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9 Money Saving Tips for College Students on a Budget

By: Kayla Gowan

Let’s face it: college is expensive. Between tuition, housing, student fees, transportation, and textbooks – the costs add up quickly. For many college students, this is the first time you have to budget and manage money on your own. 

Managing money and setting budgetary goals may seem like the last things you want to do at the end of a busy day filled with classes and exams, but developing good habits is worth the effort. Managing in-college spending is a learning experience. Fortunately, there are many ways you can save money while in college. 

Here are the nine best money-saving tips for college students:

1. Rent Your Textbooks

Buying textbooks can be one of the biggest expenses every semester. One huge way to save money in college is to rent textbooks instead of buying them! With eCampus.com – you can save up to 90% off the regular price of a new textbook. eCampus.com also has three rental term lengths (short term, quarter term, and semester) to fit every student’s schedule and the ability to extend or purchase the rental at the end of the rental term.

If you’ve already purchased your textbooks, when the semester is over – you can sell your books back to eCampus.com for cash!

2. Apply for Grants and Scholarships

Start by filling out the FAFSA before each new school year, regardless of your family’s financial status, to tap into federal, state and institutional grants and scholarships. 

You can apply for scholarships and grants every year throughout college! It’s a misconception that scholarships are only for first-year students. In fact, many colleges have systems in place that reward students financially for good grades, volunteering, being an active part of the college town community, and many other things. Given that many scholarships go unclaimed (or have very few entries), if you dedicate some time to applying, you could find yourself saving on tuition costs! 

If you’re not sure where to find scholarships, the Federal Student Aid has compiled a list of places to look that you can view here. For more information about how financial aid works, you can read our eCampus blog post here.

3. Create a Budget

If you don’t know where your money is going every month, you’ll never know the true potential of your saving power! Start off small by giving yourself a weekly budget and see how close you come to accurately estimating expenses. Work on creating a realistic budget that you can stick to, incorporating all regular bills or payments. A budget isn’t set in stone and often takes several tries to get right – so keep working on it until you find the right balance!

A lack of structure can keep you from being on top of managing your spending and can mean disaster for your budget. Fortunately, there are a number of free budgeting apps to help.

3 Apps to Help with Budgeting for College Students

  • Mint: This money management and financial planning app lets you see all of your accounts in one place. You can swipe to check your balances or get reminders to pay your bills on time! 
  • Pocketguard: This app lets you see all of your mobile banking, including credit cards, checking and savings, loans, and investments in one place. After you’ve paid the bills, the app tells you how much you have left over, so you can save the rest! 
  • Personal Capital: Like Mint and Pocketguard, this app allows you to see all of your accounts on one platform. On this app, you can see separate graphs of your cash flow (income vs. expenses), your budget (what you’re spending your money on), and your investments.

4. Split the Cost of Rent with Roommates

Living with roommates is the quintessential college experience. This is helpful for many students as you can split the cost of rent and utilities with one or more roommates.

Make a point to know what’s already provided in your future dorm or apartment. Some dorm rooms come equipped with a microwave or small fridge or an ironing board in the laundry facilities. An apartment might already come with appliances or even basic furniture. Coordinate with your roommates before shopping so you’re not double-buying items or buying things you don’t need.

Take good care of your apartment so you don’t forfeit your security deposit at the end of the semester!

5. Cook Your Own Food

Eating at restaurants can be one of the most expensive items in your budget. It’s almost always cheaper to cook than it is to go out to eat. While a dinner for $5-10 may sound cheap, it really does add up over time.

How Much do College Students Spend on Food?

The cost of a meal plan has doubled in the last 10 years. The average college and university charges about $4,500, or $18.75 per day, for a three-meal-a-day dining contract that covers the eight months or so of a typical academic year.

You can probably cook the same meal (and prep for future meals) for about half the price. If you do eat out, go for lunch or happy hour when restaurants are most likely to be offering discounts.

That goes for coffee, too! Let’s say you spend $5 on a daily cup of coffee – this can equal up to $375 per semester. Save the bank by investing in a coffee machine and making your morning brew from home! 

6. Use Public Transportation

Parking, gas, and insurance for your car can quickly add up. Many college campuses have free buses and shuttles that help students get around campus and even to nearby apartments. Some schools even have rentable bikes or scooters for the semester!

If you need public transportation to get around, see if you can get a student pass. Many colleges partner with their local transit authorities and offer student discounts and student passes for busses, subways, trolleys, and more.

7. Use Student Discounts

Don’t leave home without your student ID! Most places offer a student discount – this can include restaurants, shops, movie theaters, theme parks, and more!

Another big expense for college students is technology. Many students want (or need) to get a new laptop. Plus, some classes require their own specific software that you need to install. Often, technology companies offer significant discounts to students – from Apple and Microsoft, to Adobe and more. If you’re getting any type of new computer or software, make sure to buy it through the education store and get your student discount.

Click here is a list of the top 60 discounts available to students right now! If you’re not sure whether a company offers a student discount, there’s no harm in asking. Better “save” than sorry!

8. Utilize Campus Resources

Check out the amenities that are free for students to use on campus. Campus resources are designed to make college easier, but that’s only the case if you use them!

  • Student Gym: working out and staying fit is important in college. Instead of spending money on a gym membership, see if your campus offers the use of the student gym for free. Most campuses have great athletic and gym facilities available to students. Take full advantage!
  • On-Campus Printing: printing is another area that can be costly, with papers eating up ink cartridges at home. Oftentimes, the cost of printing is included in your student facility fees. Check the school library to see if they offer free or discounted printing.
  • Campus Library: one of the most under-used, but best free tools on a college campus is the library. College libraries have everything, including books, computer stations, software, and more. Libraries also offer free spaces to study, meet with group members, or use the computer. 

Other commonly provided resources include tutoring, counseling, childcare, and career services. Check what your college offers before you pay extra for the same service elsewhere.

9. Take Advantage of Campus Activities

Going out every weekend can drain your entertainment budget very quickly. Instead, keep up with what’s happening on campus. Most colleges organize plenty of events throughout the semester, ranging from museum visits, to movie nights, and more for free or discounted rates.

Check the events page on your school website to see what’s up and coming. You can also look for signs and promotions around your campus. These signs often promote free food in an attempt to get students to come. If you do this regularly, you can probably get your lunch taken care of most days! And maybe even learn something! 

Bonus: Attending campus events is a great way to make new friends, too!

While saving money as a college student is not always easy, it is possible with plenty of hard work and a commitment to your financial security and wellbeing. Meeting your budgetary goals will not only help your college experience, but prepare you for a bright financial future!

Be sure to connect with us @ecampusdotcom on Twitter, Instagram, & Facebook for more resources, tips, and some great giveaways! And when it’s time for textbooks, eCampus.com has you covered for all your course material needs at savings up to 90%!

References:

  1. https://turbo.intuit.com/blog/real-money-talk/how-to-save-money-in-college-1539/ 
  2. https://www.debt.org/students/college-budgeting-101/ 
  3. https://www.affordablecollegesonline.org/college-resource-center/student-guide-to-budgeting/ 
  4. https://thecollegeinvestor.com/22453/save-money-in-college/ 
  5. https://www.thesimpledollar.com/financial-wellness/63-quick-tips-to-save-money-in-college/ 

FAFSA – How Does Financial Aid Work?

Financial Aid Definition

According to Wikipedia, student financial aid in the United States is funding that is available exclusively to students attending a post-secondary educational institution in the United States.

The Office of Federal Student Aid provides more than $120 BILLION in aid each year to help pay for college or trade school. This aid can come from a variety of sources, however, there is only one way to access these funds – by using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). 

When to Apply for FAFSA

The FAFSA filing timeframe always begins October 1st the year BEFORE you plan to attend school. So if you plan to attend college in fall of 2021, you can file as early as October 1st, 2020. Typically applications continue to be accepted through June 30th the year you plan to attend. 

PRO TIP: You’ll want to make sure to file as early as possible, because many states and some colleges award financial aid on a first come first served basis. 

To make things easy, here’s some upcoming filing deadlines. Go ahead and put these in your calendar:

  • June 30, 2021 | FAFSA Deadline for the 2021-22 Academic Year
  • June 30, 2020 | FAFSA Deadline for the 2020-21 Academic Year

What are the Types of Federal Student Aid?

Student aid is not always “free money” – in fact usually it’s not! It’s important to understand the differences between aid types and, more importantly, how they impact your pre and post education finances.

Grants

These are the only types of federal student aid that don’t need to be repaid – so pay attention to these. Within this category, there are 4 different types of grants. Maybe you’ve heard of a few of these:

  1. Pell Grant – The average amount is $4,271 (these figures are usually given on a ‘per year’ basis) and is primarily for undergraduates who have the greatest “financial need”.

PRO TIP: You’re going to see the words “financial need” appear a lot in the student aid requirements. If you’re wondering what that means, the department of education defines this as:

Financial need is simply defined as the difference between the student’s cost of attendance (COA) and the family’s ability to pay these costs. Note that the student’s financial need will be reduced by aid that is awarded to the student.

  1. Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) – This is often awarded in addition to the Pell Grant, so if you qualify for one, you’re a priority for the other. For this reason, the amount is smaller – around $599 per year.
  2. Teacher Education Assistance (TEACH) Grant – It makes sense that educators would lobby to award aid to future educators. This is the purpose of the TEACH grant – focused exclusively to high need students in teaching programs, especially elementary or secondary school levels.
  3. Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant – Awarded to students whose parent or guardian was a member of the armed forces and died as a result of performing military service in Iraq, Afghanistan, or on 9/11.

Loans

If you are just graduating high school, are looking at college, and you don’t have extraordinary “financial need” but also don’t have $35,000, then chances are you probably don’t have much of a credit history either. At least not enough to secure a traditional loan for $35,000 (that’s the average cost of a 4-year degree by the way). Banks would normally never loan this much to a person with little to no financial history.

This is the main reason for the government-created William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan program. Using this program, you can borrow money directly from the U.S. Department of Education rather than a bank. Like federal grants, there are also 4 different types of federal loans – but unlike grants, these will need to be repaid with interest:

  1. Direct Subsidized – These loans are made available to undergraduate students that can demonstrate “financial need”.

PRO TIP: “Subsidized” means having part of the cost paid to keep your cost low.

  1. Direct Unsubsidized – These loans are made available to students who don’t need to demonstrate “financial need” to be eligible.
  2. Direct PLUS Loans – If you don’t qualify for other types of federal student aid, you probably still qualify for this type of loan program. This is primarily for students and parents of students, who may have some credit history.
  3. Direct Consolidation Loans –  Most students require multiple sources of financing to afford college. This program allows you to roll all of your loans together under one servicer, and sometimes at a reduced interest rate.

PRO TIP:  On a standard 10-year repayment plan, a borrower  will pay $6,405 in interest or about $641 per year. Pay attention to interest rates! Source

Work-Study

Just like the name implies, a federal work-study job is there to help you earn your way through school. These are primarily community service related and possibly even something related to your field of study (it depends on your school). These jobs are always part-time and only offered while you’re enrolled.

Your FAFSA Application

Now that you know what types of college financial aid you can expect, it’s time to take the first step and visit the FAFSA Website where you will begin your application. Here’s a quick overview of the steps involved:

  1. Create a FSA ID, Username, and Password (and keep this somewhere safe).
  2. Gather Documents
    1. SSN
    2. Parent’s SSN (if you’re a dependent)
    3. Driver’s License Number
    4. Alien Registration Number (if applicable)
    5. Tax Info, such as tax returns and W-2.
    6. Income information for both you and you’re parents.
    7. Info on how much cash & savings you have.
  3. Use the documents to fill out the application
    1. Online at https://studentaid.gov/h/apply-for-aid/fafsa.
    2. On your phone using the myStudentAid mobile app.
    3. On paper by printing/mailing the FAFSA PDF.
  4. List the colleges and schools you’re interested in.
  5. Report Parents’ Info (if you’re a dependent student)

PRO TIP: You’re going to be asked a number of times if you are a dependent or independent student. If you aren’t sure, you can look this up here.

  1. Provide Your Financial Info
  2. Sign & Submit

FAFSA Customer Service

Here are all the contacts to get help with filling out your applications:

Student Aid Report (SAR)

Next, you’ll receive a report that details your eligibility for aid and is typically sent within 3-10 days, depending on how you submitted it (longer if you filled out the paper version). The SAR will NOT tell you how much money you will need to pay for college nor will it tell you how much aid you will receive. The name is misleading, but this report is mainly something you’ll want to check for accuracy, because it is used in calculations to determine those things.

Financial Aid Award Letters

Now for the fun part! 

Award letters come from the colleges that you applied to, and usually become available 1-3 months after you submitted your application. This will explain the total amount of money a school will offer you. They won’t all come at once, but you should start getting these shortly after your acceptance letters.

Here’s the order in which you should be accepting aid:

  1. Free Money (Grants)
  2. Earned Money (Work-Study)
  3. Federal Student Loans
  4. State/School-specific Loans
  5. Private Loans

The award letter will detail next steps for how to accept aid. Keep in mind that the timeline for receiving the money varies widely depending on the type of aid. Work-Study for example, will only pay after your first week on the job, which is usually AFTER you have started classes.

In Conclusion

This process is time-consuming, confusing, and often frustrating. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the benefits of both your education and the aid you receive for that education, more than compensate for your efforts. For many students, this will be one of the first steps into adulthood. You can do this – we believe in you!

Was this helpful? Did we miss something? Do you have something to add? If so let us know!

Share your thoughts with us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter @ecampusdotcom.

Tips for Scoring a College Internship

College internships are a competitive element of the college experience. Employers look for the best and brightest to intern with them, and with today’s diverse, capable pool of applicants, there is no shortage of options.

So, how do you find a college internship? Here are six tips on how to best go about scoring an internship near you:

1. Determine your interests.

Get a general idea of what career you plan on working toward, or how or where you think your time would be most well spent. Consider your goals, hobbies, and passions when seeking internships. Get an idea of what you want to be doing and how you can achieve it.

Some college students already know what they’d like to study, while others remain undecided for a time. If you have a career path chosen, an internship that will help you on that road would be the best fit. If you don’t know where you might end up, no worries! Find a subject that interests you and go from there. 

Recognize that some types of internships are more relevant to your goals than others. A music-focused job might be fun and cater to your love of the piano, but if you’re studying psychology, it isn’t likely to help you.

2. How to find an internship.

Think about your major’s requirements. Take into account the credits you may need, the experience you should gain, and the knowledge you’ll need to attain. Keep these in mind during your search.

Do your research. There are plenty of internships that aren’t widely advertised and some that are even based online. Researching open internships related to your area of interest can yield all sorts of results. Check out internships.com for an expansive list of internships in different industries. You can even seek out company-specific internships like Tesla & NBC, or explore industries like mechanical engineering or network engineering internships.

Make a list of potential employers and internships you find. You can also do simple Google searches that include your area of interest + internships + preferred location (ie: Tesla engineering internships in the Baby area, eBay internships in New York City, etc.). How about a Google internship? Prominent companies like Google provide dedicated pages to help guide your internship and career exploration. See Google’s internship page HERE. 

Joining a club or society dedicated to the area you’re interested in can open a world of possibilities, as they tend to post new opportunities and acquaint you with new people. Career fairs and info nights can provide information about different internships and employers. These are all good ways to sort through options and make connections.

3. Ace your internship applications.

Make yourself stand out. Clean up your resume, have references prepared, and find someone to write a letter of recommendation.

Have your application critiqued. You want your application to be as good as possible, so having it reviewed and critiqued by a professional can only improve it. A different perspective can help you find missing pieces and points to revise, which could be the key to your success.

Early application will likely produce better chances of getting an interview, given that most internships take applicants on a first-come, first-served basis. Applying early will also make you stand out as someone who takes their work seriously and is a go-getter when it comes to their future.

Submit applications to several potential employers. Don’t put all your eggs into one basket by applying for just one internship. You’ll find yourself disappointed and jobless if it doesn’t work out, and you’ll have a harder time finding new opportunities too late in the game. It’s also a good idea to be open to internships in different locations. Have you always dreamed of living in Chicago but reside in Houston? Search “Chicago Internships” and see what comes up! 

4. Prepare for interviews.

While every interview is different, the questions they ask are similar. Preparing answers to interview questions and mock interviews can give you an idea of what questions you’ll be asked and give you a better feel of an interview to ease your anxieties.

TIP: Wondering what kind of questions you’ll encounter in your interviews? Check out @thebalance’s careers blog post “Sample Internship Interview Questions.”

Research potential employers. The more you know about the company you’re interviewing for, the easier the interview becomes. Most company websites have an About Us page. Know it. Reference it. And be ready to talk about how you can support it. Research can reveal what interviewers are looking for in their candidates based on the company’s beliefs and practices.

Take your research a step further by connecting with employers on LinkedIn. A great networking tip is to seek out your internship hiring manager and introduce yourself through the professional social networking platform. Don’t have a profile? Create one today!

5. Follow up after the interview.

Send a thank-you note to your interviewer(s). You’ll want to do this within 24-hours of your interview. The letter should be short and straightforward, re-establishing your position and showing your gratitude for the opportunity. Invite requests for additional information and further communication in regards to the interview.

Send notes to those who aided you along the way (i.e., upperclassmen, recruiters, etc.). Thank them for their help and update them on how your interview went.

Emails are sufficient, but handwritten notes also work well. If you plan to write a handwritten note, be sure that it will arrive within two days of the interview.

TIP: Want to write a thank-you note but don’t know where to start? For examples and how-to’s on writing follow-up notes, check out:

6. Make a choice.

If you get accepted for an internship or multiple internships, really think about what this new job will entail. Decide which option best suits you, and whether or not you genuinely plan to pursue it.

It’s okay if you don’t get picked for your first choice. Any internship in the area of your choice is sure to give you experience. Remember that internships are about the skills you develop and the perspective you gain. Take the best chance given to you and do your best!

Internships are a significant part of the college experience. Landing an internship can put you ahead in your studies and provide real-world experience that you can’t get from a lecture. Follow these steps to improve your chances of getting that internship you wanted and move a step closer to reaching your goals.

Be sure to connect with us @ecampusdotcom on Twitter, Instagram, & Facebook for more resources, tips, and some great giveaways! And when it’s time for textbooks, eCampus.com has you covered for all your course material needs at savings up to 90%!

Works Cited

Selling Back Textbooks – Everything You Need to Know

You just finished another semester of college – fantastic! But what can you do with all of those textbooks you purchased that you’ll no longer need? Luckily, selling college textbooks is easier than you may think! Instead of letting your old textbooks gather dust on your shelves, you have quite a few viable options to get quick cash for your books.

What Should I Do with Old Textbooks?

Most colleges with physical bookstores allow students to sell their textbooks back. Is that where you’ll find the best price though? Probably not. 

Savvy students can put more money into their pocket by navigating the online world to get the best prices for their textbooks.

Best Places to Sell Textbooks

1. Sell Your Textbooks to eCampus.com

eCampus.com makes it easy to get cash for your old textbooks at competitive prices. 

How to Sell Old Textbooks:

  1. Get a quote for your books here: Get Quote
  2. Choose your payment method (direct deposit included)
  3. Ship your books to us for free
  4. Sit back, relax, and get paid

It’s really that simple! Selling your used books to eCampus.com gets you top dollar and enables us to pass the savings on to you and other students. Get hassle-free cash for your books quickly by selling to eCampus.com.

2. Sell Your Textbooks to Other Students Online 

When you become a bookseller on the eCampus.com Marketplace, your listings will be visible on eCampus.com for all of our customers to see. We will only claim a 15% commission of each sale that is completed. In addition to the price of your book, you will also receive a shipping credit to help cover the cost of shipping the order.

When your book is sold, eCampus.com will accept and process payments from the buyer on your behalf. We will send you an email letting you know that the book has sold. At this point, all you need to do is ship the book, confirm the order, and provide tracking information for the shipment in your eCampus.com Marketplace account.

3. Sell Your Textbooks Directly to Other Students

Want to do things the old fashioned way? That works too! Post pictures and descriptions of your textbooks on Social Media or other outlets and let the buyers come to you. After all, new students may be taking the same class you did in the upcoming semester. Help them save some money on the textbook and score some cash for yourself.. it’s a win-win!

The main consideration you’ll have to contemplate is: would the time investment required to sell my textbook directly be worth the added effort? If your answer is yes, selling textbooks directly to other students is a fine idea. If the answer is no, other options may be preferable.

4. Use a Textbook Buyback Comparison Tool

There are several websites online that offer tools to help you search multiple sites to find the best price for your textbooks. One example is BookScouter.com. BookScouter helps you sell textbooks for the most money by comparing offers from over 30 book buyback vendors with a single search. Just search the site for your textbook’s ISBN, get a list of websites that are currently purchasing your textbook, and then pick a website to sell to based on prices and customer feedback.

What Determines High Value Books?

If you want to sell your old college textbooks, one essential tip is to sell them as soon as possible. Right after you ensure that you’ve passed your classes and won’t be needing your textbooks any longer, you should be looking to sell them. Textbook prices are sometimes volatile and can drop if a new edition is released or if less schools adopt the book for their classes the following semester. Typically, the more popular a book is (the more schools use them and students need them), the higher the price will be.

It’s also pertinent to keep your textbooks in good condition. Some of the following deficiencies could hinder your ability to sell your textbooks:

  • Excessive writing, marking or highlighting
  • Stains or water damage
  • Missing, torn or loose pages
  • Detached or broken spine

Additionally, when you’re selling textbooks online, it’s extremely important to pack your books carefully when shipping so they are not damaged in transit.

Final Verdict

Let’s be real – it’s 2020. Selling your textbooks doesn’t have to be a pain.  You don’t have to wait in long lines at the campus bookstore, be paid low amounts, or get stuck holding old, unwanted textbooks. Use the options and resources available to you. This will allow you to sell course materials quickly and for a satisfactory price. eCampus.com will always be here for you to make the textbook selling process as easy as possible. If you have any further questions about the eCampus.com buyback program or the eCampus.com Marketplace, feel free to contact an eCampus.com representative here: Contact Us.

Keys to Successful Online Learning

For some of us, online learning is relatively new. For others, it’s the norm. Whatever the case, online learning courses can be a challenge, just like on-site learning. Adjustments include keeping up with the work, using a different medium to learn, and being more responsible for your education without a teacher physically present to manage you. E-learning offers more freedom, but also more opportunity for procrastination and idleness.

I’ve found in my time with online classes that there are three essential aspects to this type of learning: consistency, environment, and focus. With these points in mind, you can better navigate elearning and incorporate it into your life. So, how do you go about that?

Be Consistent

1. Try to follow a routine
Determine what time you will start on your schoolwork. Try to stick with this time every day. If your class begins at 10 AM, try to be ready to work by 10 AM every day. If your classes end at 3, schedule your work time after that. Know what you need to do and prepare to get it done.

Designate time for each of your courses. Think, “I have this [class] at [time]. When can I complete the homework?” Try to get the work done as soon as you can – don’t procrastinate. If you wait to complete your work, it will pile up and become a hindrance. You can designate an hour a day for each course’s work or even a day a week to each class.

Make time for meals. A healthy eating schedule will keep your body’s energy up to work. Find 30-60 minutes between class and study time for lunch. Take your lunch break around the same time every day, if possible.

Set alarms! Watching the clock is discouraging and stressful. Not to mention, it’s easy to forget about the time when you’re deep in focus—set alarms for breaks, lunch, subject changes, and so on.

Here are some free scheduling and time management resources to get a jump start on being consistent: 

  • Microsoft To-Do – A smart daily planner for your personalized lists
  • Todoist – A helpful task manager to sort your work and projects
  • Google Calendar – An easy scheduling tool for appointment and event planning, reminders, and goal setting.

2. Establish a workspace
Choose a dedicated space. Having this space to work in will ease the transition from relaxation to work and will train your brain to understand that workspace = working.

Keep work and relaxation separate. Establishing a study space is key to cementing your mind space for tasks. If you work in the same place you relax, getting into the mindset to work can be difficult. Moreover, you might feel the stress that comes with working while trying to relax.

Study where you like. There is no “best place” to study. You can study in your room, the living room, the dining table, etc. Once we’re allowed outside again,  libraries, cafes, and parks work just as well (given the proper safety precautions are followed). It’s not about where you work, but what you do to create the optimal learning environment.

TIP: For more on how to establish a study space,  check out  @collegeinfogeek’s blog post: https://collegeinfogeek.com/create-study-space/

Set the Scene

1. Remove distractions
Minimize interruptions. Whether it’s your phone or your pets, do what you can to reduce their distraction level. Silence your texts, leave your pets in another room, let the people you live with know not to disturb you. Make your work your primary focus. If you have trouble staying off your phone, set screen time on your phone to limit the use of distracting apps.

TIP: Consider setting up screen time monitoring on your mobile device.

Here’s how:

iPhone Screen time

Android Screen time

Complete other tasks beforehand. Before starting your work on your online classes, finish chores, fun errands, and avoid making disruptive plans. You can even set aside to complete these other tasks later. Stopping halfway through working because you forgot to wash the dishes or walk the dog is a slippery slope to leaving your work incomplete. It’s easy to find reasons to get off task, but try not to throw off your study groove!

Remember: you know yourself better than others. During your study time, try to do what’s best for you. What do you think will distract you? What do you think will help you? Distractions and aids are different for everyone, so don’t feel the need to conform to one idea of studying. Be honest with yourself about what will increase your productivity and what will not.

2. Have easy access to everything you need before you start
Determine what you need for your task. Think about your methods of studying. Use a consistent and reliable means of studying, whether it’s your computer or handwritten notes, physical textbooks, or ebooks. Have organization tools to keep you organized, and aids to improve your focus and memory. 

Lay out all of your materials. How can you effectively organize your workspace? Be conscious of which hand is your dominant hand. Have any flashcards or notes at hand. If you’re anything like me (easily distracted) untangle your earbuds and bookmark websites for when you need them.  Keep your space neat and orderly.

3. Set Goals
Determine what you want to achieve. Do you want to take thorough notes for your classes? Finish that essay you’ve been working on? Set goals for what you need to or would like to accomplish, but be realistic. SMART Goals are an excellent example of goal setting. SMART Goals are “Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Bound” goals.

Ex:

  • Goal: Complete my project.
  • SMART Goal: Within two weeks,  I will work to finish a Slides presentation on The Iliad by Homer for my Lit class.

TIP: Ready to create your own SMART goals? Check out this resource.

Recognize your achievements. Don’t dwell on what you couldn’t do. Instead, focus on what you’ve accomplished and make a plan to try again with things that didn’t work out. Big or small, your achievements are worth recognition.

Reward yourself. Rewards can push you toward your goals as a means of motivation. When you set goals, make sure the rewards match.

  • Ex 1: Your assigned reading can be worth a fifteen-minute break. 
  • Ex 2: Finishing the work for one class can be worth one episode of your favorite show.

Get To It – Skills Needed for Online Learning

1. Taking an Active Role
Take notes. Notes reinforce what you’ve learned and help make sense of information. Note-taking can provide breakthroughs and better memory recall in connection to your topic.

TIP: Wondering how to take effective class notes? Check out @collegeinfogeek’s ideas on note-taking here.

Ask questions. Whether it’s asking your professor or the internet, asking questions is vital to your understanding. Don’t be afraid to speak up if you become lost or just curious.

Connect with other students. Your fellow students can offer insight into your lessons and exchange points with you. A different perspective can change how you view a topic and enlighten you on points you may have missed.

2. Review
Re-read your lesson materials. Powerpoints and textbooks might seem boring, but going over them for a second or even third time can only increase your understanding of the subject. Re-writing and re-organizing notes can make them clearer and help with memorization. It also gives you time to write notes on points you remember from class as well as questions and ideas.

3. Study Aids
Take time to make or find aids and tools that will assist with your learning. Flashcards, online quizzes, post-it notes, and audiobooks are all examples of study aids. Having the online learning tools at your disposal to absorb content effectively can only make studying easier. Choose study aids that will benefit you. Not all aids work for everyone, so experiment with them and use the best fits.

TIP: There are lots of FREE study tools out there. Try out some of these user-friendly study resources: 

  • Quizlet – Flashcards, quizzes, and memory games, Quizlet is a favorite online learning game among students.
  • Padlet – Mind maps, timelines, and collages for easy organization of ideas of resources.
  • Grammarly – A writing tool that corrects grammar and critiques work.

5. Breaks
Find time for a break. Between classes, have a quick snack, take a moment to think and review, you can even nap. Give yourself time to absorb what you’ve learned and recharge before your next class or task.

When studying, try to take a short break every 20-40 minutes. Most small to medium tasks can be accomplished in this 20-40 minute window, and the break gives you a chance to step back and review what you’ve done or just take a breather.

Short breaks are best at 5-15 minutes. Extended breaks can be 25+ minutes, but are less frequent given their length. Some students use their break time productively by finishing other tasks, while others use breaks as downtime to rest and recharge. How you use your breaks is up to you!

Online education doesn’t have to feel like an impossible task. The right routine, space, and tools can be a simple and accessible way to learn. With incorporating some of these successful qualities of an online student, you might even find elearning preferable to on-site learning. Just know that it is possible. Remember, we’re all in this together!  

Be sure to connect with us @ecampusdotcom on Twitter, Instagram, & Facebook for more resources, tips, and some great giveaways! And when it’s time for textbooks, eCampus.com has you covered for all your course material needs at savings up to 90%! 

Works Cited