What to do if you Fall behind in Distance Learning Coursework

One of the biggest appeals to the concept of distance learning can also be one of its major drawbacks.  Distance learning gives you the freedom to study remotely at your own pace, when and where you choose.  You don’t undertake your study experience within the traditional confines of a brick and mortar classroom with a teacher standing in front of the class dictating your every move.  This same freedom can get you in a lot of trouble if you fall behind in your coursework. 

Because your course instructor is not right there to oversee your every move and direct your course of study, it is quite likely that your gradual descent towards failure could go unnoticed until it’s too late.  For that reason you must be proactive in your approach to your studies.  If a concept seems too difficult for you to grasp within the recommended time period allocated on the course syllabus, you must contact your instructor immediately.  Don’t waste valuable time wrestling with a topic you don’t understand.  Seek help in the form of additional instruction from your course instructor and ask your instructor to recommend a tutor to provide that extra boost you need.

If some unforeseen tragedy strikes during your course of study, don’t simply set aside your studies for a week or more expecting to catch up later when the crisis has passed.  Once again, alert your course instructor as to the circumstances of your life that may cause you to fall behind.  Perhaps dropping out of a course and registering again at a future date might be the most practical option, but you won’t know until you talk with the instructor. 

Not all setbacks are quite this serious, however.  Perhaps you notice yourself slowly losing ground in your coursework and you realize you have only yourself to blame.  Are you setting aside enough time for your readings and your assignments?  Are you taking the online quizzes and exams according to schedule?  Good time management skills are extremely critical to the distance learning student.  After all, one of the reasons you are taking distance learning classes is because you like the idea of being able to set your own schedule and work at your own pace.  It is essential that you set that pace early on and adhere to a strict schedule if you want to accomplish your educational goals.

Distance learning can be a very effective learning method if the student gives the coursework the proper attention and respect it deserves.  Freedom from attending traditional classes does not mean freedom from traditional study habits.  Distance learning courses are fast paced and exciting.  Determining your study schedule, and sticking with it, is essential to your success.  Equally as important is regular communication with the course instructor, even when there isn’t a problem.  The more your instructor gets to know you, the better able they will be to see issues and problems before they arise.