Five Traits of Successful Distance Learners

notepad on a wooden surface

Being a distance learner can be a bit of a struggle.  Many people, often as a result of a poor experience in conventional education, find themselves put off the idea of taking on any sort of further learning.  They have mistakenly come to think of themselves as not very smart or otherwise incapable of learning when, in reality, they have simply been let down by a traditional school and college infrastructure that takes little account of the wonderful differences in people and the myriad ways we can learn. 

The good news is that basically anyone can learn to overcome their limitations and achieve new heights of personal achievement.  Many of the limits we find in our learning come about more through self-doubt and limitation rather than our actual physical limits and a distance learning course is an opportunity to unlock our potential through unconventional means.  It’s true that most of us might struggle to grasp quantum physics or other high knowledge specialist areas, but the reality is that many of us could achieve a great deal more simply by changing our methods of thinking when it comes to learning

Here are a couple of traits we’ve found in most of our successful distance learners.  By adopting these habits and ways of thinking and making them your own, you can dramatically increase your chances of educational success.


Proper Planning

Actively taking time to organise your life makes an incredible difference in your opportunities and ability to study and learn.  Setting aside specific time for when you can learn when you will not be disturbed and sticking to them means you will avoid having to cram all your learning into the last minute, a strategy that simply doesn’t work.  Consider building a study plan or time table to develop this trait.



The world is so much bigger than anyone of us can truly grasp.  There’s an incredible amount out there to know, see and do.  Distance learners succeed the most when they have a genuine interest in learning new things and expanding their awareness of the world.  Try to choose topics you have an interest in, but be prepared to go outside your comfort zone as well and see what lurks over the horizon. 



Following on from curiosity, open-mindedness is the trait of understanding that there is almost always more than one point of view on any particular subject.  It means being open to understanding and engaging with ideas, methods and activities, even when they come from areas or persons you might not otherwise agree with.  Consider engaging with courses and media sources from positions you do not agree with personally to practice this trait.


Mindfulness of Thought

Improving the quality of your thinking processes means being aware of the things you are thinking.  It is a discipline focussed around recognizing when your brain is becoming distracted about less important things.   Being aware that you have drifted of course from your studies to ponder what you might have for dinner and refocusing your thoughts back onto your studies is an important skill to learn to get the most out of study time. 

Various meditative techniques and exercises are great ways to start building up mindfulness practices to help you further in your studies.


Knowing When to Stop

As much as we like to encourage students to push themselves and test their learning limits, we appreciate that sometimes your brain simply won't co-operate. When you hit a wall, due to tiredness or work and family related stress, and are no longer able to focus properly on your studies, take a break and do something that will help you relax. Of course, if a student learns how to plan their study times appropriately, they'll find this particular issue becoming less and less prominent.

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