Make a plan

Distance learning is self-paced. That means, aside from assessment and exam dates, there is no set schedule. The steps below will help you plan your study, manage your time and balance study with the rest of your life.

  • Step 1 – Make a course study calendar.
  • Step 2 – Plan your study times.
  • Step 3 – Plan your study sessions.

Step 1 – Make a course study calendar

A study calendar will give you an overview of what you need to do throughout your course. Your study calendar should include:

  • your course’s start and end dates
  • assessment due dates. You’ll find these on the My OP homepage in the course info. If you can’t find them, contact your course leader
  • dates for any practicum, workshop and exams (if your course has them)
  • events that are important to you, such as birthdays, family, community or leisure commitments
  • holidays, including school holidays if you have kids
  • any work commitments.

You can also check your course study guide to see where you should aim to be up to in your course each week. You can find this in your course Overview page.

Tip – Remember to update your study calendar if your assess or exam dates change.

If your course only has one deadline for the assessments and the exam:

  • work out what you need to do for each assessment and for the exam
  • divide what you need to do into manageable chunks, then estimate how long each one will take
  • set your own mini deadlines for each chunk of work.

TIP – Put your study calendar somewhere you and your whānau can see it so you can all keep track of important deadlines.

First of all, when you start your course, get a good study plan in place and stick to it because if you procrastinate and you let it all bunch up it can be hard. But it doesn’t have to be much – just small chunks at a time. It’s about getting on top of it!

Rebecca Lambert-Lane - Bachelor of Applied Science graduate

Step 2 – Plan when you will study

If you’re like most of our learners, you aren’t just studying. Our learners juggle study with work, kids, whānau, and other commitments. So, it’s important you plan to have regular, dedicated time for study each week.

To check how much time you have for study try our Time calculator:

Think about:

  • how much time you will need each week for study (check the course information on this website for an estimate of how much time you will need each week)
  • when you will be able to study each week
  • what other regular weekly commitments you have. Use our time calculator to check how much time you have.

Use this information to make a weekly plan that shows when you will be studying and what other events you have on.

Tip – Put your weekly timetable where others can see it so they know when you will be focused on your studies.


Step 3 – Plan your study sessions

Once you know when you will be studying, spend a little time each week setting goals and planning your study sessions.

At the start of each session:

  • decide what you want to achieve (your goals) and write them down. This makes them more real and will help you to commit to them. Check our Tips for setting SMART study goals.
  • work out the tasks you need to do to meet those goals
  • break the work into manageable chunks of time
  • prioritise what you need to focus on first
  • set a mini deadline for each task.

Tip – Do you catch a bus or train to work, or spend time waiting at kid’s activities? You could use this time to read some course material or plan your next study session.

When it comes to assessments, you will also need to plan your time for each one.

Don’t be afraid to ask for support

If you want to talk to someone to help you make a plan and get started with your learning, our Student Mentor team are here to support you with your study journey. Get in touch to book a session:

  • 0508 650 200

If you prefer you can ask to talk to a Māori or Pasifika mentor.

And if something comes up or you fall behind during your course, let your course leader know. They’re here to help and may have ideas for what you could do.

You can also try asking your whānau, friends and colleagues for their support. For example, could they babysit once or twice a week, or pick up your children from school while you study? You might be surprised to find how supportive some people are if they know you need help.

Every day my family connects over group chat. They encourage me in my study but also remind me to have a break, get some fresh air, and don’t sit too long. They’re always giving me different advice that encourages me in what I’m doing.

Kilisi Palu - NZ Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care graduate