What to Do When You Need Some Peace and Quiet

by South University 26 July 2014

Finding a quiet and distraction-free place to study is one of the most common study tips you probably hear. But what if you can’t find the perfect study space? If you’re having trouble focusing because you’re interrupted by roommates, your kids or even your own wandering mind, don’t stress ─ there are many ways to solve this problem.


You don’t have to go to a silent library to get the most out of your study session. Instead, you simply need to know how to make the best of the space you have, whether it’s a coffee shop, home office or even a small space in the kitchen. Sometimes you just have to get a little creative.

1: Claim Your Territory

Find a room or space in your house and make sure everyone in your home knows that it will become your study space. If you are in a room where you can close the door, put a sign on it to indicate that you are studying so everyone knows not to disturb you. If your study space is the dining room table, find something to put on the table or hang from your chair that tells everyone you are studying, so they know not to distract you.

2: Get Rid of as Many Distractions as Possible

Turn your phone off completely or turn notification and text message sounds off so you can still receive phone calls if needed. Log out of everything on your computer that you don’t need for studying - i.e. Facebook, instant message services, email, etc. You might be surprised at how productive you are by completely eliminating all distractions. While it doesn’t take long to read a text message or post a Facebook status update, it breaks your concentration, making it difficult to get back on track.

3: Play Music with No Lyrics

If a completely quiet study space is not possible, try putting on music with no lyrics to help you tune out other distractions. Classical music is often recommended, as it is relaxing and peaceful, helping you to focus. While listening to a mix of your favorite tracks might be more fun, there’s a good chance you’ll want to focus more on the music than your coursework, which defeats the purpose. If possible, listen to your music with a good pair of noise-cancelling headphones to help you block out the world around you!

4: Anticipate Future Needs before Starting to Study

Think about what you or anyone in your home will need while you are studying so you can take care of it before you get started. Will you need a drink or snack while you’re studying? Maybe your kids will want a snack or to watch a movie? Does your roommate always seem to lose the TV remote as soon as you sit down to study? You’ll be less likely to be interrupted if you can fulfill these needs before you start studying. After taking care of these tasks, make it clear that you’re not available for the next hour or two, as you’ll be busy with schoolwork.

5 Ways to Study Smarter

by South University 1 May 2014

Whether you are in pursuit of your bachelor's degree or well on your way to achieving a master's, it's never too late to learn how to study smarter. While each student needs to find his or her own recipe for studying success, some basic tenets will help you avoid distractions and ineffective time management. Here are five things to consider integrating into your study habits so that you can keep your education on track and ace your next test or assignment.

Books to study1. Unplug

When Internet research can't be avoided and a connection is required for online classes, detaching from the online world might seem impossible. Still, it's wise to turn off as many electronic devices as possible and log out of social media sites even when you are online. Losing just a few seconds here and there as you cycle through your Facebook-Twitter-Instagram routine will add up to hours of wasted time in the long run.

2. Get a Study Buddy

Having someone else to keep you accountable is another way to stay on track. If you have an appointment at the library with a friend, chances are greater that you will be there at the time you originally planned. When you go it alone, it's easier to put off studying to a later time or leave early.

3. Race the Clock

Some things shouldn't be rushed, like proofreading your research paper or careful mathematical calculations. However, when it comes to something like piecing together an outline or organizing your flashcards -- create a competition against yourself. Set a timer for a reasonable number of minutes and aim to complete your task before the buzzer goes off. Give yourself a small reward, like a coffee break, when you succeed. This also allows you to break up your learning tasks into smaller goals -- another way to study smarter.

4. Don't Study Where You Sleep

Sure, sometimes you will wind up reading a book in bed. However, it's too easy to get distracted when you study in your bedroom, and you can even wind up disrupting your sleep schedule this way. When your brain makes a connection between studying and your bed, unwinding at night becomes more difficult. Instead, designate a desk in your home or the library to be your study spot.

5. Time it Right

Be honest with yourself about when you are most alert and productive. Have you been trying to study at night when your brain is simply sharper and better conditioned for learning in the morning? If that's the case, get in a good study session every day before noon. In time, it will become natural to pick up your textbook just after finishing breakfast.

Top 3 Qualities of a Successful Online Student

by South University 10 December 2013

For many students, taking online classes is simply more practical than driving to a campus and sitting in a classroom at a designated time. The convenience factor alone makes it a great option for those with strict schedules. As an online student you have the flexibility to decide when and where you attend class, but earning your degree still requires a significant amount of time and effort.

Education conceptWe’ve noticed that successful students often share certain traits. Do you also have these critical skills? Working to sharpen these qualities can help you succeed in online learning and beyond.

1. They are organized.

Staying organized is critical for success in any arena, and online learning is no exception. Missed assignments - in both academic and work life - can affect your advancement opportunities. However, technology can make it a bit easier to stay on schedule. Sync your calendar with school deadlines so it sends automatic reminders about projects and assignments. An up-to-date calendar is among the most useful organizational tools available to most online students.

2. They excel at time management.

Successful students prioritize their education. You can still complete your work in time to go out and have fun, but school comes first. Once you make the commitment to your education, it's crucial to take a hard look at your current schedule. Keep in mind, regardless of the format, every class requires a certain amount of in-class time and at-home study.

Careful time management is the foundation for staying on task and on schedule. Be prepared to miss out on some social activities, and plan for the ones you definitely do not want to miss. When you stay focused and committed to your program, you can reach graduation and experience the reward of earning your degree.

3. They aren’t afraid to ask for help.

Your classroom material will provide much of the academic information you need, but there will be times when you need extra help. There is no shame in asking, and, you will find no shortage of people at South University who want to help you. Your instructor offers a valuable resource for learning how to apply textbook knowledge to real life situations. You can also find on-demand tutoring in the Classroom, and don’t forget that the Online Librarian, Tech Support, Counseling Center staff, and your Academic Counselor are also here to help.

Never hesitate to ask questions of your instructor, your peers or anyone else. The more information you gather, the better you will do in and out of the classroom. There are no bad questions—except for the ones you never ask.

Become the Student You Want to Be

Getting organized, managing your study time and asking for help when you need it can pave the way for you to succeed. Prioritize these skills and you can join the ranks of successful alumni who have earned a degree from South University!

How to Stop Getting Distracted and Start Focusing on Your Studies

by South University 1 October 2013

The advent of online education has yielded benefits almost too numerous to name. It's now easier than ever to earn your degree while also working full-time or raising a family, or even when you don’t live near an institution of higher learning. However, if you're attending classes from your living room or a coffee shop, it’s also easier to be distracted. South University recognizes the difficulties inherent in earning a degree online and has compiled some of the best tips and tricks for staying focused on your coursework.

adult studying

Designate a Work Space

Tempting though it might seem to work from your couch or bed, you'll be more productive in a specially designated work space. Setting aside a work space reinforces the message that your coursework is important. What's more, an ergonomically correct work space can enable you to focus for even longer periods. When you're in your work space, focus only on work. If you don't have space in your residence, find a quiet coffee shop, public library or other space where you can work undisturbed for a good stretch of time. Establishing a space-related routine is almost as important as finding the space itself.

Allocate Time for Your Coursework

Much as you should designate a work space, so too should you set aside work time. Scheduling time for your courses and homework serves as a reminder that you're working toward your goals and need to dedicate appropriate time and effort to achieving them. Examine your current schedule to determine how much time you can budget for your courses and related activities. If possible, set aside smaller blocks of time each day rather than one large block of time per week. Meeting small goals (even like studying for one hour) is easier than tackling large ones.

Allow Yourself Breaks

If you think working non-stop is the way to get the most done, think again. Short breaks give your mind and body the much-needed chance to recharge. Once an hour, take a few minutes to get up, stretch, walk around, or check your email. Limiting web surfing to breaks makes the experience more enjoyable and helps you stay focused on the task at hand.

Enlist the Support of Others

Don't be afraid to ask for help! Share your goals with your friends and family and let loved ones know what they can do to make your journey easier. Don't be afraid to ask for help! If having a TV on near you is distracting, let your spouse or kids know. If you tell yourself that you would finish that paper but you have to cook dinner, order a pizza. Most people will be glad to help, and their generosity will encourage your further success.

Stand Your Ground

During your scheduled work time, do not respond to other requests or matters. Put your phone on silent (or turn it off), step back from Facebook, and let your family know that you won't be available for an hour or two. If necessary, hire a babysitter or ask a friend to watch your kids. Standing your ground will send the message—to yourself, your family, your friends and instructors—that you're invested in you.

How to Get Organized Online

by South University 4 April 2013

As a student at South University, organizing your workspace and schedule can help you succeed. Here are some tips for staying on top of every assignment that comes your way!

Email Folders: Instead of keeping all your emails in your inbox, create separate folders for each type of email you save. You may have a main folder for South University, then subfolders for each class and additional subfolders for each project. When you don't have to spend time searching for everything you need, you'll wind up finishing much more quickly.

Bookmark Folders: When you bookmark certain web sites, you'll end up with a long list if you don’t create specific folders. When you have folders for your research, fun sites, school sites and work-related sites, it will be much easier for you to find the page you need. Plus, you won’t have a long list of unsorted bookmarks to scroll through.

Calendars: Use a calendar to send yourself reminders. You can use an online calendar, a calendar that may come with your email program, or you can download a free or paid calendar application for your PC. Some calendars also synchronize with your smart phone, so you may be able to get reminders while you are away from your computer. Fill in times for your work and class schedules so you can see – at a glance -- when you have free time.

Other Applications: Find a note-taking application to help you keep everything from class in one place and easy to find. Evernote is a popular, free note-taking application. Like your email folders, note-taking apps let you create separate project files for school, work and play, and you can create subfiles within files. For example, if you are studying Criminal Justice, you may have a file called Criminal Justice Notes and subfiles called Juvenile Justice, Law Enforcement Issues, etc. When your next project or paper comes up, you'll know where to start your research.


When you are organized online, your life offline becomes more organized as well. You’ll be less likely to miss important dates or deadlines – and things will be much easier to find, which could save you hours of time. In fact, you may discover that you suddenly have more time for your online classes, more time for additional work projects and maybe even more time to relax!