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Career Colleges General Interest Online learning

10 of the worst things to include in New Year resolutions

Congratulations for completing (or nearly completing) another semester!

To help you usher in a new year of academics, I present to you this tongue-in-cheek post. In it, I’d like to share with you the worst New Year’s resolutions that I can think of for a distance learner. 

So, if you want to know what bad advice for distance learners looks like, this post is for you!   

Are you ready for an unproductive and miserable 2022? Let’s jump in the mire!  

1. Beat yourself up for making mistakes

Here’s some bad advice: Berate yourself and mentally bash yourself for making any mistakes. For instance, did you answer a question on a test only to realize that you answered incorrectly hours later? Don’t let that fly. Make yourself feel horrible for being a flawed human being.

2. Let your ego reign supreme

If your professor disagrees with one of your opinions, be sure to take it as a personal affront to your character. Argue with that professor until they kick you out of the class. Then be sure to email that professor, letting him or her know how stupid they were for not agreeing with you.

3. Never ask for help or advice

You’re not doing your ego any favors by asking for help or advice from professors, students, or counselors. Remember, every person is an island, so do everything on your own. Asking for help under any circumstance makes you look weak.

4. Embrace all nighters

Why work ahead when you can stay up all night a few times a month? Cramming makes for the best learning! Don’t be like those nerds who prepare well in advance for a paper, project, or test. Just knock it out at the last minute, so you can spend as much time procrastinating as possible. Your grades will suffer, but that’s a small price to pay for not being a nerd.

5. Don’t get enough sleep

Sure, sleep helps improve your brain, and experts recommend getting at least seven hours each night. But if you’re sleeping, you aren’t studying or doing homework. Try to sleep as little as possible.

6. Put your identity in your grades

If you’re an overachiever who wants bad advice specifically aimed at you, then be sure to put your identity in your grades. Getting the right grades means more than your character, relationships, spirituality, or interests—grades are the chief defining factor of who you are as a person. Remember, “B” is for “Bad.” As in, you’re a bad human being if you ever get a B or below. 

7. Avoid creating lists

Do you have a lot of schoolwork to do? Keep track of it all in your head. Only nerds write lists of tasks they need in order to perform well in a class. You may forget to do several necessary tasks, but at least you won’t be a nerd with a list.

8. Shoot for doing the bare minimum

Do not “shoot for the stars.” Just do what you need to do to pass your classes. Otherwise, you’ll have to put in more work, which leaves less time to binge-watch shows. Ugh. 

9. Skip classes

Sure, you’re paying for each class, but they are so boring! Play some virtual hooky by avoiding every class you can. And if you end up failing because of this, blame your professor or an unfair school system.

10. Behave like a victim

If you find you’re not getting straight A’s because you followed the aforementioned advice, know that it’s not your fault. Yeah, you procrastinated, refused to ask for help, and skipped classes, but you are a victim first and foremost. So, your bad grades must be someone else’s fault. You just need to find those people and make sure they know you failed because of them—not because of anything you did.

Wrapping up

Obviously, this is terrible advice. In all seriousness, please don’t do any of these things. But, if you want to see how you can quickly cause the coming year to plummet, consider these points.

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Career Colleges General Interest Online learning

5 reasons why it’s important for distance learners to read fiction

As a distance learner, are you wasting your time if you read novels?

I would argue you’re not.

While many people espouse the benefits of reading nonfiction books (of which there are many), many do not give novels credit where credit is due.

Novels can really be helpful for distance learners. Let’s take a look at a few reasons why.

1. Reading novels can help you concentrate for longer periods of time

The Internet teaches our brains to scan instead of read.

I’ve found that after reading for hours online, it can be difficult to transition to reading a novel. During those times, I feel distracted by the book, since it requires me not to skim but to concentrate for much longer periods of time than I’m used to when browsing the Internet. 

Perhaps you’ve experienced something similar when you crack open a textbook after reading online.

A 2019 study suggests that our attention spans have been shrinking in recent years. Social media, 24-hour news, and other products of the digital age are largely to blame for this.

To counteract a shrinking attention span, try reading a novel. By helping you practice concentration, reading a novel helps you develop a longer attention span. And a longer attention span can help you focus during class.

2. Reading novels can foster a love of reading

It can be tiresome if you only read academic books that require a lot of intensive thinking. Sticking with only those books you are required to read may zap some of the fun out of reading.

But with novels, the stuff you’re reading likely won’t apply to your life outside of the book. That’s why I like novels—because they’re “brain candy.”

I like to use this analogy: If all the exercise you do is strenuous, taxing workouts, you may be more likely to quit than you would be if you integrated some “just-for-fun” workouts (like a hike or a favorite sport) into your exercise routine.

In the same way, reading something for the simple joy of reading can help you stick with the habit, even when you aren’t required to read a book. And learning to love reading will help you to love learning (in general).

3. Reading novels can help you improve your writing

Being exposed to the proper use of grammatical rules on a regular basis will help you polish your own writing. This is especially good when you’re taking classes that involve writing multiple papers throughout the semester.

Finally, the best novels have a cadence that flows. So, if you want your papers to flow, get exposed to what good cadence looks like by reading a great novel.

4. Reading novels can teach you new words

As a distance learner, your classes can vary wildly between multiple fields, so having a wide variety of words to draw from can be useful. Often, I find myself learning at least a few new words when I’m reading a novel.

Side note: The built-in dictionary features of an e-book reader (such as an Amazon Kindle), can make it easier for you to expand your vocabulary. 

5. Reading novels can help you practice retaining information

Did you know you can mold your brain? This is a concept known as neural plasticity.

So, if you have trouble remembering necessary facts for an exam, you may want to mold your brain in a way that improves your memory. This is where novels can be handy.

With a lot of good novels, you have to juggle the names of multiple characters, places, fictional organizations, etc. You have to remember if a character is a villain, hero, or neither.

If you’re reading sci-fi or fantasy, you likely have to remember the names of different creatures, locations, and devices that are part of that universe.

Remembering all this stuff may not be of much use outside of reading the novel, but it allows you to get used to the idea of remembering specific pieces of information. This in turn may help you remember much-needed info for your tests.

Wrapping up

I know you have a lot of reading to do for school. But I encourage you to mix up your reading diet with a fun novel. I think you’ll be surprised with how beneficial this practice can be.

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Career Colleges General Interest Online learning

6 ways distance learners can stay connected to their school (and show school spirit)

Distance learning has plenty of benefits, such as cost savings, flexibility, and the ability to learn just about anywhere, to name a few. But if you’re a distance learner, one challenge you may be facing is feeling like you belong at your college or university. 

“School spirit” may seem like a foreign term as a distance learner. Since you’re not attending in-person, is it possible to feel connected to it?

The answer: It can be. But it will take some initiative on your part. 

Let’s take a look at six ways you can foster school spirit and feel more connected to your school.

1. Get to know your classmates virtually

Building a community of fellow students is perhaps the best way to feel like you belong to a college or university. 

So, if your professor posts a discussion thread, be sure to contribute. And be sure to engage in each class. Asking relevant questions or answering questions where appropriate will help others view you as an academic resource, and they may be more likely to contact you directly. 

Group projects are also a great way to get to know others. When you meet, be sure to take advantage of any icebreaker questions that may come up. That way, you can find fellow students with similar experiences or interests.

2. Find classmates in your area

Use social media to find classmates who live in your area. If you feel comfortable, shoot them a message to see if they’d like to connect virtually. (Hint: Doing this will also give you experience in using sales techniques, since a big part of sales is reaching out to people you may not know).

Aside from social media, you can email your college counselor to see if your school has ways to connect you to other students where you live. Or you can peruse your school’s website to see if you can find any info on connecting with local students. 

Finding classmates in your area may take a little digging, but it could be worth it to feel attached to your school.

3. Watch events and games online

Whether or not you’re able to connect with fellow students in your area, you can still feel like you’re part of the school community by watching live lectures and sporting events online. 

Certainly, these events may be more enjoyable to watch with other students, but if you can’t get people together in-person, maybe get fellow students who aren’t in your area together to watch the events along with you. Then, text them throughout the lecture or game about the event. 

4. Occasionally visit the campus 

Many schools have a welcome week where they invite distance learners to explore the campus, meet their teachers, and get to know other students. Throughout the year, you may want to attend a few in-person lectures, travel to a game, or visit to hear a guest speaker. 

Take a look at your school’s calendar for the year. If possible, make plans to attend at least once a semester. And if you can’t attend in-person, be sure to attend these events virtually. 

5. Wear school apparel

This is a simple, but effective way to show your school spirit. What you wear can change how you feel about yourself, and that includes feeling connected to your school. Going out and about while displaying your school spirit can give you a sense of pride in your college or university.

Who knows? Maybe you’ll see someone else wearing your school’s logo, in which case you may want to strike up a conversation. 

6. Plan to go to your graduation

Make plans to attend your graduation in-person. It can be nice to know that one day you will likely meet many of your classmates whom you may have only met virtually. 

Wrapping up

Fostering school spirit as a distance learner is doable with a little effort. I hope these tips will help you do that.

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Career Colleges Exams General Interest Online learning

7 ways to help distance learners focus for extended periods of time

Technology is a blessing to distance learners everywhere. But it’s also a curse. 

For instance, does your phone go off frequently throughout the day with calls, texts, and other notifications? And are you bombarded by pop-up windows and video ads when doing basic research for school? All these distractions make it difficult to focus on your studies.

On top of all that, the Internet has trained our brains to scan instead of read. An estimated 16% of Internet users actually read each word on a page. 

The bottom line is that technology has made it easier than ever for distance learners to be distracted. But there are some practices that will help you to stay on track academically.

1. Avoid multitasking

You’ve heard the saying, “Jack of all trades, master of none.” I think the same concept applies to where we divide our attention, so that the saying could read, “Doer of all tasks, master of none.”

To help you prevent doing tasks half-way, focus on one task at a time. One way to do this is by prioritizing your tasks at the start of each day or week. 

It can be tempting to think that you’re being more productive by bouncing from task to task. But maintaining focus on each task will ensure you do it correctly.

2. Listen to music or white noise

Loud, unexpected noises can break your focus, which is especially frustrating if you’re taking a test. 

Block out any unwanted noise by downloading a white noise app, buying a box fan, or listening to music. 

I would avoid listening to podcasts during this time, as those tend to require more of your attention than, say, listening to classical music.

3. Figure out your optimal time of day to work

Nearly everyone has a time of day that works best for them to be productive. And once you find yours, stick with doing your most intense work during those hours. A routine can help your brain know when it’s time to work on school, and when it can take a break.

I think you’ll be surprised at how much you accomplish with your classes by operating primarily during these optimal hours. 

4. Take brain breaks

College is often mentally strenuous. It can be helpful to allow your brain to rest periodically. 

Exercising is always a healthy way to do this, such as by going for a brisk walk or doing some weightlifting. 

But if you want to lounge while you take a break, watch an episode of your favorite TV show. If you do this, try to avoid the temptation of binge-watching. So, maybe stick with half-hour sitcoms rather than dramatic hour-long shows.

5. Don’t drink too much caffeine

As I write this piece, I’m having trouble focusing. I believe it has something to do with being on my third cup of coffee today (my normal intake is one to two cups each day). 

Caffeine can make it difficult to focus, so limit your intake in a way that makes sense for you. 

Also, being hopped-up on caffeine may make it difficult to focus during a class, which may result in you missing important information.

6. Set your phone to Do Not Disturb

This one is pretty straightforward. You can set the hours when you don’t want to be bothered, such as during your prime working hours. 

In addition, many phones allow you to activate a Silence Unknown Callers (or equivalent) feature. This can help you concentrate on your studies without being distracted by spam callers.

7. Allow yourself to not be perfect at focusing

Sometimes, you may find yourself focusing on the fact that you aren’t focusing enough. You may beat yourself up over this, which just shifts your focus from schoolwork to yourself. Plus, beating yourself up erodes your confidence. 

And whenever you approach a test or assignment, you want to have a certain level of confidence in your abilities. Don’t jeopardize that by making yourself feel insecure over having trouble focusing.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.