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How to Get the Most Out of Self-study Courses

Updated on August 4, 2016

If you are reading this, you no doubt want to improve yourself. I'm always looking to get better at what I do. I'm also eager to learn new things or better ways to do things. I've bought books and uploaded free study courses online. Some of those books never did anything but collect dust. Some of that wonderful course material I've downloaded is sitting in my hard drive occupying memory and doing nothing more. You might be doing the same thing.

Can anyone afford to waste time or money these days? I can't. If you want to make the most of your self-study, there are three things to consider and implement from the very beginning.


Set Aside a Specific Time to Study

I had a dream to write a novel one day. A lot of people have that same dream and most of them never get there. When I decided to do something about it, I bought a book. The book was titled “The Weekend Novelist” by Robert J Ray. Great book and for me a great starting point. That book did not just sit on my shelf. Not only did I read it but I did some of the exercises in it. After that, I kind of lost my way again. Eventually, I did get frustrated with my own inertia and committed to working daily to produce my first rough draft manuscript. There were a lot of twists and turns to the story, but the bottom line is I'm a published author. My book “Let Sleeping Dogs Lie” is available on Amazon and other sources. I'm currently working on two other manuscripts in the same series.

The key for me was working at it daily. I work better with a routine and my time to write and polish was first thing in the morning. That might not work for everyone. The important thing is to make the time to do the work at the same time you purchase the book or download the course. Otherwise don't even bother to get the program. Chances are it will sit untouched and those dreams will remain dreams and nothing more.

My current schedule is all over the place. Sometimes I work early in the morning and sometimes late in the evening. I will admit that I do better with a regular routine. You might be the same. If the course is worth your time though you need to set aside a specific time in your schedule preferably daily.

I have found that this is the most important part of making my self-study efforts count. It doesn't matter what the course is about or how long it will take. If I do this first step the rest is easy.


Don't Forget to Review What You've Learned

How many times have you read some study material and forgotten most of it within a few days? You're not alone. Most people don't retain everything the first time. It isn't that you aren't paying attention well enough. I might not be the fault of the person who authored the material. It might not have anything to do with the way the course is presented. I might have to do with all of the above or none of the above. If you want to remember what you are learning, none of those things has to be a problem.

Do you want to improve how well you retain the knowledge you worked hard to find and study? Review. Simple as that.

There are many ways to review but here's what works best for me. Right after I complete a study session or section I recap what I just learned. Within twenty-four hours, I go over it all again. Before the week is out, I go over everything a third time. From there, I will review before putting the lesson in practice or writing a test. This helps my knowledge retention immensely.


Implement What You Have Learned

As soon as you can, make use of your new knowledge or skill. I'm a very hands-on person. I learn well enough reading and studying. I do better yet watching someone else in action. Best though is for me to do it myself. Most people I've worked with are the same.

I'm assuming that you took the course or signed up for the program because you wanted to benefit from it. If you don't use it, you won't benefit from it. That's pretty straightforward.

You want to gain the most from self-study programs. Remember these three points before you start. Once you've taken the plunge, follow through with all three points and you will get the most out of your self-study time.


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    • YoKingsLy profile image

      Hafidz Hazaki 21 months ago from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

      But again, you will still not go far if you self study no matter how discipline you are. What if you get stuck and have nobody to help you? You still need a teacher or someome which is better than you at what you're studying.

    • Pico Triano profile image

      John 21 months ago from New Brunswick, Canada

      True enough but that's not the point of this article. Self-study isn't for everyone. Some courses offer a helpline to help overcome those types of impasse.

    • Pico Triano profile image

      John 21 months ago from New Brunswick, Canada

      On re-reading that comment. I'm going to respectfully disagree with our statement. There a lot of self-taught success stories out there. To imply that self-study is a waste of effort is not constructive and I believe incorrect.

    • theraggededge profile image

      Bev 21 months ago from Wales

      Have to agree with you, Pico. I have learned loads via self-study. Most courses do offer contact details, or you can find a FaceBook group or a web-page to help.

    • Pico Triano profile image

      John 21 months ago from New Brunswick, Canada

      Thanks for the comment theraggededge. I think a lot of people have learned from self-study. I have as well.

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