Categories
Career Colleges General Interest

A novel failure: 4 career lessons I learned from my literary flop

If you’re a distance learner who is thinking about being an entrepreneur after school, failure is going to be part of life. And that’s not a bad thing.

The upside to failure is that it can contain valuable lessons. Such was the case when, during grad school, I released a novel, only to have it be a critical and commercial failure. 

I’m not going to mention its name here since some of the reviews were far from flattering. But I will say that it was a fantasy/sci-fi novel that was over 100,000 words. 

Because of that flop, I learned a lot of valuable lessons as an entrepreneur, some of which are listed here. Whether you plan to start your own business or join someone else’s after college, I think these lessons may be useful to you. 

1. Your product isn’t for everyone

I told everyone about my book. It didn’t matter if they hated sci-fi, fantasy, or reading novels. I figured if they could read, it was for them. But it wasn’t. My novel was for a niche market, for folks who met these specific criteria:

  • They like reading fantasy/sci-fi novels
  • They don’t mind reading the work of an unknown author
  • They enjoy works that are not based on a franchise
  • They don’t mind spending $19 on a novel (my publisher set the price higher than I would have liked) 

I eventually came to realize that “people who can read” is not a realistic target market to focus on. And by focusing on marketing to everyone, I hardly reached anyone.

The fact is, pretty much everything on the market is not for everyone. As you probably know, distance learning isn’t for every high school graduate. People who advertise for distance learning programs are going to market to the folks who see the benefits of such a program. Because that’s who it’s for. And that’s who pays for distance learning.

2. Be wary of potential business partners

I didn’t go the traditional publishing route, meaning I put up some cash for the publisher to publish it, and they supposedly put up a lot more cash to edit, produce, and market the book. I say “supposedly” because, once I was already committed, I learned my editor was terrible. He actually introduced more grammatical and spelling errors than he fixed. I ended up editing and proofreading the whole thing myself. 

In my current business, my business partner is also one of my best friends, so I’m very confident that I’ve picked the right person to start a company with. 

If you can’t go into business with a great friend, at least make sure you have fully vetted them. Talk to people who know them. Look them up online to see if they are who they claim to be. The point is, whether you choose to start a business with someone else during or after your distance learning education, you need to pick the right partner. 

3. Live out your company values

My publisher was named Tate Publishing. They went out of business years ago because their leadership was shady, and they were getting sued to oblivion by all the authors they bamboozled. 

So, why did I go with them as my publisher? Among other reasons, they told me how they were a values-driven company. Nothing wrong with being values-driven, but you have to actually stick to the values for your company to work in the long run.

Unfortunately, Tate lied to their customers and underperformed at the work they were claiming to do. Deception and incompetence don’t make great values for a company to have.

If you set up a company and claim to have certain values, be true to those. You’re not perfect, but you can at least be honest and ethical.

4. Don’t rush the process

I was trying to get my novel out as soon as possible. I wanted to capitalize on having a book signing at my college while I was still a grad student. And I wanted to capitalize on the fact that I was still young enough for people to be impressed that I’d finished a novel. I also figured I should do it before I started my career. 

Looking back, I wish I’d listened to the warnings of an older mentor about doing business with Tate. I wish I’d paid more attention to the online criticisms leveled against the publisher. Had I taken the time to revise the book while waiting for a proper publisher to come along, perhaps it wouldn’t have flopped.

Wrapping up

Consider this quote from Winston Churchill: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

I hope you’ll finish your distance learning education strong and start strong with your career of choice. And if you ever plan to publish a book, be careful of the publisher you partner with.

Categories
Career Colleges General Interest

6 tips for becoming comfortable with giving speeches

Jerry Seinfeld famously said, “According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.”

Are you a distance learner who falls into the category of being terrified of giving speeches in class? If so, this blog post is for you.

Even though your education is remote, you’ll likely have to give at least one or two speeches at some point. More importantly, an estimated 70% of careers require having public speaking skills. To prepare for life during and after college, you should consider getting comfortable giving speeches. Let’s dive in!

1. Get experience giving speeches

Take opportunities where you can to get experience giving speeches. If you have a team project for school, offer to be the person who presents. And if you have the opportunity to get extra credit by giving a speech, jump on it. Be sure to practice any upcoming speeches at least once or twice before giving them.

Aside from school, you can go to Toastmasters, which is a good organization where you can get some practice giving speeches. Or if you’re in a wedding, give a speech at the rehearsal dinner (if appropriate). 

2. Film yourself giving a speech

Nowadays, many (if not most) distance learners have easy access to a camera. Recording a speech and watching it can help you spot issues like:

  • Saying “um” or “like” every five seconds
  • Constantly clearing your throat
  • Shifting uneasily in your chair
  • Scrunching up your brow for most of the speech

In this world of selfies and vlogs, you may already be super comfortable filming yourself talking. If you tend to get squeamish watching a recording of yourself, this will require you to push through your comfort zone. 

Bonus tip: For best results, set up the camera far enough away so you can see your arms and legs during the speech. This can help you spot if your body language looks off.

3. Wear shoes on your hands

Not sure what to do with your hands during a speech? My high school drama teacher taught us to wear shoes on our hands during rehearsal. The idea is that you’ll become more aware of what your hands are doing when you’re in front of people. 

So, practice that big speech for class by wearing shoes on your hands. Just remember to take them off before you give the speech in front of your fellow distance learners!

4. Socialize

It’s important to be comfortable hanging out with friends and meeting new folks if you ever hope to feel comfortable speaking in front of a class. As a distance learner, you have plenty of options for meeting new people (even without going to a traditional college), such as volunteering, joining a church, or joining a local sports league.

5. Take a deep breath

If you want to appear relaxed before giving a speech, practice deep breathing exercises.

I suggest using the 4-4-8 method: Inhale for four seconds, hold your breath for four seconds, and exhale for eight seconds. Deep breathing can have a calming effect that will help settle your nerves before speaking in front of your class.

6. Get enough sleep

It’s difficult to give a speech if you keep yawning throughout it. So, be sure to get enough quality sleep, so that you can be at your best when speaking. 

Shoot for seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Preparing for a big speech the night before won’t help you do this. You’ll want to be well rested and alert before your speech.

To get quality sleep, there are basic sleep hygiene tips you should practice, including:

  • Washing your sheets weekly
  • Sticking to a regular sleep/wake time (even on weekends)
  • Turning off your phone, laptop, or TV at least one hour before bedtime (I think e-book readers like Kindle or Nook are typically OK since they’re designed to look like paper)
  • Avoiding caffeine after 3pm

Wrapping up

You may never feel completely comfortable giving speeches, but you can certainly feel less anxious about them. So, take a deep breath, go to bed early, and make sure you practice. You’ll be surprised how much smoother your speech will go.

Categories
Career Colleges General Interest health

5 coffee alternatives to help distance learners get going in the morning

Waking up in the morning can be tough if you’re a distance learner. Between the projects, the papers, and the exams, you’ve got a lot of reasons why you may not be getting enough sleep. According to the Sleep Foundation, most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep each night. 

If you’re not getting this amount consistently, it’s no wonder you’re waking up groggy. 

You may have decided a long time ago that coffee was the answer. Maybe you’ve never reconsidered your choice.

But coffee (especially more than four cups of it) has its drawbacks.

For instance, coffee can make you jittery, promote insomnia, and increase your anxiety. It can also lead to addiction. Plus, if you go to a coffee shop every morning, the costs can quickly add up. And if you’re like most distance learners, you don’t have cash to burn.

There has to be another way you can become more alert so that you can focus on your classes.  

With that in mind, here are a few alternatives to consider, using an acronym, NOTES. 

Get it? Because distance learners take notes. Isn’t it clever? No? Oh well, let’s dive in!

1. Nuts (eat them)

Eating a handful of nuts can help you stay full throughout the day. Nuts contain the nutrients you need to stay alert. Walnuts and almonds in particular are loaded with Omega-3, which is good for your memory and your mood. 

Having a few on-hand near your workstation can help you focus for those early morning classes.

2. Outdoors (spend time there)

It’s amazing what a little fresh air can do to wake you up. The light of the sun alone helps you be more alert after sleeping. So, take a stroll around the block, do a little gardening, or briefly visit a nearby park.

3. Tea (drink it)

Green tea, black tea, and yerba mate tea can each be a good coffee alternative. Yes, green tea has caffeine, but its energy source comes from the amino acid L-theanine. This amino acid is good for your brain and helps you wake up. 

If you prefer kicking off a hard day of classes with a tasty beverage, give tea a try. You may find it gives you a similar, but different, buzz than coffee.

4. Exercise (do it)

A few jumping jacks, pushups, sit-ups, or just running in place can all help you get going before an extensive day of classes. 

Hint: Taking breaks to do brief, moderate exercise throughout your day can give you an excuse to step away from your schoolwork. And when you get back to work, your mind is likely to be clearer.

5. Songs (listen to upbeat music)

I’m not suggesting you blare your music first thing in the morning and wake up anyone around you. But listening to upbeat songs soon after waking up can help stimulate your brain. I recommend a bit of classic rock (like “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor).

Plenty of folks like doing homework listening to these kinds of songs in the background (I knew a few in college). But if music is more of a distraction for you, try listening to it for a few minutes before you start your work.

Bonus: Splash water in your face

This worked for me in college. You’ll want to dry just enough so you’re not dripping. It can be refreshing as your damp face dries. The effect won’t last long, but it will give your brain a much-needed jolt.

Wrapping up

Coffee has helped many-a-student face the rigors of academic discipline. Fortunately, it’s not the only option available in order to get a kick of energy before starting your classes. Just remember this acronym: NOTES, which stands for Nuts, Outside, Tea, Exercise, and Songs.

Categories
Career Colleges Family General Interest Online learning

7 ways distance learners can be independent despite living with their parents

Many distance learners live with their parents throughout the course of their college years. According to 2020 research from the Pew Research Center, 52% of 18- to 29-year olds live with their parents. 

But we all know the main danger of living too long with your parents: You can end up continually dependent on them. It’s called failure to launch.

The truth, however, is that just because you live with your parents doesn’t mean you can’t have some degree of independence. For instance, you can prepare for financial independence by saving money now for purchases later down the line, such as a down payment on a house. 

As a distance learner, you are responsible for developing into an independent adult as much as you’re responsible for attaining a degree. It’s hard work, but you can do it with some effort!

If you’re concerned about not being an independent adult once you get your degree, here are some tips on what you can do. You’ve likely done or are doing one or more of these, but I hope they’ll serve as general guidelines to follow towards your path of independence.

1. Clean up after yourself

In my experience, most folks don’t live alone once they move out of their parents’ home. Having a roommate is a cost-effective way to live when you’re finished with school. And your roommate (especially if this is your spouse) probably won’t appreciate having to clean up after you. 

So, if you haven’t already, get into the habit of cleaning up around your parent’s home. This starts by doing your own laundry, cleaning any dishes you use, and cleaning your room more than once a year. 

In short, just because you’re a distance learner doesn’t mean you need to live in squalor.

2. Open a bank account if you don’t have one

Even if you don’t have much money, consider opening a bank account (if you don’t already have one). Getting comfortable having your money in a bank, using a credit or debit card, and paying bills with your own account will prepare you for financial independence. 

Plus, if your distance learning courses involve finances, you’ll likely have a greater understanding of the material by virtue of having your own bank account.

3. Have your own social life

Independence doesn’t mean you don’t rely on people—you just don’t rely on your parents as much. Personally, I relied a lot on my friends after college. 

You don’t need to have a group of 20 friends you regularly see, but it’s wise to have at least one. Distance learning can be stressful and having one or more friends that you enjoy being around can help ease the pressure.

Volunteering or joining a city league sports team can put you in a position to make new friends. If your family normally attends church, try attending a church they don’t go to. 

Build your own social network, so you can learn how to interact with a variety of people before you finish your distance learning education.

4. Learn stuff you’re not required to learn 

As a distance learner, you’re probably reading a lot of books for school. Because of this, it can be tempting to avoid learning beyond your courses. But often, the best independent adults are lifelong learners. 

Pick a subject that you want to learn more about that you can explore outside of your courses. That could include pottery, woodworking, the ins-and-outs of baseball—whatever strikes your fancy. 

I think you’ll find learning can be a lot of fun, especially when you’re not being graded on what you know.

5. Do hard things

Stepping out of your comfort zone is one of the most difficult things independent adults must do, but it is absolutely mandatory. Yes, being a distance learner means you’re going to have to work hard in school. But doing hard things goes beyond that—it’s about embracing the tough tasks in life. 

Life will often give you more responsibilities and require more of you as you age. So, getting used to doing difficult tasks will help better prepare you for life as an independent adult.

6. Take care of your health

Speaking of doing hard things, it’s important you take care of your health. This means eating well, avoiding foods that are terrible for you, and exercising regularly. In addition to getting stronger, exercise strengthens your brain, so you can do better as a distance learner.

It’s not easy but getting in control of your health will help boost your confidence, which is good for all independent adults to have. 

7. Have an exit strategy

When do you plan to move out of your parents’ house? Is it after you finish your distance learning, or are you going to wait until your 40? Having an exit strategy bolsters your independence by giving you a goal to shoot for. It also, in effect, sets a timer for when you’re going to move out on your own. 

Wrapping up

Living with one or more of your parents doesn’t mean you can’t have a degree of independence. Simple daily activities—such as exercising, cleaning, and learning for fun—are all ways you can prepare for life after school. Practicing these tips won’t necessarily be easy, but they will help you develop into an independent, mature adult.

Categories
Career Colleges Exams General Interest Online learning

For distance learners: 7 ways to reduce test anxiety

College exams can be stressful, especially if you’re a freshman distance learner. Take open-book exams, for example. The first time I ever had an open-book test was in college. I thought, “Great! I’ll have all the answers available to me, so it shouldn’t be too hard.” Boy, was I wrong.

In fact, I came to dread open-book exams because the questions seemed a lot tougher and more extensive than multiple-choice tests. 

That’s not to say multiple-choice exams don’t have their own stressors. In my experience multiple choice exams tend to have four potential answers: Two that are clearly wrong and two that could be correct. Choosing one of these two options can create a lot of stress.

You may be one of many distance learners who tend to have test anxiety. And there’s nothing wrong with having that. Recognizing that the anxiety is there is nothing to be ashamed about. But there are ways to reduce your anxiety, as I’ll discuss in this post. 

Let’s jump in!

1. Take a deep breath

You may want to practice breathing exercises such as 4-7-8 breathing. With this exercise, you exhale through your mouth before inhaling through your nose for a count of four. You then hold your breath and count to seven. Finally, you exhale out your mouth for a count of eight. 

When you’re sitting at home in front of your computer, and you’re about to take a test, I recommend practicing this exercise. Personally, I’ve found breathing exercises like this one help me calm down when I’m feeling anxious. 

2. Change negative thoughts

If you tell yourself that you’re not smart and you won’t be able to do well on a test, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Consider changing these negative thoughts into something positive. 

Remind yourself that you were smart enough to become a distance learning college student, so you’re smart enough to do well on this test. Beating yourself up before a big exam won’t help you do better. Be kind to yourself.

3. Watch what you eat and drink

Foods like salmon, tuna, blueberries, and dark chocolate can help boost blood flow, delivering healthy nutrients to your brain. This can help you think better, so you can have more confidence come exam time. You may also want to explore other brain-boosting foods, such as spinach and oranges.  

As far as drinking is concerned, you should limit your caffeine intake as this can make you feel more stressed than you actually are. As a distance learner, you likely have a coffee machine nearby. Try to resist the temptation to make an extra cup of coffee.

You’ll also want to keep hydrated, which helps your brain function in tip-top condition. Keeping a water bottle near your home workstation can be a good reminder to drink water throughout the day.

4. Get on your feet

Exercise can relieve stress by pumping your body full of endorphins, which are feel-good neurotransmitters your brain produces. 

Aim for at least 150 minutes of aerobic exercise a week. If you’re having trouble doing this, start off by exercising less and slowly increasing your frequency.

As a distance learner, you may not be walking as much as the average on-campus student who must constantly go to different buildings throughout the day. That’s why, as a distance learner, it’s especially important for you to keep exercise in mind.

You could treat this like any other class project. Create a plan, find a partner to exercise with you, and stick with it. 

5. Go outside

Another way to get some exercise is by reconnecting with Mother Nature and getting outside! Not having to traverse a college campus means you’ll have to be intentional with your outdoor time. 

Vitamin D has been shown to reduce stress, so it’s a great excuse to take a walk and soak up some sun before that big exam.  

6. Take breaks throughout your day

Ideally, you’ll begin studying for an exam a week or more before it. This will give you more freedom to take breaks from your studies. Doing so helps your mind take a break from any stress you may be experiencing.

This can be as simple as cooking a meal or reading a comic book.

As a distance learner, you’re constantly looking at your computer. Because of this, I recommend taking a break from screens altogether.

Taking a mental break from your studies — especially before bedtime — will help you relax and sleep better. 

7. Get enough sleep the night before your test

Adequate sleep reduces stress and helps restore your mind, so you can concentrate and solve problems. I recommend reading something light before bedtime. So, put down your textbook and pick up a novel or a nonfiction book that helps take your mind off of your upcoming test. 
According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults typically need at least seven to nine hours of sleep. Being a distance learner can be really beneficial when it comes to sleep. After all, you won’t have to deal with a noisy dorm that can keep you awake.

Categories
Career Colleges General Interest Online learning

You don’t need a traditional college campus to find a spouse

“We met in college.” 

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard married couples say that. 

And while it’s true that many people meet their future spouse on a college campus, not everyone does. 

In fact, college campuses are far from the only places to meet a mate. As a distance learner, you may be unaware of all the options you have for meeting that special someone. 

In this post, I’ll talk about five ways distance learners can meet new friends of the opposite sex. 

I say “friends” because the best spouses tend to start off as best friends. The romance blossoms from that friendship. So, the goal here should be focused on making new friends. You can stop a relationship before it starts if you’re only viewing someone as a potential spouse. 

Let’s check out some ways you can kickstart your social life, which may (hopefully) lead to new friends and a spouse.

1. Get involved in a church

I don’t recommend joining a church for the sole purpose of finding a spouse. You should like the teaching and mission of the church before you commit to it. 

But if you want to make friends from your church, you may want to consider serving or joining a co-ed small group. Doing so will introduce you to people, one of whom may end up being your life partner.

2. Volunteer

Like joining a church, meeting people shouldn’t be the only reason you’re volunteering. So, pick a nonprofit organization you really admire and volunteer on a regular basis. 

Other people who volunteer there will likely share at least some of your beliefs and values, so it can be a great way to meet new people of the opposite sex.

3. Using one or more dating apps

As a distance learner, you’re likely pretty technically savvy. Fortunately, there are a ton of dating apps out there. Three that I used were Hinge, Coffee Meets Bagel, and eHarmony

I like these three because there is only so much you can do on them before you start seeing the same people pop up. This is different from Match and OKCupid, both of which you could easily waste hours and hours on searching for someone to date. 

4. Get people together

If you’re practicing distance learning in an area where you have lived for years, you may already have friends. But do you know their friends?

Meeting the friends of your existing friend group is a great way to expand your social network.

Host a party or game night. Invite a group of people to a restaurant or a park. The point is to get around people you haven’t met, so encourage your friends to bring some of their friends whom you may not know. 

A lot of people find their spouses by meeting their friends’ friends, so this might be a good strategy to take.

I have several friends who met their spouses this way. They didn’t all start off attracted to one another, but as their friendship with one another grew, they developed that romantic connection. 

5. Join a Meetup group for folks with similar interests

If you enjoy playing board games, there’s probably a Meetup group for that in your area. Love to play soccer? There’s likely a group near you for that, too. Most of these groups are co-ed, so trying out one or two may be a good idea.

6. Exercise

As a distance learner, you should exercise regularly to help you think better and live a healthier life. If staying active is important to you, you’re probably looking for someone who is active, too. Joining a CrossFit gym or enrolling in an exercise class at the local YMCA are both places where you can meet someone like this. 

If gyms aren’t your thing, you may want to consider another form of exercise: dancing. It’s likely there’s a place for swing dancing or salsa dancing near you. A lot of times, these dancing events occur regularly, so you’re likely to make new friends if you stick with it.

Wrapping up

When I was a senior on a college campus, I remember thinking, “This is my last year to find a wife.” I’m so glad I was wrong. It took a few years and a great deal of perseverance, but eventually, I found my wife through a dating app (Coffee Meets Bagel). 

As a college student, I wouldn’t have expected to meet her that way, but I’ve learned that there are multiple ways to meet the love of your life. And as you can see, none of the ways I provided require a college campus, which is good news for distance learners looking for love.

Categories
Apprenticeship Career Colleges COVID-19 Family General Interest Online learning

For distance learners: 6 superfoods (and 1 liquid) that will kickstart your brain

As a distance learner, your life is likely busy. Classes, homework, and life in general can make it difficult to eat healthy. It can be tempting to just grab fast food instead of asserting the effort to make a home-cooked meal. 

While many folks discovered the joy of cooking healthier food during the lockdowns of the COVID-19 pandemic, others may still feel uneasy about cooking.

In this blog post, we’ll share a handful of healthy foods to help kickstart (and sustain) your learning. Fortunately, many of the brain-boosting foods we’ll discuss can be eaten right on their own. So even if you don’t have time to cook between meals (especially when facing a big exam), there are some superfoods you can eat while on-the-go.

Let’s dive in!

Dark chocolate

When you go to your online class, make sure a handful of dark chocolates are nearby. The dark chocolate’s cocoa is loaded with flavonoids that help increase the blood flow to your brain and improve brain function. In fact, cocoa has the highest flavonoid content by weight out of any other food. 

With this jump to your brain, you’ll likely be better at solving problems, paying attention, and remembering facts that will be on the next test. And when test-time comes, you may want to eat a few beforehand to help you perform at the top of your game.

Nuts

Nuts such as almonds are packed with vitamins and protein that can help you concentrate when studying for that big exam. In addition, walnuts can improve your memory due to the antioxidants that fight against cognitive decline. 

I’ve found that nuts help me stay full longer than other snack foods like potato chips or cookies, which is good for learning.

Having a belly that isn’t rumbling can allow you to focus on your homework and help you work for longer stretches at a time. 

Dark leafy green vegetables

A 2018 report in the journal Neurology states that eating a serving of green leafy vegetables a day can help prevent cognitive decline. If you’re not an older person, the brain benefits are still there. The nutrients found in these veggies, such Vitamins A, C, and K, can help boost your brain functions. 

The following are some examples of this superfood:

  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Swiss chard
  • Collard greens
  • Turnip greens

You could go all-in and make a spinach, kale, chard, collard, and turnip casserole or shake. It might not taste great, but your brain will appreciate it.

Wild salmon

This fatty fish is a fantastic source of Omega-2 oil DHA, which can improve your memory and focus. It also includes Vitamins A and D, both of which can help boost brain function. 

If you have a long night of studying ahead of you, you may want to cook up some salmon to kickstart your brain. The protein should help you stay full enough for the length of the test, which means you’ll be less distracted.

Berries

The antioxidants in berries help protect the cells in your brain. Berries can also assist in improving your thinking and motor skills. They also can prevent inflammation in the brain.

It may be a good idea to keep berries in your fridge. They are a healthy alternative to other sweet or sour snacks you could choose. 

Here are a few common berries you can likely find in your local grocery store:

  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Cranberries
  • Blackberries

Citrus Fruits

The polyphenols in citrus fruits have anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties that can help keep your brain safe from harm. These polyphenols also help your brain function better. 

Some common citrus fruits include:

  • Oranges
  • Tangerines
  • Grapefruit
  • Lemons
  • Key limes

Consider adding an orange or grapefruit to your meal. Doing so could provide some solid cognitive benefits.

Water

Dehydration isn’t great for mental fatigue, and it contributes to the premature aging of your brain. A lack of water can also affect your memory, making it more difficult to retain information.

I’ve discovered that if I don’t drink enough, I’ll get headaches. And since pain and learning don’t mix well, it’s best to drink plenty of water. 

So how much water should you be drinking each day? While the research on this varies, men should stick with three liters (13 cups) and women should drink a little over two liters (9 cups).

If you don’t have a refillable water bottle, I recommend getting one. Just like you need water before or after exercising, you need water when you learn and problem-solve. 

Wrapping up

There are plenty of foods you can eat to keep your brain in tip-top condition. Don’t forget to stay hydrated and remember to be conscious of what you eat, since doing so can help you in school. Your brain is what’s going to get you that degree, so take care of it by eating right.

Categories
Career Colleges COVID-19 Dual Enrollment Family Finances General Interest Online learning

8 great benefits of distance learning

Is distance learning right for you?

This is something you may have said (or thought) if you’re considering a college. At The Distance Learner, we obviously think distance learning can be a good idea for a lot of students. 

Why? Here are eight benefits we think you’ll like.

1. It typically costs less

Did you know that distance learning is often less expensive than in-classroom learning? This makes sense, since you’re not paying for the upkeep of classroom buildings or maintenance fees for keeping the college looking spick and span.

So save some money where you can. Life typically only gets more expensive.

2. It requires no driving

Speaking of saving, distance learning cuts back on travel costs. If you have a car, you’ll save money on gas, oil, and general wear-and-tear. If you don’t have a car, you’ll save on your bus fare (or at least not have to worry about getting a ride from someone else).

Also, there’s the whole “no-traffic” thing. So if you’re a big fan of sitting in traffic, distance learning may not be for you!

3. It’s flexible

The benefits of a flexible learning schedule rely on knowing what time(s) of day you think best. So say you’d rather have your mornings off to go for a jog or you’d rather take a break in the afternoon to play a video game. Distance learning gives you the flexibility to do this.

4. It’s great if you have a job

This flexibility is especially useful if you have a job. Whether you’re working part-time or full-time, distance learning lets you do the work when you can. You are not beholden to the class schedules of in-classroom learning. So if you want to get some work experience while you’re in school, distance learning may be the route to take.

5. It allows you to learn at your own pace

If you’re like me, you need only a little bit of time for studying English and history courses, but you need an exorbitant amount of time for studying math courses. With remote learning, you can learn at your own pace. This gives you greater control over your education.

6. It allows you to learn just about anywhere

Want to view lectures at your momma’s house as you wait for a delicious, home-cooked meal? You’ll likely be able to do this, provided she has decent Internet service.

Maybe you prefer going to class out in your yard where your home’s Wi-Fi is still good enough to watch lectures. This is possible through the magic of distance learning. 

7. It can help you get better at time-management skills

Learning how to manage your time is especially important for folks who are used to having someone else dictate their schedule, like their high school or parents. But time-management skills are a necessary part of any professional’s life, and the flexibility and self-paced nature of distance learning can help you hone these skills. 

For instance, employers are increasingly allowing their teams to set their own working hours. Since you have been setting your own schedule via distance learning, you should have no problem with doing this. 

8. It prepares you for remote employment

In the age of COVID-19, more and more businesses are going remote (or at least partially remote). Remote work is a trend that likely won’t go away when the pandemic ends. This is where distance learning plays a key role: It gets you used to the idea of working remotely.  

That means you are:

  • Learning how to be comfortable with working online
  • Learning how to collaborate with classmates
  • Learning how formal email etiquette works

These are all skills that are useful for working in a remote position.

Categories
Career Colleges COVID-19 General Interest

7 tips for transitioning from in-classroom learning to distance learning

Distance learning has become increasingly popular in the past decade—especially for college students—and that trend has caught even more momentum in the age of COVID-19. But if you’re preparing to switch from learning inside a classroom to learning online, the change can be a little jolting. 

For one thing, you’re not interacting with people in-person. Human beings were not made to socialize via screens. So while using screens to communicate is better than nothing, screens and Wi-Fi will never be as effective as in-person communication.

It can also be tough to adjust to distance learning after getting used to someone else playing a big role in your schedule. Now, class times and professors will likely not dictate your schedule—you will. And where are you supposed to view lectures if you’re not in a classroom? These are all things you’ll have to address when you transition to distance learning.

Fortunately, there are ways to mitigate any issues that might come from the change.

1. Stick to a schedule

Having a general schedule will provide some structure and stability to your day, which can help you focus. It doesn’t have to be incredibly rigid, but you will likely want to have something in place so that you know you can get everything done.

Here are some tips:

  • Have regular sleep/wake times
  • Set aside time to view lectures and take notes
  • Set aside time to do your homework/study
  • Have a set lunch period in your day
  • Have a general cutoff date to each day, though this will likely need to be adjusted depending on your workload
  • Set aside time for rest and relaxation so that you can mentally prepare for the next day

2. Be willing to be flexible

While it’s good to stick to a structured schedule, it’s also helpful to be flexible. For instance, if you need to spend more time on one class than another or you want to take a longer lunch with a friend, be willing to do that. The beauty of distance learning is that it allows for the flexibility that traditional classrooms do not.

3. Set aside a space just for learning

By setting aside a space that you only use for schoolwork, you can make it somewhere your mind associates with learning. This can help you think clearly and focus on what you’re doing when you’re in that space. If you have a small home, you may want to have a certain chair that you only sit in when doing schoolwork.

If you can’t be at home, consider going to a local library, coffee shop, or even a park (if you can get Wi-Fi out there). Again, the point is to have a place where learning can occur effectively.

4. Get organized

Once you have established your learning space, it’s time to get organized. Note-taking is an art of sorts, and organization is the key to making it beautiful (and useful). 

Sites like Trello allow you to make to-do lists that you can use for every class. Of course, you can go with traditional organizing tools such as Microsoft Excel, but Google offers a free alternative in Google Sheets.

5. Get outside

Vitamin D can be great for lifting a person’s spirits. And by going for a walk or doing any other form of exercise, you’ll get your heart pumping and your blood flowing. This can reinvigorate your body so that you can learn better. 

Side note: Be sure to wear sunscreen if you think you might get sunburned. Having to rub aloe on your sunburnt nose will likely distract you from learning.

6. Take mental breaks

Even if you don’t go outside, you should still take mental breaks throughout the day. Often stepping away from the thing you are working on will allow you to more effectively tackle it once you get back to it. That can include doing something mindless (like watching a sitcom on TV) to working on your favorite hobby (like building ceramic penguins).

7. Socialize with people in person

There’s a lot of social interaction that happens with in-person learning, which can teach you valuable social skills like teamwork and listening. Setting aside time during the week to socialize is especially important for extroverts who love the face-to-face interactions that come from being in a classroom.

Even if you’re someone who generally prefers being alone, consider getting out with family or friends each week. If you’ve been wanting to try out a new restaurant with your friends, you can use the excuse that going out is helping you refine your social skills and acclimate to distance learning.

Categories
Career Colleges General Interest Online learning

The best tech tools to make distance learning in college work better

There has never been a better time to attend college exclusively online than right now. A big reason is because of all the amazing technology available to make the journey easier. And all of that tech has never been cheaper or more accessible.

To help out, in this blog post we’ll explore the best tech tools—both software and hardware—to ensure you’re successful.

1. Google Docs

This one depends on how your college handles assignments, but if you’re looking for an easy way to handle word processing that also happens to be free, you can’t beat Google Docs. This online suite gives you options that closely resemble Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. It offers the chance for real-time collaboration between students and teachers.

2. Tools for managing assignments: Trello or Asana

We know that distance learning students tend to be much better than their peers at self-directed learning. A way to help out with that is keeping on track and on task with a project management app. Here are two to consider:

  • Trello offers an excellent way to visually represent various buckets of assignments and schoolwork and move them from “in progress” to “review” to “complete.” This is the project management app I personally use for my business. With Trello, you can create individual cards that represent assignments and then move them between “stacks” showing progress and momentum. The app also makes it easy to add attachments or make comments. As a parent, you can also access your student’s Trello board to monitor progress.
  • Asana is similar to Trello except that it offers more customization and detail on individual tasks. Another big difference is in the visuals: If your high school student works better with a “check list” type format, then Asana is ideal. If he or she prefers a more visual approach, Trello is the ticket. The bottom line: If you want to go more granular, Asana can be a great tool. But if you want to keep it simple, go with Trello. For most high school students, Trello will be more than sufficient.

3. A time-tracking app

There are so many great time tracking apps out there. One app that combines some fun with helping you stay on track is Forest. When you commit time to a task, you plant a tree and watch it gradually grow. If you get off task, the tree dies. RescueTime is another option. This one is perfect to not only track your time, but to block out distractions (like social media).

4. A laptop

As a tech tool, a laptop is close to indispensable for high school students because they will inevitably use them during the next step in college or other vocational training. A laptop doesn’t have to break the bank, either: Chromebooks can easily be found for under $300 (some of them $200) and offer much of what’s needed to aid a college education.

Why not get a desktop? While they’re cheaper, in the long run a laptop will serve you better and prepare you for life after college. Plus, you always have the option of connecting a laptop to an external LCD and keyboard to mirror a desktop experience. (See point 5 below.)

5. Tablet

This could be an Apple iPad, an Android tablet, or even a Kindle or Nook e-reader for books. A tablet could actually be a decent replacement for a laptop. For example, if you want an Apple device but can’t stomach the $1,000 entry-level price for a MacBook Air, you can combine an iPad with a smart keyboard for around $450.

6. Headphones

They must have a built-in microphone. A bonus is if they are noise cancelling, especially if you have a larger family.

7. External monitor

Having a portable device like a laptop, tablet, or smartphone has its perks, but screen real estate is not one of them! That’s why it can be beneficial to have an external monitor on hand where you can hook up your portable devices to enjoy a bigger screen.

8. High-quality webcam

Whether it’s Zoom, Skype, or one of the many other apps out there, video conferencing has become a way of life in 2020 and 2021. To make the most of it as a remote learner, you need a high-quality webcam. Most laptops come with built-in cameras, but it’s with investing an extra $50 in a higher resolution camera. Here is the model I recently bought off Amazon.