Online learning is a truly flexible method of getting the qualifications that you need, whether you want to start out in your career for the first time, want to improve your career prospects and move up the ranks, or are considering a complete career change. If you’ve only ever experienced being taught in a classroom, then online learning could be quite a daunting idea for you. But, while classroom learning can be great, it can also be rather restrictive compared to learning online. Studying for an online program gives you more freedom and allows you to lead your studies yourself, choosing when and where is best for you to learn most effectively.
For many students, the idea of studying from home without physical classes to attend and use to hold themselves accountable can seem daunting. You might be worried about getting distracted, being unable to access the same kind of resources at home, or even falling victim to procrastination. The good news is that by making sure that your home and study space is fully prepared for the journey that you are about to embark on, you can ensure that you make the most of your online study time. Here are some top tips to keep in mind:
#1. Choose the Right Program for You:
It’s a simple fact that you’ll be more likely to succeed if you choose the right program for you. Enrolling on a program that doesn’t suit your schedule or the level that you’d like to study at can quickly make life difficult for you and cause you to lose interest. If you’re not sure of the program subject that you would like to study, then it’s a good idea to consider your interests, plus what it is that you want to get out of your studies. Maybe you’ve got a particular profession in mind, whether you’re just embarking on the first steps of your career, or are considering a career change. If you’re having trouble deciding on a career for you, it’s worth considering what you are interested in and passionate about; people who study subjects that they already enjoy and love are more likely to be successful.
Or, you might be choosing online study as a way of improving your current career prospects. For example, if you are working as a registered nurse, a DNP FNP program can help you work up the ranks in your chosen career, for example, if you want to work as a family nurse practitioner at a doctor’s office, or even in your own practice. Studying online is an ideal choice for those who want to improve their career prospects, as the flexible nature of the programs allow you to work them around full-time hours.
#2. Create a Schedule:
Studying online is all about working it around your busy life, compared to classroom-based learning, which you’ll need to find the time to fit in whenever it is scheduled for. As a result, online students have the option of creating their own schedule, allowing them to study at times that suit them best and continue getting on with working, looking after family, and any other commitments or hobbies just the same. It is designed to cause minimal disruption to your life, which is ideal if you need things to stay as much the same as possible, compared to classroom learning which can often lead to a huge life overhaul.
So, before you begin, it’s a wise idea to determine when you’ll have the time to study and come up with a schedule that you can stick to. Although you can be as flexible as you need with your schedule, it’s a great way to hold yourself accountable and make sure that you know what you are meant to be doing from one day to the next, which can help to reduce stress and anxiety regarding your studies. To put together your schedule, first look at all the regular things that you have on each week such as work, childcare commitments, meetings and anything else that you do. Then, look at the time that you have free in between and figure out which of these times are going to be the most effective for studying. Ideally, if you are studying for a three-credit class, then you should set aside at least three hours a week, although you could do more if you want to.
#3. Create a Quiet Study Space:
If you have somewhere in your home that’s quiet and set up so that you can study and focus without having to worry about anything else, it will be easier for you to adapt and acclimatize to being an online student. If you have the space in your home, it’s worth designating an entire room for the purpose of studying. You could turn your spare bedroom into a home office complete with desk, whiteboard and a bookcase, and have a pair of speakers in there so that you can play your most motivating and feel-good tunes while you study.
If you don’t have a spare room that you can use, then don’t worry – there are still plenty of things that you can do to make sure that you have somewhere quiet and comfortable to study at home. For example, you might want to turn a corner of your kitchen, dining room, bedroom or even your sun room into your study space.
Is studying at home not working for you? Some people do find it to be too distracting and find that their mind can focus better when they get out of the house. If this is the case for you, then it could be worth finding a local library where you can take advantage of the Wi-Fi and quiet zones, or if you prefer, a local coffee shop. If you’re still in the stage of choosing which online college to apply to, it might be worth looking for one close to your home so that you can take advantage of the facilities without the restrictions of a class schedule.
#4. Ask for Help:
Juggling studying online with your work, family commitments and everything else on your schedule isn’t easy. So, as an online student, it’s important to remember that there is no shame in asking for help when you need it. And, there is a lot of help available for you. If you are struggling financially, for example, then it’s worth exploring your options for financial aid and seeing if there are any grants available that you can take advantage of to help you afford your expenses whilst studying and relieve some of your stress.
It’s also a good idea to build up a strong support network around you; this could be your family and friends who will be there to support you as you study and be there for you when you need assistance, whether you need someone to help you with revision or want somebody to assist with childcare so that you can some extra quiet time to focus on your studies.
And finally, studying for an online degree can take its toll on your mental health, especially if you are juggling your studies with a busy life and full-time work and begin to feel like you don’t have enough time in the day to complete everything that needs to be done. If you are worried that your stress levels are becoming harder and harder to manage or you’re feeling depressed or anxious about everything that you have to do, it might be worth talking to a professional about how you feel. A good therapist will be able to help you better manage your time and find healthier coping mechanisms for any stress you’re under.
#5. Celebrate Your Achievements:
When studying for your online degree, remember to celebrate your achievements – no matter how small you think that they are. This is especially important if you have been working on something that you have found especially challenging; giving yourself a small reward for each successful study session, or a larger treat when you finally complete an assignment or pass an exam, will give you something to look forward to and work towards to help keep you motivated.
Celebrating your achievements could be something as small as cooking yourself your favorite meal, to as large as taking yourself for a weekend break. When you’re busy studying online, taking time away from your work and allowing yourself to indulge in doing something that you enjoy from time to time can be just as important as the amount of work that you’re putting into revising and completing assignments. Rewarding yourself with regular breaks will not only keep you motivated, but also allow you to feel more refreshed and ready to take on the rest of the work without feeling burned out or overwhelmed.
Studying online can be one of the most flexible ways of getting the qualifications you need to start, further or change your career. If you found these tips helpful, we’d love to hear what you thought in the comments.