Online students read a lot, and shifting from reading physical books to digital materials can be an adjustment. But no matter the medium, the trick to being a good reader is to be engaged. And the trick to being an engaged online reader means bringing in a few tools to help with focus and comprehension. Here are a few tips for becoming a better reader online.
When it comes to studying, the No. 1 thing you can do to make the most out of your time is engage with the text. Engaging in active reading will increase how much you retain.
Recite, Relate & Review: Start with periodically reciting what you've read, reflecting on the material and its key points. Relate the reading to what you've already learned, then review parts of the reading you may need more clarification on.
Don't Study in Bed: It's tempting to want to work in bed while studying at home. However, studying in bed decreases productivity and has a way of tempting you to stop working, lose focus, or fall asleep. The best space to work is at a table or desk in a quiet space.
Print Out the Readings: Shifting exclusively to digital reading can sometimes be hard. If reading online is too difficult, print out the readings. This gives you the option to highlight passages andtake notes in the margins. Everyone learns differently—find the format that works best for you.
If you don't want to print out online reading materials, but miss the ability to write in the margins, you're in luck. There's an app for that—quite a few, in fact. Here are a few study apps that can help you take notes while reading:
Penzu: Penzu is a private, 100 percent customizable online journal. Keep it open on your desktop to easily type your notes while studying. The benefit of online notes is they can never be lost or misplaced and they're accessible anywhere.
StudyBlue: StudyBlue provides intelligent digital learning tools, including flashcards, notes, study guides and more. With its free mobile apps, you can instantly access all of your notes and flashcards on the go.
A key factor to being an engaged reader is focus. This can be tough with a million things happening around you. However, there are a few tried-and-true ways to maintain your focus while studying.
Listen to Music: Listening to music is known to calm your senses, "leading to more conscientious studying, elevating your mood, motivating you to stay focused and studying for longer periods of time," according to Fastweb. Specifically, classical music has been known to create a calm and serene atmosphere—many consider it one of the best genres to listen to while studying, as listeners have reported it puts them in a better mood and increasesproductivity.
Avoid Multi-Tasking: With the internet at your fingertips and the societally-ingrained tendency to multi-task, it's difficult to stay focused when studying on a computer. A 2014 study from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found the average American spends only 19 minutes a day reading, mostly because the presence of screens takes away from the time spent reading other things. Luckily there are many online tools that combat this issue. For example, StayFocused is a web extension that increases your productivity by restricting the amount of time spent on time-wasting websites.
When trying to stay focused and retain information, it is important to know when to take a break, especially as staring at digital screens can cause eye fatigue.
20-20-20 Rule: Keep the 20-20-20 rule in your back pocket while studying. Every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break and focus your eyes on something at least 20 feet away. This will exercise your eye muscles and help prevent straining.
Bluelight-Blocking Web Extensions: Additionally, there are many web extensions that help youstay energized and maintain healthy eye care, particularly if you're studying at night. When youuse artificial lighting to extend the day, various sleep signals are disrupted. The blue light emitted by screens causes you to be more alert and produce less melatonin. Apps like CareUEyes and browser extensions like f.lux work to reduce the blue light emitted from screens by adjusting to the time of day and shifting the color of your display after dark. CareUEyes even locks your computer, forcing you to take a three minute break every 45 minutes.
Online reading takes some adapting, especially if you're not used to doing a majority of your studying online. But with a few simple tricks, you can win at your next study session by optimizing your ability to focus.
When Kevin Kays enrolled in the Associate Degree Program in Construction Management, it had been more than a decade since he had attended any kind of school. Because he was working full time in the construction business, convenience was on his mind as he began researching online colleges. He needed a flexible program of study that was affordable and would lead to a degree. He also wanted the freedom to learn at his own pace so he could finish his studies sooner rather than later.
Good fortune came his way in two ways. He decided Ashworth College met all of his needs, and his employer reimbursed him for the cost of the program.
However, life has a way of throwing curve balls at you when you least expect it. Shortly after he enrolled at Ashworth College, Kevin was diagnosed with epilepsy and ended up in the hospital for treatment. But there was no stopping him. In his words, “Online education is really helpful if you have chronic health issues. I started my construction management degree just before I was diagnosed with epilepsy and I loved that it was online, since I had stays in the hospital. I probably wouldn't have been able to finish my degree at a brick and mortar school."
Returning to his job, Kevin refocused on earning his degree. He studied late at night, on weekends, and during lunch breaks at work. He remained committed to bettering himself, and in about two years the hard work paid off and he graduated.
Watch Kevin Kays speak at an Ashworth College graduation ceremony.
Kevin’s epilepsy prohibited him from achieving his initial goal of becoming a construction manager but didn’t let that dash his dreams of achieving more in life and attaining personal fulfillment. After earning his associate degree, he became an elementary school assistant substitute teacher. His associate degree qualified him for the role, and teaching young people became his new passion.
“I like making a difference in children’s lives a lot more than construction,” notes Kevin, adding, “At first I was in denial about epilepsy, but realized I had one choice: to just smile and move forward. It is what gave me the idea for my new career and as odd as it is to say, it has helped me find a career I love more.”
Ashworth College trains tens of thousands of students to be competent in careers they love. And even though Kevin graduated years ago, he continues to lavish praise on the quality of education he received at Ashworth College while earning his degree.
“The staff went above and beyond to help me out and they were great. I still stay in contact to this day. The advisors and staff are just great and easy to talk to. They give you quick feedback and were just amazing. In addition, I got all of my books on time and didn’t have to wait around for anything.”
While in school, Kevin’s strong suit was math, while English challenged him. When he was unsure of how to interpret a question in that subject, he would frequently call the professor for clarification. He suggests that Ashworth College students request help rather than guessing if they have any questions or uncertainty about what a concept means.
Says Kevin, “Make a phone call or leave a message in the online portal, or participate in the online community where you can go to the forum; I actually answered and asked questions in the forum a few times. Even if it’s at the end of the day, leave a message and they will call you back to help you.”
Recently, Kevin experienced another health setback and is scheduled for brain surgery. However, he has no intention of the surgery interfering with his career. He plans to earn his bachelor’s degree so he can become a full-fledged teacher. With the strength and determination he has shown in the past, there is no question his future remains bright.
If you’re considering higher education but are unsure where to start, contact one of our Admission Advisors at 1-800-957-5412 to help guide you through your choices.
If you’ve taken any prescription medications, you’ve no doubt interacted with a pharmacy technician. These professionals are most recognizable as the folks at your local drug store – handing you a prescription bag and ringing up your purchase on the cash register.
Retail pharmacies aren’t the only places pharm techs work, though. Pharmacy technicians work in a variety of settings, from hospitals to mail-order prescription facilities. And their job tasks can vary greatly depending on where they work.
About half of all pharm techs work in drug stores, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. In a retail environment, pharmacy technicians work under the direction of the registered pharmacist to handle a number of important tasks, including:
Most pharmacy technicians employed in a retail setting work full time, sometimes in shifts that include nights and weekends. The median pharmacy technician salary in retail drug stores is about $30,000 per year, and demand for pharm techs is expected to grow rapidly as the Baby Boomer population continues to age.
Some pharm techs don’t want to interact with the public as much as required in a drug store setting. If that sounds like you, then you may be interested to know that hospitals employ many pharmacy technicians “behind the scenes” to prepare medications for patients. Like their retail peers, hospital-based pharm techs also work under the supervision of a registered pharmacist, but they may perform more complex tasks, including:
Working in a hospital is tops for pharmacy technician pay: the median salary for these professionals comes in at nearly $37,000 per year.
Many people receive their medications through the mail these days, and while it’s true that big machines count and package those pills, the prescriptions still must be processed by someone who has passed a pharmacy technician exam.
In a mail-order pharmacy, a pharm tech might:
Pharmacy technician hourly pay in a mail-order facility might run as high as $15.50, for a median annual salary of about $31,000.
Pharm techs work in other settings, too, including nursing homes and assisted living facilities, where they may package and dispense medications to patients.
If you’re interested in learning more about how to become a pharmacy technician, our Admission Advisors can put you on the path to enter this this fast-growing field. Learn more about the online pharmacy technician program at Ashworth College. Call 1-800-957-5412 or request free information today!
In our GO AFTER IT blog series, you'll meet fellow students and grads who committed themselves to chasing their dreams and proving it pays to GO AHEAD toward better opportunities -- no matter the obstacles to be overcome.
When Dan Brennanhusen* attained his role as the new director of safety and security for a major school district, his qualifications included nearly two decades of law enforcement and corporate security experience. He had also earned his Master of Science in Criminal Justice from Ashworth College and is a strong believer in the power of education to achieve success.
“I believe higher education is a leveraging tool to seek higher positions,” says Brennanhusen, “and with higher positions you typically are better compensated.”
While Brennanhusen was rewarded with better compensation, he feels that his Ashworth College program provided him with something much more valuable than the promise of higher pay. Even after working as a professional in law enforcement for so many years, he learned new concepts and techniques from the books and lessons in the Master of Criminal Justice Degree Program. He also discovered the practicality of his education, since he is using what he learned every day in his new job.
“I found the program to be contemporary and directly applicable to my profession. The core principles and components of my studies positively impact my career daily,” he says.
The quality of the program was unquestionably relevant to Brennanhusen’s career, but there were other benefits of an Ashworth College education that drew him into attending in the first place.
“Because I had a really busy work and family life, including two kids, I had to find a flexible program. I had been promoted to new assignments and divisions so life was as busy as it could possibly be. Ashworth College offered the accreditation and flexibility I needed to attain my objectives. The cost was also a plus.”
One might ask why a successful criminal justice professional who was already promoted would want to continue their education. According to Brennanhusen, the answer was twofold: career advancement and personal growth. At the time, he was a police sergeant and wanted to become a member of his department’s executive leadership team by working his way up to chief. After being promoted to commander, Brennanhusen realized that he would need a master’s degree to be considered for the next step up. And he knew that a higher-level degree would help him in his role for future promotions.
Says Brennanhusen, “Hiring someone always comes with some risks. I view degrees and higher education as an important piece of the puzzle. Having ‘missing pieces’ may cause a potential employer to find someone who has a more complete puzzle.”
As Brennanhusen completed his educational “puzzle,” he took his time. Aside from his competing priorities of earning a living and caring for a busy family, he says he didn’t want to merely pass assignments – he wanted to get good grades, do well and truly learn. He even paused his studies for a while so he could regroup and refocus.
Congratulations to Brennanhusen on completing his master’s Degree in Criminal Justice and the opportunities it has afforded him. If you’re interested in this field, or other fields of study, we recommend you contact an Admissions Advisor at 1-800-957-5412 who will be happy to answer any and all questions you may have.
* At the request of the student in the interest of job privacy and security, a pseudonym is being used; otherwise, all quotes and information in this blog are actual and verifiable.