For a person busy with work and life, the ability to study online to earn your degree can be a game-changer. By studying online, you save commuting time and it gives you the chance to learn when and where you want. Still, by knowing the best strategies for studying online, you can make sure that the challenges of distance learning don’t sneak up on you. Check out the following tips for online study to help you master your online classes.
Flexible Coursework Still Demands Attention
The first thing most people think about as they consider studying online is the freedom to study at any time of day, wherever you have internet access. But while it’s true you won’t be driving to campus and trying to fit classes into your busy work and personal schedules, it’s important to remember that earning a degree online is still a time commitment. You should be prepared to allocate somewhere between around 20 hours per work for study and coursework.1
Because you’ll be taking class and studying online as an independent student, strong self-discipline is an absolute must for success. While avoiding a commute is nice, many online learners struggle without the accountability of a classroom, where they would otherwise encounter faculty and fellow students in person, on a regular basis. Be ready to set goals for yourself, and remember that you will be the only one to hold yourself accountable to them.
Structure Your Time
On that note, to hold yourself accountable, many former students suggest making a weekly schedule, but not just for class. Schedule everything in one place: your study schedule, your work schedule, time for family and friends, and anything else you need to consistently account for. Just because you’re studying online doesn’t mean your personal life needs to suffer; it just means you have to be intentional about planning your days and the activities that are most important to you.
Prepare for Varied Learning Styles
Studying online doesn’t rely on the classic lecture model in quite the same way that traditional classroom learning does. You’ll want to prepare yourself to engage a variety of learning modalities: video lectures, class projects, gamified scenarios, discussion boards, interactive dashboards and more. Be aware of what works best for you, but also be ready to set aside extra time to study and complete assignments in situations in which online instruction is given in a way that challenges you personally.
Get Comfortable With Your Technology
You know you’ll be studying online, so find a way to access your course content that is comfortable for you and that can quickly become familiar (if it’s not already). If you happen to purchase new equipment for your online classes, such as a laptop, make sure to know your way around it before classes start. Learning your course content will be challenging enough without trying to learn the intricacies and quirks of a new computer at the same time.
Life Will Get in the Way
No matter how well you strategize studying online to ensure it will fit into your daily life, know that things will inevitably come up. While you cannot fully anticipate all of life’s eventualities, you can prepare mentally and emotionally for life to present stumbling blocks. Work hard to maintain your schedule, but grant yourself forgiveness if you need to rewatch a particular lecture or pull the occasional all-nighter to keep on track.
Self-reliance is a noble goal, but it’s also important to enlist aid as needed. Let your family and friends know your plans for studying online, and ask them to provide both accountability and support. Reach out to your fellow classmates, too, as many of them will be in the same boat as you—just because you’re not sharing a physical classroom doesn’t mean you can’t share your challenges. And don’t forget to talk to your employer. They will undoubtedly be supportive of your journey and they may offer some much needed flexibility, or even tuition reimbursement, to help you achieve your goals.
Don’t Lose Sight of Your Goals
Before classes begin, write down all of the reasons you decided to pursue your Online MBA. Whether it’s to get a promotion, to make your entrepreneurial dreams come true, or just to give yourself a better chance at getting hired for a new job, your motivation is tied to your success. When all else fails, come back to your list of reasons to refresh yourself and remind yourself that it will all be worth it in the end.