BusinessFour tips to prepare you for your online degree...

Four tips to prepare you for your online degree course

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So, you are considering an online degree course and wondering where to start. There is no doubt that online education is a very different way of learning and takes some getting used to, but with the right attitude and a bit of research, you can ensure that you have everything you need to be prepared for your online degree. In many ways, distance learning is not so dissimilar from face-to-face learning — with high standards of instruction and resources — but the flexibility and convenience of online education is often what attracts people away from traditional, classroom-based learning.

Thanks to advances in technology and accessibility, it is easier than ever for people from varying backgrounds to further their education with an online degree. Learning remotely allows those with complex schedules due to work or family commitments to find a course that fits around them. An online degree gives you the freedom to study anywhere at any time, depending on your routines and responsibilities. As you do not have to attend classes in person, you have the opportunity to choose from the top colleges and universities worldwide that may have been inaccessible or highly inconvenient for you otherwise. Through online study, you also have the opportunity to advance into further and postgraduate education through an online master’s degree. Courses are widely accessible in many different fields of study, such as an online master’s in education through the University of Exeter.

However, studying a degree course online does come with its own challenges if you are not prepared, so here are some tips and advice for those looking to embark on a new way of learning, to ensure you get the most out of your online experience:

  1. Learn how to use your equipment

It may sound obvious, but an online degree relies on your ability to navigate technology. It is crucial that before even beginning your course, you learn the basics of whatever tool you will be using primarily during your degree, such as a PC, laptop, tablet, etc. A big mistake many first-time learners make is going into their degree without first becoming confident with technology and the programs that they will be dependent on during their studies. This can lead to stressful and frustrating situations, like being unable to submit assignments on time, struggling to locate resources, and feeling disorganized. All this can easily be avoided if you spend some time familiarizing yourself with the chat rooms, file-sharing programs, library portals, and video-conferencing software, which your institution will expect you to interact with during your course. It may also be worth ensuring that you have a reliable internet connection at home, or wherever you will be doing the majority of your studying. Freezing video screens, slow downloads, and lagging updates can get in the way of your learning experience and distract you from absorbing the content and material.

  • Establish a routine that works for you

One of the greatest advantages of learning online is being your own boss. You can decide where and when you study, depending on work and family commitments, meaning you have the freedom to work at the times you know you can be the most productive. Create a study routine you know you can stick to, which allows for time to prepare materials for upcoming classes, spend time on readings and annotations, and complete assignments. You have a responsibility as a student to manage your time effectively in order to ensure your studies are successful. In this way, an online degree is not so different from an in-person one, as most degrees emphasize independence, autonomy and self-motivation to achieve your goals. The only difference is that online degrees require slightly more self-discipline to ensure you attend classes and meet deadlines without a classroom of peers and lecturers to hold you accountable.

  • Create a positive working environment

One huge benefit of studying remotely is having a space that is dedicated to your learning. Working from home, as many of us know, is made difficult by being in an environment that you associate with relaxation, family, housework, etc., and it can be challenging to shift into a work mindset. However, by creating a space that is reserved only for your studies, you can train yourself to work effectively.

You want to ensure that your workspace is congenial to you feeling stimulated, energized and focused, which means being removed from anything that could distract you or lead to procrastination. What is considered an effective working environment is entirely dependent on the individual, and how they work best. So, make sure to consider what, in particular, motivates you to study. Is it inspirational quotes on pieces of paper dotted around your desk, relaxing music in the background, or having a space with a window and natural light? Make sure your working space is in harmony with your working mindset.

  • Avoid distractions

As mentioned before, it is important when working from home to avoid becoming distracted as best you can. Surrounded by the comforts of home, like food in the cupboards, your favorite show on the TV and kids competing for your attention, it can take real effort to stay focused on your work. While you cannot be expected to study in complete isolation, consider putting measures in place that will stop you from getting distracted, such as noise-canceling headphones, or regular tea breaks, or a sign on the door that tells those you live with that you are not to be disturbed. Find a method that works for you and helps you keep your concentration levels high.

Online degrees come with many advantages that allow education to be an accessible and realistic goal for people who would previously have struggled to balance their studies with work and family commitments. By following this advice and the tips listed above, you can guarantee that your online learning experience will give you the best chance for your future ambitions and career.

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