Lessons of Distance Learning

You can become a successful distance learning student, but it won’t happen by accident. Although I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve not always implemented these tips perfectly, that doesn’t change the fact that they are effective and powerful tools. As a new semester starts, I encourage you to try them out for yourself, whether you are fully online or only taking a couple classes virtually!

Enjoy Something for Its Own Sake

In The Screwtape Letters, a satirical novel about demons trying to tempt a human away from God, C.S. Lewis writes: “The man who truly and disinterestedly enjoys any one thing in the world, for its own sake, and without caring twopence what other people say about it, is by that very fact forearmed against some of our subtlest modes of attack” (The Screwtape Letters, pg. 60).

What sort of music you would listen to, what genre of books you would read and what kind of food you would eat if the opinions of others didn’t matter? Explore these things as a distance learning student! I mention food as an example because I’ve built a set of recipes I enjoy, and it’s been a delight to explore new foods. You have unique opportunities to plan meals for yourself, patronize your local library and attend concerts in your town that other students don’t always have access to.

Find a Church Home

All the academic success in the world will do you little good if your spiritual life is neglected, and this is why I believe the college years — whether you’re 18 or 58 — are a great time to make sure you’re faithfully attending a church that you’ve found a home in.      

Aside from the spiritual fulfillment, you’ll find a community of like-minded folks who can offer friendship, mentorship and support when classes and life get tough. Plus, it’s a fantastic place for volunteering opportunities. 

Optimize Your Study Space — For Studying

I’d also heartily recommend considering how the space you use for studying can be improved. And I don’t mean from an interior decorating perspective — what distance learning students need to optimize is their ability to study. It’s harder to find quiet spaces filled with similarly-focused individuals when you’re not living on Regent’s campus, so thinking through the elements of your personal desk is especially important. 

Keep essential items within reach, and figure out if having your phone on hand is helpful or a hindrance. Consider whether your furniture is ergonomic. A small investment can make a world of difference! For example, when I found out I’d be transitioning from in-person classes to distance learning, I spent about $30 on a USB camera with much better video quality than my laptop. It was worth every penny! No matter which areas of your life can use the most attention, the time you spend as a distance learning student is a great chance to develop as an individual and design the schedule and lifestyle you feel called to. Spending time in your church, studying effectively and enjoying something for its own sake are all excellent places to start!