Ten tips to help you succeed in your online degree

Ten tips to help you succeed in your online degree

Studying online has become more and more popular in recent years and is a great way for students with lots of other commitments to get the flexibility they need to complete a degree. Whether you’re working, raising a family, or both, online study can help you reach your goals while still meeting other obligations. Here are a few of our top tips that will help you succeed in your online degree.

Pick the right program for you

There’s a lot of variation when it comes to online degree programs, so take a close look at everything available and make sure that you pick the program that will get you to where you want to go, preferably in the shortest amount of time. If you’re going back to school to advance your career, make sure that you consider credits for past studies. At Baylor University Online, for example, you can get a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in as little as one year if you already have a bachelor’s degree, even in a completely unrelated subject. Make sure that you pick a program that utilizes previous study credits if possible. If in doubt, call the university and speak to an academic advisor.

Prepare in advance

Once you know the program you’re studying, do your research. Familiarize yourself with the program content and have a look through some of the textbooks and study materials. Find out if there are journals, documentaries or podcasts related to your courses that you could be exploring. Read around the subject a little and familiarize yourself with the jargon. The more you know about the topics you’re about to start studying, the better.

Get organized

Getting organized will help you be more successful and feel less stressed. As soon as you know your study schedule, start planning how to make it work. Get all your classes on your calendar, along with important dates such as exams, presentations and assignment due dates. Schedule in the time you’ll spend studying, getting your assignments done, and completing any weekly readings. Always leave yourself a little more time than you think you’ll really need, for those days when life just happens.

Brush up your study skills

There are various techniques that can make it easier to study effectively and better retain the information you’re studying. Learn about effective note-taking, how to absorb what you read easily, and the various memory tricks you can use to make sure that the important information sticks. You might also want to assess your learning style. Some people learn best by reading and note-taking. Others need to discuss what they have learned or record their notes to listen to later.

Create a study space

Create a nice, neat, productive learning environment with all your study materials to hand, a comfortable desk to work at, and a pleasing ambiance. You’re going to be spending a lot of time here, so make it an enjoyable place to be. If you lead a busy life, you’ll doubtless find yourself studying at the kitchen table while dinner is cooking, or in the car while waiting to pick up your kids, among many other places, but having a dedicated workspace that you mainly use just for studying can really help your productivity.

Find a study buddy

You may be studying online, but it’s still good to get to know your fellow students. If you can find a study buddy, or even a small study group, who you can meet up with virtually on a regular basis, then that will really help. You’ll be able to discuss what you’re learning, talk about this week’s reading, and get clarity on things that you may not fully understand, or take comfort from the fact that others aren’t fully understanding them either.

Know who to turn to

If you’re struggling to understand a concept, it’s time to get clarification from a teacher or maybe a peer tutor. If you have questions about course choices, credits and future study, you might need to talk to an academic advisor. If you need to discuss personal issues, you might want to get in touch with a counselor. Make sure that you know who to turn to when you hit bumps in the road, no matter what they might be.

Manage your time

If you’re not good at time management, now is the time to learn a few techniques. If you’re combining online study with work and family commitments, you’ll need to keep track of time and use it wisely. However, remember that different things work for different people. Most people can’t multi-task effectively, but a few can, especially if it is something like listening to an audio recording while walking or working out. Some people find that they work more effectively when they have big chunks of time to get into ‘flow’. Others are more effective with regular breaks. Find the time management tricks that suit you and make them work in your favor.

Layer your learning

When you learn about a concept that interests you, go a little deeper. Read around the topic. Watch a video on it. Discuss it with a friend. Think about how it applies in everyday life and what examples you’ve observed that demonstrate it. This type of learning deepens understanding, and beats simple memorization, every time.

Keep your motivation high

Staying motivated when studying online can be challenging. Try to get into a good routine, find aspects of your work that you find interesting, and study in a way that works for you and that you find inspiring. Keep your reasons for taking on this course of study top of mind, whether you’re trying to advance your career, make more money, or make a bigger impact on the world. Celebrate your wins, big and small, whether that’s a fun night out after handing in an assignment, or a cup of your favorite coffee when you finish this week’s reading. Small rewards give you something to look forward to and inspire you to keep moving in the right direction.

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