5 Biggest Distance Learning Struggles and How to Overcome Them

Learning Struggles
Athina Hansen

Athina Hansen

Content Writer at Gradehacker

So, you’re reading this article because you are facing distance learning struggles. 

You may have been forced to engage in distance learning because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Or maybe you made the personal decision to engage in online learning, but due to being so used to in-person learning, you have distance learning struggles and find it difficult to adapt.

No matter the reason as to why you’re currently distance learning, online learning can present some challenges that in-person learning does not.

If not all of us, many will be faced with distance learning struggles when we make the transition to online learning. 

You may have been happy with the fact that online learning would give you a lot more freedom and time flexibility. But now that you’re actually distance learning, you’re doubting your decision. 

That’s because many of us are so used to in-person learning due to our elementary and secondary school years. 

Gradehacker is and has been a reliable source of assistance and information for non-traditional college students for years. Most of our clients are enrolled in online college programs, and many have voiced their distance learning struggles.

That is why in this article, we will be covering 5 of the biggest and most common distance learning struggles and how to overcome them. After reading this article, you will be able to thrive and succeed with distance learning.

Distance learning

1. Distractions, distractions, and MORE distractions

Without a doubt, one of the biggest distance learning struggles is distractions. Yes, of course, that doesn’t mean that you won’t get distracted in an on-campus setting. 

We have all experienced those days where you tune out what your professor is saying and instead fill your notebook’s pages with doodles!

A college classroom is a space that is fully dedicated to learning; there are no visual or auditory distractions.

Online learning, however, takes place at home or in a personal space which means you can experience a lot more distractions. 

For example, maybe your kitchen table is your online learning spot; however, you have your T.V. nearby and often fall prey to this distraction. 

Or maybe, you have kids, and their loud playing often distracts you. 

Mother Distracted

How to overcome it:

To overcome this distance learning struggle, you have to be smart. 

The best thing you can do is have a designated learning spot that is quiet and does not have distractions like a T.V. or iPad nearby. 

Try to avoid learning in places like your bedroom. 

You can also try to be fully aware of your surroundings and the times where there will be most distractions. 

For example, you may have kids who go to school, so you can allocate these hours to your online learning and minimize distractions.

Or, if there are no hours in which you can find solitude, simply plan a set time where you will complete your online learning and share it with the members you’re living with. That way, they know not to barge in the room during these hours.

2. Staying Motivated

Another big distance learning struggle is maintaining your motivation related to college. Many students find themselves lacking the motivation to stay ahead of their assignments with distance learning.

You may be wondering, why does this happen? Well, with on-campus learning, you have a set timetable where you must attend classes. You don’t have to worry about maintaining an effective learning pace because your professor is the one in charge of doing so.

Also, with on-campus learning, many of us are pushed to complete our assignments on time because otherwise, we’ll have to face our professor’s disappointment face to face.

However, with distance learning, you are responsible for keeping up to date with your learning. And won’t have a professor reminding you to finish that assignment in person. 

Also, maybe you don’t see your home as a productive environment, which can have a serious impact on your motivation for getting things done.

Woman learning

How to overcome it:

To stay motivated in your online college journey, the most important step is to begin seeing your house as a work environment as well.

To change this mindset, you should find a tranquil spot where you can be productive. 

Also, try making a schedule each week where you plan out what college tasks you will be completing that week and on which days you will be completing them.

This will allow you to stay on track and make sure you complete what you need to each day. Otherwise, you can very easily fall behind!

Another helpful step is to keep your end goal in mind! Don’t forget about why you’re studying in the first place.

You can write down why you are pursuing your career and your short and long-term goals. Then place these reasons and goals somewhere you will see them.

Cross out your goals once you achieve them; this will give you a sense of accomplishment and further boost your motivation. 

Lastly, it would help if you tried to involve yourself in your studies as much as you can. Interact with your classmates and contact your professors when you need to. This will help keep college in your mind.

Also, it would be best if you made it a daily habit to check course updates and discussions.

3. Technical Issues

One struggle that is exclusive to online learning is technical issues! Sadly, technical issues can arise when you least expect them.

Your wifi may stop working one day. Or maybe, out of nowhere, your computer shuts down, and it’s not turning back on.

It happens to the best of us! And these technical issues can be stressful, especially when your whole college career relies on your computer and wifi working correctly.

technical issues

How to overcome it:

Technical issues are out of our control, so the most important part is not to freak out! 

When these issues occur, you should reach out to your professor to explain your situation. Your professor will understand that it is out of control and should be understanding and lenient with you.

As much as it’d be awesome to maintain a streak of no technical issues during your online learning journey, the truth is, technical issues will occur!

You won’t be the only one they happen to! If your college has technical support services, this will be a great resource for you when these issues arise.

4. Some Students Feeling Left Behind

With on-campus learning, your professor will adjust the speed of their teaching or explanations based on students’ body language, questions, etc.

However, as there is no face-to-face interaction with online learning, your teacher may speed through explanations without knowing that students didn’t understand.

Some students may also shy away from asking questions and stay silent even if they don’t understand in an online setting. 

This can mean that once the class is over, you’ll feel left behind and more confused than ever!

Or maybe your online program doesn’t involve scheduled class meetings, which gives you even less of a chance to communicate your lack of understanding about a unit or subject.

zoom meeting

How to overcome it:

Many students feel more nervous or less confident to ask their professors questions in an online setting, especially if you’ve been forced to endure distance learning due to the pandemic.

However, you should make raising questions or reaching out to your professors via email a habit. By asking questions as soon as your doubt arises, you will prevent falling even more behind and feeling overwhelmed.

5. Lack of Social Interaction

Last on the list of distance learning struggles is the obvious lack of social interaction that comes with online learning.

Unlike on-campus learning, where you can talk to your classmates in person and ask them what the professor just said because you weren’t paying attention, with online learning, you can’t do that!

It can be more difficult to establish connections with your peers. Also, it can be challenging not to be able to ask your professor a question in person and receive an answer instantly.

The lack of social interaction can cause some students to feel disconnected and discouraged with their careers. 

Social Distance

How to overcome it:

Instead of becoming discouraged, try to form connections with peers due to the online setting. Take advantage of any spaces you have available to connect with both your peers and professors.

You should engage in interaction as much as you can, given the online environment. Be active in class discussions by responding to your peers and getting to know them. 

If you have an inconvenience or doubt reach out to your professor in the spaces you have available.

It will be rewarding to actually get to know your classmates and professors instead of only recognizing their online presence.

You can even acquire an online friend with whom you can discuss assignments or classes with.

It is Normal to Struggle With Distance Learning!

Not everything is rainbows and butterflies; sooner or later, you will encounter one of these distance learning struggles.

However, you should keep in mind that you’re not alone in struggling with these aspects. In-person learning is so ingrained in us since we were young, making the transition to online learning difficult.

However, just because you find the transition difficult doesn’t mean you should give up on it or that your decision to undergo online learning is the wrong one.

You should know that you just need to get familiar with and adapt to this learning style. And once you get the hang of it, you will finally begin to see the benefits of online learning.

Use these tips in your distance learning journey, and you will thrive!

We understand how disheartening it can be to encounter any of these distance learning struggles. However, we hope that after reading this article, you will overcome these struggles and have a successful college experience!

Are you in the process of deciding between online learning or on-campus learning, but you are scared that one is easier? Check out our article Are Online Classes Easier than In-Person Classes?

If you struggle with creating an ideal study environment in your home, check out our article on 6 Ways to Create an Ideal Study Environment.

Are your textbooks pricey and not in your budget? Be sure to read our article on 7 Top Websites to Find Free College Textbooks in 2021.

Athina Hansen

Athina Hansen

Athina has worked with Gradehacker both as a content writer and a study consultant, where she assisted college students with nursing courses. Athina has a background of educating others and producing content, having tutored college students and produced articles for her school magazine. She brings her experience to her current role, where she writes content to empower and assist the non-traditional college student who is often overlooked. You can find her on LinkedIn

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