Online degree programs can make it so much easier to earn a master’s or bachelor’s degree, especially if you have other responsibilities, like family members to take care of or a mortgage to pay. You can take online classes on your own schedule and they’re often accelerated, so you can finish your degree credits faster.
But you need the right mindset to succeed in online classes. You need to be able to motivate yourself to work on your online classes regularly and hold yourself accountable to meeting deadlines. There’s just no way you can do it without a lot of self-discipline. But if you develop the skills needed for online learning, you can wring every last drop of professional value out of your classes and leverage your new degree into an exciting new career.
Schedule Class Time Every Week
Most online classes are asynchronous, meaning that students engage with the course material on their own time, instead of all logging in at once to participate in a class meeting. Of course, that’s not always true – many programs have synchronous classes and even in primarily asynchronous classes, there may be times when you have to coordinate to log in at the same time as other students, such as for a study group or a group project.
But without scheduled class sessions, you’re going to have to schedule your own time to study. Sit down with your calendar every Sunday and block out time to study. You’ll have to download course materials, watch lectures, do reading, and complete assignments. Schedule blocks of time throughout the week when you’re free to study. If you can’t study at night because you have kids at home, get up early in the morning or try to fit in study time while they’re at school. Try to study at the same times every week – it will help you maintain your discipline and it will make things easier for your family, too, if they can predict when you’ll be unavailable because you’re doing coursework.
Give Yourself a Study Spot
Studying in the same place every time helps build retention, and having a study area to go to helps you get into the mood to hit the books. It’ll also help you stay organized if you have a specific place for your study materials. Make sure your study spot is comfortable and located in a quiet part of the house. If you don’t have a spot in your house, choose a table at your local library or your school’s library, if it’s close enough for you to access it. Getting out of the house to study can help you eliminate distractions.
Track Your Deadlines and Commitments
Read your syllabi carefully at the start of each semester and write down your deadlines in your schedule. You can take this opportunity to note any personal commitments that will impact how you’ll manage your workload over the course of the term. You may not get as many reminders about deadlines and due dates as you would in traditional classes, so check your schedule regularly to stay on top of things. Don’t procrastinate – give yourself plenty of time to finish your assignments. It will help you manage your workload more effectively and with less stress.
Keep Yourself Motivated
It can be hard to stay motivated to complete an online course of study, especially if you’re doing a rigorous degree like an online Master’s in Finance. Keep a growth mindset and remember that it’s not necessarily your ability, but your effort that will help you succeed. Use positive self-talk – getting discouraged can sap your motivation.
Think about your assignments in terms of how they can help you in your real-world career. If you’re doing a graduate degree, for example, perhaps you can turn your class assignments into conference presentations. Connect your assignments and courses to your professional goals. Remind yourself that you need to stay engaged with your lessons in order to succeed in your career someday.
Engage with Other Students and Professors
It’s not just the skills you learn in college that help you in your career – it’s also the connections you make. In online college, you’re going to have to put a little more effort into nurturing those connections, but doing so will help keep you motivated and help you feel connected to your coursework. Participate in Zoom study groups, course discussion boards, and group chats. Meet with classmates that live close by. Attend your professors’ virtual office hours. The more effort you put into strengthening your relationships now, the more you’ll benefit from your network later.
It takes a dedicated, committed person to succeed in online classes, but the rewards can be well worth the hard work. You can earn your degree without leaving home, and often much faster, too. That means you can start your new career sooner, and start living the life you’ve imagined.
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