StudyLink logoHome
Students on a university campus

Top 10 Tips for Online Learning

Lady at laptop

With an increasing number of international students enrolling in online courses each year, the distance learning system has emerged as a fantastic alternative to traditional on-campus learning since the covid pandemic hit in 2020.

The rise of software such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams has been another reason why so many universities worldwide now offer an extremely wide range of courses as distance learning programs.

There are many tips and suggestions that you will find useful when taking an online degree programme. Read on to find out the top 10 tips for studying online and distance learning for international students!

Take a look at our Online Learning directory to see what courses are available online.

1. Ensure You Have Good Internet Access

Many professors prefer to use video-based software like Zoom or Microsoft Teams to teach courses at universities. Such software requires reliable access to the internet, without which you could find course videos lagging, and it might make it more difficult to focus on lectures and webcam discussions.

An extra wi-fi modem or signal booster can prove very useful for international students. If there are problems with the internet at your residence, you can always try nearby cyber cafes, libraries or coffee shops, which usually offer reliable high-speed internet.

2. Create a Focused and Stress-free Study Space

It is very important that you decide on an area within your house where you can set up your study equipment, wi-fi modem, desk lamps and other tools in order to have a focused space for high-quality academic growth. If you are studying in cafes or outdoor areas, this task can become tougher, but some people enjoy working around others.

But it is important that you are well-prepared and focused only on academics when you are attending online courses as an international student, similar to attending an on-campus class.

3. Confirm Equipment Requirements for Each Course

While most online courses will simply require a basic computer and wi-fi setup, some courses in scientific and computer-related fields will need specific equipment for distance learning.

For instance, video editing and graphic design courses will require computers with high-end graphics cards, and courses in data science will require computers with large amounts of free memory. You should make sure that you have all required equipment before enrolling in a course.

You will be able to find lots of information about what equipment requirements may be relevant to your course either by visiting the course webpage or getting in contact with your university of choice.

4. Set a Schedule and Stick to It

There will be many classes which will be held live over video software like Zoom, and so you must attend such classes at a specified time. But there are also many distance learning courses which you can complete on your own time. In the case of such courses, you should mark a time in the day when you can study the course, and you should try and stick to this schedule on a regular basis. This will allow you to improve focus on the course material and benefit your time management skills.

5. Take Part in Virtual Course Discussions

You should also make sure to participate in virtual discussions related to your course alongside lectures. In addition to helping you interact with your fellow classmates from around the world, participating in discussions will help you learn better and faster than if you were to only study the prescribed course material and watching lectures. Communicating with other people can also broaden your horizons both inside and outside of the virtual classroom.

6. Take Regular Study Breaks

Working or watching video-based content on a computer for too long can prove harmful for your eyes and overall productivity. It is important to take a break during long lecture videos, and it can be really nice to take a short walk around your house or neighbourhood in between study sessions (if this is possible) to clear your mind, and regain focus for the next set of online lectures.

7. Use Online Tools & Resources

When studying a distance learning course, international students can find it more difficult to understand a certain concept or find the correct material for an assignment. In such cases, it is important that you know how to access the wide variety of online resources that are available to you.

For example, using an online maths tutoring website can help you understand difficult statistical and mathematical concepts online, whereas the online writing centre website run by your university can help improve your writing and allow you to get excellent grades on your papers.

8. Join or Create Study Groups with your virtual Classmates

It can be difficult to adapt to the changed style of learning in distance learning courses as an international student. If you are finding it difficult to stay on top of your online courses and assignments, you should consider contacting a few of your virtual classmates to create an online study group, and communicate via whatsapp or other platforms.

Being part of a study group will allow you to effectively revise course material, have your doubts cleared by your peers, be more engaged with the course and find the support you need to do your best in the online learning course.

9. Limit Social Media

Unlike an on-campus class, you can find yourself distracted by social media notifications popping up on your computer, tablet or phone screen as you are watching distance learning course lectures and participating in virtual class discussions. It can be useful to block any non-work related notifications while studying, so as to not get distracted from your academic material and waste precious time on other platforms while studying.

10. Find ways to stay motivated

When you have spent hours every day studying distance learning courses on your computer without the interactions you would get in an on-campus class, you can often start losing focus and motivation regarding your academic program.

This loss of motivation can lead to poor time management and delays in submission of course assignments, which will in turn cause your work to get lower grades and then that will lower your motivation again.

It is very important to not get caught in this vicious cycle by making sure that you are highly motivated and looking forward to your virtual classes every day as an international student.

You should take regular study breaks, remove distractions like social media, and discuss your academic progress with friends & family as you become more familiar with the online learning style.

Related topics

Search for courses now

International study advice

Read our key advice article to help you make the best decision for your education and start your International study adventure.

Person holding a compass
How to choose the ideal study destination for you

In this article we look at how to approach choosing where in the world you would like to study.

World map on a blackboard
Deciding to study abroad: The first steps

Read StudyLink's suggestions on your first steps when deciding where to study abroad, with helpful tips to make your decision easier.

Students reading a book
English Language Testing for International Students

Find out more about English language tests, your options and what is required as an overseas student.

Lady holding bank notes
How much does it really cost to study abroad in 2024? take a detailed look into the costs of studying abroad and all the aspects that you should budget for when embarking on your studies.

A visa document
10 Common Student Visa Question

We answer 10 common questions about applying for a student visa to help make your visa application quick and easy.

A visa document and a world map
International Study Visas

Find out more about international student visas for studying abroad, as well as how, where and when to apply for yours.

A piggy bank with coins
Funding and Scholarships for International Students

Find out more about funding and scholarships for international students, and what financial assistance might be available to you.

Person selecting a book from a shelf
How to choose the right course for you

How to choose a course that fits you? Check our top tips on choosing which course is best for you to help you make an informed decision.

See more international study advice

Sign up to

Sign up to, the home of quality study abroad advice.

Sign up now
Students with books and test tubes
Search for courses