Let’s face it: it can be tough to stay motivated in an online course. After all, you’re not in a traditional classroom setting with your peers and professor right in front of you. As a result, it can sometimes feel like you’re on your own; making it easy to get sidetracked or lose focus.
But don’t worry – we’re here to help!
In this article, we’ll break down 15 of the best strategies for staying motivated during your online coursework. Plus, we’ll also answer some common questions that students have about motivation and online learning. Stay focused and determined – you can do this!
Before we get started, want to learn more about the self-paced, online courses offered at QC Design School? Check out our full course catalog!
What Are The Benefits Of Online Learning?
When it comes to online learning, there are a ton of benefits that students can take advantage of. For starters, online courses are very flexible and can be completed at your own pace. As such, they’re the perfect option for busy adults who may not have the time to commit to a traditional classroom setting.
Additionally, online courses tend to be more affordable than their brick-and-mortar counterparts. Typically, this is because online schools don’t have the same overhead costs as traditional colleges and universities.
And lastly, there is a wide range of courses available online. With distance education, students tend to have a wider range of options at their disposal, since you’re not limited by course options offered by the schools in your town/city. Thus, you’re sure to find one that fits your specific needs and interests.
We recommend giving this article by the University of St. Augustine for 16 more advantages of taking an online course!
Why Is Motivation Important In Online Learning?
Now that we’ve gone over some of the benefits of online learning, you might be wondering: why is motivation so important?
The answer is simple – without motivation, it can be tough to succeed in an online course. This is because, as we mentioned before, online courses can be quite flexible… And that means there’s a greater chance for students to get sidetracked or push off their coursework.
In a traditional classroom setting, there’s typically more accountability and structure. With online learning, however, it’s up to the student to stay on track and motivated.
Of course, this isn’t to say that online courses are harder than traditional ones – they’re just different. And in order to be successful, it’s important to understand how to manage your time and keep yourself motivated throughout the duration of the course.
How Effective Is Online Training?
In short – very!
According to Forbes, a study conducted in 2012 by a Babson/College Board revealed that 77% of academic leaders consider an online course to be equal to – or even superior – to an in-person program.
Additionally, in this same article, Forbes also notes that in a 2018 study done by Learning House, Inc., “85% of students who had previously enrolled in both face-to-face and online courses felt their online experience was either the same or better than the classroom course”. Among that 85%, 37% of those students stated that online learning was the “superior” experience!
Similarly, the University of The Potomac have also provided stats in support of this argument, too. In particular, they state that nearly 70% of all students “claim online instruction to be as good as or better than in a traditional classroom setting”.
Why Is This?
So, the logical question is: why is online learning so effective?
In large part, it could be because of the way online courses are designed.
You see, online courses are typically designed to be interactive and engaging. They often make use of multimedia (like videos, images, and infographics) to help explain concepts in a more visual way. Additionally, many online courses also incorporate activities and quizzes to help students retain the information they’re learning.
This is in contrast to traditional, lecture-based learning, which can often be quite dry and boring. And as we all know, it’s tough to stay motivated when you’re not engaged with the material!
So, if you’re looking for a more interactive and engaging learning experience, an online course might be a great option for you!
How Do You Stay Motivated Working Online?
Alright, now that we’ve gone over some of the advantages of online learning, as well as why motivation is important, it’s time to give you some tips on how to stay motivated in an online course!
Here are 15 strategies to help you stay motivated…
15 Strategies To Stay Motivated In An Online Course
1. Choose An Online Course You’re Interested In
This might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important to choose a course that you’re actually interested in. If you’re not passionate about the material, it’ll be tough to find the motivation to stick with it.
Of course, there are some instances where you might not have a choice in the matter (like if you’re taking a required course for work). But if you have the opportunity to pick your own course, be sure to choose one that piques your interest!
For example, QC Design School has a wide variety of online courses in the field of home design! We offer a(n):
- Interior decorating certification course
- Home staging certification course
- Professional organizing certification course
- Feng Shui design certification course
- Landscape design certification course
- Color consulting certification course
- Floral design certification course
- Aging in Place design certification course
- Virtual design training mini course (with certificate upon completion)
- Accelerate Your Business workshop
The best part? You can enroll in ANY of these courses without any prior training, education, or qualifications! Since we’ll teach you everything you need to know from the ground up, all you need is a passion for design to get started.
PRO TIP: Want to get a better idea of what it’s really like to learn online with QC Design School? Check out this student testimonial video!
2. Set Small, Achievable Goals
When you’re first starting out, it can be easy to get overwhelmed. After all, there’s a lot of material to cover!
To prevent this feeling of overwhelm (and the resulting loss of motivation), it’s important to set small, achievable goals.
For example, rather than saying “I’m going to finish the entire course in one week”, break it down into smaller goals, like “I’m going to complete Module One by the end of the day”.
Not only is this goal more achievable, but it’s also less daunting. And when you’re feeling good about your progress, you’ll be more likely to stay motivated and keep going!
3. Create A Schedule…And Stick To It!
One of the great things about online learning is that you can study at your own pace. But while this flexibility is definitely a perk, it can also be a bit of a double-edged sword. You see, without a set schedule, it’s easy to let other commitments (like work, family, and social obligations) take precedence.
Before you know it, you’ve fallen behind…and it’s tough to catch up. To avoid this situation, it’s important to create a schedule – and then stick to it!
So, set aside a specific time each day (or week) for studying, and make sure you treat that time like any other appointment. That means no skipping, and no excuses!
And if you find yourself struggling to stick to your schedule, try setting reminders or enlisting the help of a friend or family member. You can also utilize apps/software like StayFocusd, which block certain websites and apps while you’re trying to stay on task.
4. Find A Study Buddy
One of the best ways to stay motivated in an online course is to find a study buddy! Having someone to help you stay on track (and hold you accountable) can make all the difference. Not only that, but studying with a friend can also make the material more enjoyable.
After all, learning is always more fun when you’re doing it with someone you like!
If you’re not sure how to find a study buddy, try posting in the course forums or on social media. You can also reach out to friends and family members who might be interested in taking the same course.
PRO TIP: If you’re a QC student, join QC Design School’s Virtual Classroom on Facebook to find the perfect study buddy!
5. Take Breaks
When you’re trying to stay motivated, it’s important to remember that breaks are okay! In fact, taking periodic breaks can actually help you retain information better. So, if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed or burnt out, take a step back and give yourself some time to relax.
Maybe watch a short movie, take a walk, or read a chapter from your favorite book. Just make sure you set a timer, so you don’t end up taking an overly long break!
6. Reward Your Achievements
As you complete each goal, it’s important to reward yourself! This could be something as simple as taking a break, or treating yourself to a small piece of candy. Whatever it is, make sure it’s something that will motivate you to keep going.
Remember, the whole point is to make the process more enjoyable. So, if your rewards are making you happier and more engaged, then they’re doing their job!
Need help coming up with ideas for ways to reward yourself? Here’s 155 of them!
7. Set Deadlines
In addition to setting smaller goals, it can also be helpful to set deadlines while completing your online course. For instance, you might give yourself two weeks to complete a specific unit of the program. Similarly, you might set a personal deadline for each of your assignments.
Doing this will help you stay on track and prevent procrastination. That said, it’s obviously important to be realistic when setting your deadline. Otherwise, you’re likely to get frustrated and give up.
So, take a close look at the material and assess how much time you realistically need. From there, add a buffer to account for any unforeseen issues (like technical difficulties or sick days).
And remember: if you’re struggling to meet your deadlines, try breaking down the material into smaller chunks. This will make it seem less daunting and help you better gauge your progress!
8. Don’t Hesitate To Contact Student Support
When you’re taking an online course, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone! If you’re struggling with the material or just need some clarification, don’t hesitate to reach out to your school’s student support team.
After all, it’s their job to help you whenever needed!
QC Design School’s Student Support Team, for example, is available 7 days a week. They can be reached by phone, email, or live chat – depending on your personal preference.
All we’re trying to say is, if you ever have any questions or concerns, never feel like you can’t reach out and ask for some help.
9. Stay Organized
This one might seem a bit obvious, but it’s still worth mentioning! In order to stay motivated while taking an online course, you need to stay organized. This means having a dedicated space for studying, as well as keeping all of your materials organized and easily accessible.
Here are some quick tips to help you with organization as an online student:
- Use a planner to keep track of assignments, deadlines, and upcoming tests/quizzes
- Create a digital folder for each class on your computer, and save all relevant documents in that folder
- Keep a physical notebook specifically for taking notes during lectures
- Set up a daily/weekly study schedule and stick to it as much as possible
- Let friends and family know when you’ll be busy with coursework so they don’t distract you
10. Make Your Study Space Special
While we’re on the topic of organization, it’s also important to make sure your study space is comfortable and inviting. After all, you’re going to be spending a lot of time there!
Here are some suggestions to get you started:
- Invest in a comfortable chair and desk
- Make sure there’s plenty of natural light
- Decorate with some of your favorite things
- Add some plants to purify the air
- Play some calming music in the background
Essentially, do whatever you need to do to make your space a place you enjoy spending time in!
11. Remember That Coursework Progression Doesn’t Have To Be Linear
One of the great things about online courses is that they offer a lot of flexibility. If you’re struggling with a particular lesson or assignment, don’t hesitate to move on to something else and come back at a later time. This way, you can focus on the material that interests you most and come back to the more difficult concepts later.
For instance, say you were on Unit D of QC’s Interior Decorating Course (which is all about learning how to create floorplans). There are ten assignments in this unit, along with four self-study assignments. However, there are no deadlines for any of these assignments – nor is there a particular order you have to do them in.
As such, if you were to get stuck or lose motivation during any of these assignments, you can simply switch to a different one and then go back to that other assignment later on!
On that note, moving onto something else when feeling stuck or frustrated doesn’t mean that you should completely abandon the material you’re struggling with. Chances are, it’ll need to be done at some point in order to submit and/or pass a unit. All we’re saying is, there’s no shame in taking a non-linear approach to your coursework!
12. Take Advantage Of Online Resources
When you’re taking an online course, there are a ton of different resources available to you – many of which aren’t available to traditional, brick-and-mortar students.
For instance, let’s say you’re having trouble understanding a particular concept in your course. In addition to reaching out to your Student Support Team (like we mentioned earlier), you can also take advantage of online resources like YouTube videos and forums. There are probably thousands of videos out there that explain various concepts in detail.
QC Design School, as an example, has a wonderful YouTube channel – and also gives students and grads access to their exclusive Online Student Center!
And if you can’t find anything relevant to what you’re looking for, chances are you can find someone on a forum who would be more than happy to help you out!
13. Prioritize Your Physical and Mental Health
When you’re trying to complete an online course, it’s important to remember that your physical and mental health should always come first.
If you’re feeling burned out, make sure to take a break – even if it’s just for a few minutes. Go for a walk, listen to some music, or call a friend. Do whatever you need to do to relax and rejuvenate yourself.
It’s also important to make sure you’re eating healthy, exercising, and getting enough sleep. When your body is well-rested and nourished, you’ll be able to focus better and retain information more easily. Trust us – taking care of yourself will make completing your coursework a lot easier in the long run!
14. Don’t Feel Like You Have To Rush
One of the great things about online courses is that they’re self-paced. This means that you can take as much time as you need to complete each lesson and assignment. Of course, there are some benefits to completing a course in a shorter amount of time – like finishing before your free trial expires!
However, if you find yourself struggling to stay motivated in an online course, it might be because you’re trying to complete it too quickly. Instead of rushing through the material, take your time and savor each lesson. After all, you want to make sure you understand the concepts before moving on.
Did you know that QC Design School gives you a full two years to complete your online course? It’s true… However, you can use as much or as little of that timeframe as you need!
15. Remember Why You Enrolled In This Online Course In The First Place
When you first enrolled in your online course, you probably had a specific goal or outcome in mind. Maybe you wanted to learn more about a certain subject, start a new career, or earn a promotion at work. Perhaps you enrolled because you’re really passionate about this field of study.
Whatever the case may be, it’s important to keep that goal in mind when times get tough. Remembering why you’re doing this will help you stay motivated and keep moving forward – even when the going gets tough.
Tips For Staying Motivated: What NOT To Do
Now that we’ve gone over some of the things you can do to stay motivated, let’s talk about five key mistakes you should avoid making.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
As we mentioned earlier, there’s no shame in admitting that you need some assistance. If you’re feeling stuck, make sure to reach out to your Student Support Team or take advantage of online resources.
Don’t try to rush through the material
One of the great things about online courses is that they’re self-paced. This means that you can take as much time as you need to complete each lesson and assignment. Rushing through your readings and assignments will only lead to frustration, a feeling of being overwhelmed, and the inability to properly retain what you’re supposed to be learning.
Don’t try to justify unwanted behavior
It can be all too easy to procrastinate, or make excuses for yourself when you’re doing the opposite of what you know you should be doing. However, it’s important to be honest with yourself – and avoid making excuses.
Especially in an online course, it’s up to you and you alone to keep yourself accountable!
Don’t use negative self-talk
When you’re trying to stay motivated, it’s important to avoid using negative self-talk. This includes things like telling yourself that you’re not good enough or that you’ll never be able to finish the course. Instead, focus on positive affirmations and speaking kindly to yourself.
Here are a few examples of what positive self-talk might look like:
- “I can do this!”
- “I’m capable of completing this course.”
- “I’m intelligent and hardworking.”
- “I will succeed in finishing this online course.”
Don’t forget to take care of yourself
Finally, it’s important to remember that you can’t pour from an empty cup. In other words, you need to make sure you’re taking care of yourself before trying to take care of others. This includes things like getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, and exercising regularly.
By making self-care a priority, you’ll be better equipped to handle the challenges that come your way – both in and out of your online course.
How To Motivate Yourself During Online Classes When You’re Ready To Give Up
If we’re being honest, most students (be it online or in brick-and-mortar courses) will reach at least one point where they feel like giving up altogether.
My Own Story
I mean, it definitely happened to me. Back when I was in University, I hit my proverbial glass ceiling by the end of my third year. I remember calling up my mom while in tears, insisting that I just didn’t want to do it anymore, and voicing my desire to drop out.
My parents definitely wouldn’t have been happy about it, but ultimately, they said it was my choice. After thinking about it (okay, obsessing over it) over summer break, I decided I’d invested too much time in my degree not to see my final year through. So, once September rolled back around, I was back in class.
I won’t sit here and pretend that during that final year, the urge to drop out didn’t once again cross my mind. In fact, it was a tempting urge at least once a month. But ultimately, I chose to stick it out, graduate, and earn my degree… And had I not done that, I probably wouldn’t be here now, writing this article.
(Graduation day, 2013.)
Yes, it took some time for the fruits of my four-year labor to ripen. There were a number of years after I graduated that I joked about my University education doing nothing more than collecting dust, while I struggled to make a career out of the field I’d majored in. But just when I’d least suspected it, I landed my current job with QC… And now I get to live out my dream of being paid to write, while coming up on three years with the best company I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with.
I suppose this is all my long, drawn out way of saying that I’m glad I didn’t give into that urge to quit, all those years ago!
So, What Should YOU Do When You Feel Like Quitting?
Now that you’ve heard my story, you might be wondering what YOU should do the next time you feel like giving up on your online course.
Well, I’m glad you asked! Here are five things to keep in mind:
- It’s okay to feel discouraged or unmotivated at times – we all go through it! The key is to not let those negative emotions take control.
- You need to be proactive in order to make sure you stay on track.
- Set realistic goals for yourself, and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
- Make sure you’re taking care of yourself, both mentally and physically. Furthermore, remember that it’s never too late to change your mind. If you’re feeling lost, or like you’re in over your head, it’s okay to take a step back. But whatever you do, don’t give up on your dreams!
- Which leads us to my last – and arguably, most important – piece of advice: remember that you’re capable of anything you set your mind to!
In conclusion, we hope that this article has given you some useful tips and advice on how to stay motivated while taking an online course. Stay positive, set goals, and most importantly, never give up on yourself!
Do you have any other suggestions? Let us know in the comments below!
We also want to hear your story! For example, have you ever felt like giving up on an online course? What made you keep going?
We can’t wait to hear from you!
Happy learning! 🙂