, or week, works for you. Don’t let the myth put you off becoming a student and achieving your learning goals.
Find what works for you
To find the amount of study time that works for you, you first need to be realistic about the time you have. Your prior commitments will dictate this, but you can work around them.
Whether you’re working 9-5, doing shifts or caring for your children, map out your schedule. Include any personal holidays and social events you plan to attend, that way, you can see clearly when you’re unavailable.
This will give you an idea if studying your chosen course is practically possible. Most online courses list their guided learning hours and/or total learning hours. So you know what to allow for ahead of enrolling. With this information, you can see how long it will take to complete. Breaking down those hours against the end date of the course and allocating the study sessions for when you’re available.
In most cases, you have up to two years to complete an online course. Giving you plenty of time to work with when it comes to planning your workload.
This can help take the pressure off if you’re in no hurry to qualify. But if you’re working towards a deadline like applying to university, you’ll probably need to commit more time to study. But be aware, rushing and cramming to qualify in a shorter space of time can pile on the pressure and result in a poor grade. So try to give yourself enough time to do it justice.
The flexibility of online learning does allow you to complete your course as quickly as you like. But this should never come at a cost to your health, mental wellbeing, family or job security.
Identify your study style
Explore the many study styles that are out there to find the one that best works for you. Different study methods and activities will help you learn better than others. This can help you take in new knowledge faster and enjoy your learning experience more.
It’s worth researching this ahead of time as this can save you lots of time when your course begins.
Take some time to reflect and consider how you learn best. You may be a visual learner, so watching videos about your course topic could be beneficial for you. Or you might prefer to listen to an audiobook on the subject. Whatever your preference you will be able to find learning materials to suit.
Another idea would be writing a list of the topics covered in your course and compiling a factsheet on them. You can then search online for subject relevant flashcards, puzzles and quizzes to complete.
Remember, it’s your learning experience, so use whatever works for you and makes it more enjoyable.
Getting a plan together ahead of your course is beneficial in so many ways. Aside from making the workload less overwhelming, you’re more likely to study when there’s a set time to do so.
Create a plan and set goals ahead of each study session. This will enable you to set out what you want to achieve in each one. Saving you precious time when the study session comes around as you can get started right away. Removing any panic and procrastination as you’ll know exactly where to focus your energy.
Just make sure you take breaks regularly too as these can help you process what you’ve learnt. They can also reduce stress and fatigue which helps you stay focused on the task at hand. Longer sessions may seem to be the more productive option, but you won’t take anything in if you’re overtired.
Study Your Way with Online Courses
If you need to study but you’re concerned about the time commitment, consider taking an online course. Distance education is the most flexible way to learn as you study at a time and place that works for you.
Work through the online materials and complete your study sessions at any time of the day or night. Allowing you to organise your education easily around your lifestyle.
You also have more choice when it comes to studying with distance learning providers. As the fewer expenses involved in delivering courses means they can provide a broader range. So you can study the exact course that meets your needs and interests and get the most out of your education.
There are also flexible payment methods available, as well as online tutor support, should you need assistance with your learning.
learndirect is the leading UK distance learning provider. With many online courses available to help you achieve your learning goals.
Find out more about studying online and how to get the most out of distance learning in our blog.
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