College can be hard. To some people, passing their college course can seem like the hardest thing they’ve ever had to do. This is especially true for those studying part-time, or from home via distance learning.

As a student, some days you might find yourself thinking: ‘studying is not for me,’ or ‘I’m just too tired to continue’ as you contemplate throwing in the towel. But don’t give up just yet! You just have to work a little smarter, and a little harder, and keep yourself motivated.

To help you with all of those things, here are 8 secrets to passing your college course:

1) Take a course that you are truly interested in.

This is the most important factor when it comes to passing your college course. There is nothing that makes studying harder than not really being interested in the subject. If you find the work interesting, you will derive much more pleasure from studying – and succeeding will suddenly become significantly easier!

Need help choosing your course? Talk to one of our Student Advisors to get the assistance you need.

If you really want to do something, you will find a way

2) Always start earlier than you actually need to.

Even if you have months left to complete an assignment, or to start studying for an exam, do a little bit of the work as soon as possible. This is a great way to help you complete your course for 2 reasons:

  • People often find it easier to put off work that they haven’t started yet. That first step is always the most difficult to take — like jumping into a cold swimming pool. But if you started weeks or months ago already, finishing the work suddenly becomes much easier.
  • Managing a demanding workload also becomes much easier and less stress-inducing when you start early on each assignment or task. It prevents the work from heaping up, and you can rest assured knowing that you have done a little bit of work for each assignment already.

Whether it’s typing an introduction, or starting your research, you will find that your coursework seems much more manageable if you start long in advance.

3) Don’t waste time.

It doesn’t help putting in 10 hours of studying a day, when it isn’t 10 hours well spent. Rather focus on concentrating 100% when you are studying, than trying to study for an impressive number of hours.

Studying for a long time will only exhaust you and demotivate you, particularly if you aren’t getting the results you thought you would. Concentrate on the quality of the time that you spend on your studies, rather than the duration.

4) Keep at it, even if it feels like you are going nowhere slowly.

It can be highly discouraging if your studies are taking longer than you expected. But remember: slowly but surely, you will get there, even if it takes you years. You will get there and it will be worth it!

Remember the saying: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

If you can't fly then run - Martin Luther King Jr Quote


5) Work when you are most active.

Especially if you are studying part-time, it can often feel like your day job takes all your energy and that you have nothing left for studying.

Try to find your most energised time of day, and use it to study. For some, waking up early to study before work is a great option, as the mind feels rested and refreshed. For others, studying after some afternoon exercise is ideal, as they feel awake and rejuvenated.

Sometimes the best time to study is actually right after you get home from work, before you start relaxing. The break you take between finishing work and getting home might be just enough to re-energise you for a quick study session before you start winding down for the evening.

Find that time of day where you have a little energy to spare and use it to get work done!

Also read: How to Take Effective Study Breaks

Action is the foundational key to all success - Pablo Picasso


6) Get rid of the distractions.

This might seem like an obvious tip, but it is one of the biggest pitfalls of today’s students. We live in an overstimulating culture that makes us get bored very easily. So switch off your phone and log out of Facebook during designated study time! (Remember the 100% concentration tip?)

And just as important: do not start a new television series the week before an exam or an assignment due date! As silly as it might seem, this might make the difference between you failing and passing your college course. Rather keep the new series as a reward for when you’ve completed your exams or assignments.

7) Approach the same information in different ways.

If you are struggling with getting through the work, committing information to memory, or understanding something difficult, then approach the work in different ways. You can:

  • Look online for different or additional information on your specific topic.
  • Talk to a working professional or expert in your field of study.
  • Ask someone else to read the section and explain it to you in their own words.
  • Read the work out loud.
  • Try summarising an entire section in one sentence.

These methods can help you understand and internalise the information as you use different brain pathways to process it.

8) Incentivise yourself.

For each task you have to complete for your course, or each chapter you have to work through, set up a reward for yourself. It can be a nice meal, a movie, or even just some time in front of the TV.

You should also set yourself a big fat reward for finishing your course completely! Having something to look forward to will help you power through.

But more than any material reward you can think of, you should always keep your eye on the real prize: finishing your course. Constantly remind yourself why you are in this, and what you will get when you are finished.

Each time you feel like giving up, remember that once you have finished your college course, you will be able to get a better job, earn more money, lead a better life, or provide for your family. Hold on to that each time you feel like giving up!

Also read: Study Hacks for Distance Learning Students