There's no doubt that studying from home, much like working from home, is attractive to many people and increasingly more common. As our economy continues to struggle, more layoffs often mean more people are working part time or improving their skills with more education. For a number of people, both working and studying from home is an important option.
It must be said that distance education, like telecommuting, requires one very important condition for people to be successful: effective time management. While taking an online class eliminates the rigidity of a class schedule and the requirements that assignments and lessons be completed within a certain time period, it does require self discipline.
The best bet is to block out time each day for your course; this is when you'll log onto your computer and begin your lesson. It's also when you'll do assignments and work on required reading, if necessary. During that time it's important not to answer the phone, watch TV or check your email. Think of it this way: if you were in a traditional classroom you would never entertain these kinds of distractions - treat your distance education class with the same level of respect.
Another important way to ensure success is to set up an area, preferably with a desk, that is your "study area." When you go and sit down in this area, you will be focusing exclusively on your course. Understandably not all people have the space to reserve an area just for studying, but avoid taking your laptop to the couch and logging onto your class while the television is on and your family members are coming in and out of the room.
When you sign up for a traditional class at a local school, there is a fixed class schedule and neither you nor the teacher can modify it at will. The same should apply for your distance education class - keep the same schedule for yourself as much as you can. If, for example, your sister can come over to your house on Monday, Wednesday and Sunday nights to babysit your son, that should become the time you grab your laptop and head into the bedroom to study without interruption.
The advantage of distance education is that you can "attend class" at any hour of the day or week. Some people get their work done early in the morning, others at night, while some can only manage to do bits and pieces here and there; whatever your schedule dictates, it is important to stick to it.
Effective time management can provide the means you need to succeed as a distance education student. If you pace yourself, study regularly and complete assignments in a timely manner, you will find it easier to stay on track and complete your course on time. Being a responsible student is necessary for any type of education; however in distance education, it is a vital component of success.