5 Biggest Distance Learning Struggles and How to Overcome Them

Learning Struggles
Athina Hansen

Athina Hansen

Content Writer at Gradehacker

Updated on August 2022

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

But don’t worry; you are not alone!

Since the coronavirus pandemic, many non-traditional students were forced to engage in online distance learning classes for the first time in their lives.

Whether it was for the lack of human interaction or due to the difference with the traditional in-person learning format, hundreds of students developed distance learning struggles and still find it difficult to adapt.

But this isn’t new!

Distance learning programs weren’t invented for students to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic; they have been around for a while. And while it may present many challenges for students, the good news is that once you overcome them, you will see the great benefits of virtual learning.

Here at Gradehacker, we are the non-traditional student’s most trusted resource.

We have lots of experience working with distance education programs, and we know first-hand how easy it can be to struggle with them. Most of our clients are enrolled in online college programs, and many reach out to us to share their distance learning struggles.

That’s why here we’ll cover 5 of the biggest and most common distance learning struggles and how you can overcome them.

After reading this article, you will be able to thrive and succeed with online education.

Distance learning struggles

1) Distractions, Distractions, And MORE Distractions

Without a doubt, one of the biggest distance learning struggles is distractions.

Yes, of course, this doesn’t mean that you won’t get distracted in a traditional classroom setting. We have all experienced the days where you tune out what your professor is saying and instead fill your notebook’s pages with doodles!

Still, a physical classroom is a fully dedicated space for learning; there are no visual or auditory distractions.

On the contrary, remote learning takes place at home or in a personal space, which means you can experience many more distractions.

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

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

Distance learning Struggles

How to overcome it:

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

The best thing you can do is have a designated learning spot that is quiet and doesn’t have distractions like a TV or iPad nearby. Avoid learning in places like your bedroom; you won’t want to study close to your bed.

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

For example, you may have kids who go to school during the morning. If you are available, plan a morning routine and use those hours with minimum distractions to continue your remote learning.

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

If you are not sure how you can create your ideal study environment, be sure to check this out!

2) Staying Motivated

Another big distance learning struggle is the lack of motivation. Many students lose the energy to stay ahead of their assignments with distance learning.

You may be wondering why this happens.

Well, with on-campus learning, you have a set schedule where you must attend classes. It is a safe learning environment where you don’t have to worry about maintaining an effective learning pace because your professor is in charge of that.

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 seriously impact your motivation for getting things done.

Distance learning struggles

How to overcome it:

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

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

Also, make a daily 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 do 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 where you will see them. Cross out your goals once you achieve them, as 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 possible.

Interact with your classmates, contact your professors when needed, and constantly check for course updates and discussions. This will help keep college in your mind.

If this is a common struggle and you’d like to incorporate more helpful tips into your life, you can learn how to stay motivated throughout the year!

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 and suddenly lose your internet connection. Or maybe your computer shuts down out of nowhere, and doesn’t turn back on.

It happens to the best of us!

These technical issues can be stressful, especially when your whole college journey relies on your computer working correctly and having uninterrupted internet access.

Distance learning struggles

How to overcome it:

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

You should reach out to your online teacher to explain your situation when these issues occur. Your professor will understand that it is out of your 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 it happens to! If your college has technical support services, this will be a great online resource for you when these issues arise.

4) Some Students Feel 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 online learning has no face-to-face human interaction, 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 a virtual 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 involves asynchronous learning, which gives you even less of a chance to communicate your lack of understanding about a unit or subject.

Distance Learning Struggles

How to overcome it:

Many students feel more nervous or less confident in asking their professors questions online.

However, you should raise questions or reach out to your professor through your virtual classroom or email.

By asking questions as soon as your doubt arises, you will prevent falling behind even more and feeling overwhelmed.

5) Lack of Social Interaction

Last on the list; we have one of the biggest challenges of distance learning: the lack of social interaction.

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.

This poor social aspect of distance learning can cause some students to feel disconnected and discouraged with their careers, which usually contributes to the lack of motivation.

Distance Learning Struggles

How to overcome it:

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

You should interact as much as possible, 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.

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 has been 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 wrong. You just need to get familiar with it and adapt to the online format.

And once you get the hang of it, you will finally begin to see the advantages of online learning, just like the time management benefits!

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 can overcome these struggles and have a successful college experience!

Remember that if you continue struggling, you can reach out to Gradehacker and ask for help. We have experience assisting students like you with their classes and essays, and we’ll be happy to help you too!

If you are looking for more tips to facilitate your online learning experience, check out these related blog posts:

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