On CodeGym, we are true believers in the online learning model and advocate for it every time we can. Because online education really has lots of obvious advantages, such as low costs, flexibility, using more effective ways to present information, etc. But we can’t deny that the online learning model has some weaknesses, which naturally come from its strengths. That’s why low prices and flexibility also account for lowering student’s motivation and sometimes stopping them from succeeding. How to Create an Effective Study Plan. 8 Steps for Java Learners - 1Motivation can be a tricky thing. One day you want something more than anything in the world, and after a few weeks, you may have trouble remembering how you got the idea in the first place. We talked about motivation in this pretty great article about improving your self-learning ability, by the way.

You need a plan

But very often the success, or a failure, of any goal to learn something comes down to having or not having a proper study plan. As well as sticking to it, of course. Now, we cannot help you with the sticking to it part, but we sure can assist in making the proper study plan, which is also not such an easy task, especially when it comes to learning how to code. If you try googling for tips and recommendations on how to make a study plan, you will certainly find lots of advice. In fact, you will find so many of those it can easily get confusing, which brings us back to square one. So we decided to bring together only the most important and crucial steps and recommendations on how to make a proper study plan when you are preparing to learn a programming language.

Step 1. Set a goal, pick a schedule

The first step is quite simple, no need to overthink it, the only remark here is that both the goal and the schedule should be realistic. Meaning that if you set the goal to be “learn Java in two months” and fill your schedule with days of studying for many hours without days off that probably won’t be very effective. You can set a major goal and then divide it into a number of smaller goals (tasks) like computational thinking is teaching us to do. As for the schedule, you are free to try different options and choose the best one, just make sure it is not too tight and not too loose at the same time.

Step 2. Choose the way you want to approach studying

Another important, and often overlooked, step is to choose the way you are going to approach studying online. Some people just keep it solo and try to learn on their own. Others need a mentor to support and assist them in studying to achieve desired results. An alternative way would be learning as a group of students about the same level, supporting and motivating each other. Yes, it can be done online, and, by the way, CodeGym has everything in place for you to socialize with other learners. Structuring the subject you are going to study is also a crucial part of choosing the approach, by the way. When talking about Java, we definitely recommend you to decompose Java learning into a number of parts and topics. In the CodeGym course it is done for you already, but if you are planning to use other sources, you could divide it into topics such as Java Syntax, Java Core, Collections, Multithreading, SQL, Hibernate, Spring Framework, etc.

Step 3. Watch your practice-theory balance

And again, we do tend to mention this a lot in our articles, but it’s just because this is something that cannot be stressed enough. Not keeping up the balance between learning theory and practice is a very common mistake when it comes to learning online. You should always check you are devoting enough time and effort to practice what you;ve just learnt, as your mind usually tends to subconsciously prioritize learning theory (just because simply consuming knowledge takes much less energy than acting, and our brain is such an efficiency freak).

Step 4. Make a pool of your sources of learning

The importance of this step also should not be underestimated, as jumping from one source of learning to another most likely won’t be very beneficial and won’t bring you to your goal. So better make a list of chosen learning providers and stick to it. The examples of sources would be online courses such as CodeGym, books, video guides and tutorials, blogs, podcasts, etc. Of course, some online platforms combine a number of learning sources (this is why CodeGym has so many different features), but the optimal choice would be to pick 2-3 sources and stick just to them.

Step 5. Get armed with effective learning tools and methods

There are lots of different tools and methods, and we had a couple of articles covering some of the best ones. As an example, the Pomodoro technique is quite an effective method to balance the workload and structure effort, installing one of the distraction blockers could be handy to help you focus, and a habit tracking tool will allow you to measure the progress.

Step 6. Add some programming-specific learning practices

While most of these recommendations would be perfectly valid for learning pretty much anything, we shouldn’t overlook the fact that software development is quite a unique discipline. That’s why adding some programming-specific practices and approaches to your study plan would be a good idea. For example, learn about deep programming or computational thinking and start applying these techniques in your studying.

Step 7. Try to improve the effectiveness of each chosen source of learning

Also, each source of learning has its own strengths and weaknesses, and taking them into account would be a smart idea. Here’s, for example, a list of tips on how to learn maximum from programming tutorials. And there are lots of various articles on how to utilize all the benefits of CodeGym, of course. Try this one or this one, for example.

Step 8. Review your study plan on a regular basis and make appropriate adjustments

And the final advice would be to review your study plan regularly, trying to evaluate how effective it is and make changes if necessary. Don’t do it too often though, give any study plan an honest chance and stick to it for a month at least. But believing in your original plan too much would also be a mistake. As the saying goes "Man proposes, but God disposes”. Life has a tendency to constantly interfere in our plans, and it’s our job to make adjustments and corrections along the way.

You aren’t stupid, you just need to find the right approach

So here’s what we would like to say to conclude all the above. If you fail in reaching your goal to learn how to code, the problem is not that you are stupid or not able to master programming as a skill. It’s all about finding the right approach and sticking to it. Nothing else to add here, as the road is made by walking, and walking makes the road. We wish you a good one.How to Create an Effective Study Plan. 8 Steps for Java Learners - 2