Making the choice of becoming a distance learner is the easier bit. It is the dedication required afterwards that can be difficult. Based upon my own experiences as a distance learner, I can say that it can be done and here are some tips that helped me complete my course successfully.
1. Research your choice of courses and the background of the distance learning centre you plan to enrol with. Find out their success rates and how much interaction they have with their distance learning students. Call or email them to obtain information on the topics that will be covered, the duration of the course and the cost of the entire course. Compare the prices with other centres to ensure you are getting the most competitive price.
Once you are satisfied that the subject interests you and you want to learn more about it, take the next step and enrol for it. Enrolling can be done either online or by post and payment can be done via credit card or by a cheque. If you are unemployed, there are some centres who will consider fee instalments to make it easier for you financially.
2. Your course material will arrive in the post within a week or two. It is best to check everything you have received and note when course work has to be posted back to the centre. You will be assigned your own tutor who can be emailed or telephoned during the time the centre is open with any queries you might have. It is advisable to call the tutor and introduce yourself and inform him that you have received your coursework. Most tutors are very easy to talk to and extremely helpful. Their main aim is to help you succeed.
3. Plan the weeks and months ahead so that you are up to date with course work and any homework that needs to be sent off for marking. Allocate yourself study time that suits your personal circumstances and during that time pretend that you are at college and do not let yourself be disturbed or distracted. Dedicating a quiet room to yourself which has a desk and a computer will prepare you psychologically for your allocated study time.
4. Have mini breaks to break the monotony and to help the mind to concentrate. Studying and understanding small chunks of material at a time while making notes is quite a helpful way to grasp the subject. If you have young children it is best to have a friend or family member to supervise them so that you can concentrate better. If this is impossible then try and study at a time when they are asleep.
5. Keep a list of questions that arise as you go through the subject matter. Either email your tutor with these questions or call him and make notes as he explains the answers to you in detail. Emailing is a better and cheaper option and you can get detailed information which you can read at your own pace and as often as you like until you grasp the topic.
6. Remember to grasp the basics as these will help you understand more complicated aspects of the subject when you go deeper into it. Do not forget to read any recommended reading materials as they will help you towards a better understanding of the subject that you are studying.
7. Distance learning is a lonely battle and remember that at times it will not be easy despite the help that you get from tutors. You will not have friends or people around you to share concerns with or discuss things with as you would in a college or a school. This is when you have to talk to your tutor and discuss any issues that you are facing so that they can help you through them and help you overcome these hurdles.
8. Remind yourself of your goal and what you hope to achieve with this course and that thought should keep you focused and motivated. In addition, each course work that you complete successfully will take you one step further towards this goal. Have your goals written out for you and read them often as constant reminders.
9. Talk about your course with friends and family so that their encouragement spurs you on to complete the course successfully. They will help to motivate you at times when you feel like giving it all up and do not hesitate to use this support system as often as you need to.
10. If you are facing an examination at the end of the course make sure you study for it over a period of time rather than leaving it all at the last minute. This can cause stress and distress and will not help your exam nerves at all. It is better to be prepared, stay calm and do the best you can. Most distance learning centres give their students a chance to re sit their examinations free of charge is they do not pass the first time.
The main qualities that will help you make a success of your distance learning course are determination, dedication, motivation and a desire to succeed in it. The thing to remember is that you are learning at your own pace with no pressure from anyone and in the comfort of your own home environment. These factors should help you to complete your course successfully so that at the end of it you feel proud of your achievement and in your abilities to self study.