• 13 Ways to Study at Home Without Going Crazy

    RACHEL NOVOTNY

    study-at-home-without-going-crazy

    The day had begun so nicely. As you rolled out of bed and donned your favorite hoodie, you held high hopes for the day. “Today will be the day I finally have the breakthrough I need to finish calculus,” you proclaim. You smile to yourself as you pour coffee into your oversized mug.

    Three hours later, you’re staring out the window and realize you haven’t accomplished anything.

    Well, that’s not entirely true. You’ve refilled your coffee twice, answered the phone, checked Facebook three times, and finally replaced that light bulb in your closet. Sighing, you flip open your textbook for the millionth time. As you find the correct chapter, you hear your Labrador barking frantically at the back door.

    While it may sound nice to stay in your pajamas all day, studying at home is not without its pitfalls. But it doesn’t have to make you crazy. Here are 13 ways to avoid just that.

    1. Establish a routine

    Set a time you wake up, eat breakfast, get dressed, and begin studying. If you don’t set a routine for yourself, you may find your breakfast break stretch into... lunch. A routine provides a structure to get things done, keep the little things (like showering) from falling through the cracks, and frees you to plan for times to not study as well.

    2. Get dressed

    I know it’s tempting to wear pajamas all day or neglect brushing your hair for 15 days in a row. After all, you’re not planning to leave the house except for picking up emergency Doritos. However, you’ll feel much better about life and your studies when you take care of yourself. Make it a point to get dressed, brush your hair, and look presentable every day. (You might end up feeling a bit more motivated, too.)

    3. Change your location

    Discover a good coffee shop (and learn to like the house brew), grab a blanket and take your books outdoors, or scope out your local library to provide a change of scenery when hitting the books. Even moving to a new location in your home can work wonders.

    4. Switch your schedule

    If you have a set routine, but find yourself in a rut, switch your schedule around a bit. Often, a bit of variety is all it takes to restore enthusiasm. If you generally stay up later and get up a bit later, try an early to bed/early to rise routine for a bit. Perhaps slipping in a few hours of study before anyone else in your house is up will transform your study process.

    Or, if you’re a night owl, try taking a longer break in the morning or mid afternoon and getting a few hours of work accomplished at night when the rest of your family is asleep. If you’re trying to get 4 hours of studying in each day, try working in a 4-hour block with only short breaks, or four 1-hour sprints at various points during the day. There are no hard and fast study rules—mix it up and see what works best for you.

    5. Shut down your computer every night

    Shutting down your computer will give you a sense of closure. Set a “quitting time” for your day, and get away from the screen. Take some time to play a board game with family or friends, read a good book, or take a walk. By shutting down your computer, you’ll ensure your work is saved and you won’t feel like you are in eternal study mode (plus, regularly shutting down will help your computer will run faster!) Since you may not be able to change locations when your study day ends, it’s important to use other means to create a sense of closure to your studies each day.

    6. Keep your study space clean

    This one is more important than you’d think. First, a clean space helps you think clearly and focus, but that’s not all. When your study space is clean, you can find the supplies you need, when you need them. Nothing derails a study session like spending 15 minutes looking for that pencil you know you saw somewhere yesterday….

    7. Get a Beta fish

    Random, I know, but having a low-maintenance “study buddy” can be a fun way to perk up your study space. If fish aren’t your thing, find some way to make your study area fun and interesting. Try a lava lamp, silly putty, a Rubik’s Cube, a coloring book and crayons, or a stress ball to help you stay focused or challenge your brain while at your desk.

    8. Invest in a good headset

    No matter how excellent your focus, if you study at home it can be virtually impossible to tune out the noise around you. Dogs, younger siblings, and ringing phones are all very distracting and difficult to avoid. A good noise-canceling headset will be a huge help in this regard! You’ll be able to preserve both your sanity and your love of those around you.

    9. Have a good chair

    It’s tough to stay focused on the Battle of Waterloo or that tough statistics problem if you’re distracted by your aching back. Invest in a chair that is comfortable and promotes good posture. You’ll be able to focus more and be healthier along the way!

    10. Don’t work from your bed

    Your bed is comfy. The pillow WILL beckon to you. And if you’re sleep deprived, the temptation just may be too much to bear. But that’s just one of your concerns. Sitting on your bed when studying also promotes poor posture—which will decrease your focus and cause long-term health problems. Not to mention, crawling into bed at night won’t provide the same sense of restful relief if you’ve been using your it as a study station all day.

    11. Resist the snack attack

    The beauty of studying at home: you have a kitchen and fridge at your disposal. The downside of studying at home: you have a kitchen and fridge at your disposal. Even if food is plenteous (and your mom’s peanut butter chocolate chip cookies are legendary), resist the urge to constantly snack. You’ll feel healthier and avoid the dreaded “freshman 15.” Stock some healthy snacks—carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes, nuts, and hummus—for those times you simply must munch... and the Oreos are calling.

    12. Have friends

    Maintain your relationships while working on your degree. If you don’t have regularly-scheduled social events (like volunteering or study groups), this will require creativity and effort. But good friendships are worth the investment. Allot time for 15-minute calls just to catch up, and schedule the occasional coffee date. By carving out time from your schedule now, you are solidifying lifelong friendships.

    13. Be considerate

    Of course, you’ll have to block out time to study, and you won’t be able to participate in every activity you’re invited to. And you’ll probably need to kick a sibling out of your room from time to time for some peace and quiet. Your family is making sacrifices to allow you to be successful—so show them the same consideration you would to receive.

    If you have been studying for a few hours, and your sister needs the room to make a personal phone call, take a study break to let her use the room for a bit. Help with household chores, and do little things to make each family member feel special.

    Studying at home doesn’t have to equal hours of mind-numbing solitude! Give a few of these solutions a try and watch how your study time (and life in general) benefits.

    Want to do college online? Accelerated Pathways helps students take affordable online courses that transfer to almost any college across the U.S. You can save money while studying from home and still graduate from the college of your choice! Click here to find out if Accelerated Pathways can help you.

     

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    RACHEL NOVOTNY

  • Can You Earn a Legitimate Degree Online? Here’s How to be Sure!

    RACHEL NOVOTNY

    legitimate-degree

    You’re sitting around the dining room table, bracing yourself. It’s Christmas Day, and as always, you know your extended family will be making unwelcome enquiries into your social activities, love life, and, of course, education.

    As you begin filling Granny in on your college studies, how you’re pursuing them online instead of attending a college campus, Aunt Marge leans over the table, pats you on the elbow and asks: “But, Honey... are you sure you’re getting a real degree?”

    You pause, push your peas around your plate and shoot your mom a look, begging her to jump in.

    Silence.

    Aunt Marge’s question is a good one: how do you know you are earning a legitimate degree?

    The answer is accreditation.

    Other than satisfying the curiosity of family members over Christmas dinner, accreditation proves your degree is being awarded by a quality academic institution, and will ensure both employers and grad school admissions offices of the quality of your education.

    So what exactly is accreditation?

    In short, accreditation is a “seal of approval” from a third party, assuring a school offers a quality academic experience.

    While each school can be unique in requirements and teaching methods, accreditation strives to maintain a level of consistency in educational quality from school to school. In order to attain accreditation, schools must undergo a review process and meet a set of academic standards.

    Why does accreditation matter to me?

    You’ll spend a great deal of time and money earning your bachelor’s degree. You want to walk away with credentials that will open doors for you, right?

    Accredited degrees are especially important when applying for jobs and higher education opportunities. When presenting a degree from an accredited institution, you prove to potential employers and admissions officers that your college education was legitimate.

    If you earn an unaccredited bachelor’s degree, potential employers may not honor your degree and accredited schools may not allow you to apply to their graduate programs. Worst of all, any credits you might earn at an unaccredited school won’t transfer to an accredited one and you’ll have to do the work all over again.

    What kind of accreditation does my school need?

    Regional Accreditation is the most widely recognized form of accreditation and approves non-profit schools like Princeton, Yale, Liberty, and state schools (i.e., University of Alabama or Texas A&M).

    National Accreditation exists for for-profit schools such as The Art Institute and Bryman College. This kind of accreditation for specialized schools accounts for less than 6% of all schools. Because the requirements for National Accreditation are less stringent than those for Regional Accreditation, credits earned from a Nationally accredited school may not transfer to a Regionally accredited college.

    Read More: How to Make Sense of College Accreditation

    A word of caution: Many “diploma mills” create their own accrediting programs so they can claim to be “fully accredited.” Before deciding on a school or program to pursue, find out who has accredited that school. Which leads us to the next question:

    How do I know if my school is accredited?

    It’s pretty simple. To find out if a school is accredited, visit the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) website. Here you will find links to all 6 regional accreditation institutions and can discover if your school is accredited by one of the recognized accrediting agencies.

    So, what does this all mean for you?

    Other than no more ducking under the dinner table during family gatherings, you can remain confident that your online degree is worth the time and money you’re investing in it.

    While online degrees are new to many, accreditation provides the backing needed to prove that your degree is legitimate. Potential employers and higher education institutions will recognize your degree (even if it still confuses Aunt Marge), and it will open doors for your future.

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    RACHEL NOVOTNY