We know that balancing a full time job while pursuing a Master’s degree can be hard work. Yet rather than taking time away from your job, online degrees provide a unique opportunity to continue your career path, apply classroom learning directly to your job and earn an income—all from anywhere in the world. It’ll take some effort, so to help you along we’ve put together a list to help you navigate the program and succeed in online learning.
1. Don’t fall behind! Stay on top of the syllabus and required coursework and your Capstone Project.
It can be easy for things to pile up, so making an effort to get readings and important assignments completed ahead of time if possible will help you engage with the coursework on a deeper level, ask questions if needed and not fall behind.
2. Integrate school into your life. Integrate your study schedule with your career, academic, family and personal obligations.
Knowing in advance what all of your commitments are will help you to allocate time to schoolwork and maintain balance. Use phone apps with reminders at 1-week, 3-day and 1-day intervals to remind yourself of homework assignments. Google offers a great calendar you can sync with your phone’s calendar
3. Be an active participant. Visit the course homepage regularly to check for updates, download materials and participate in online discussions.
Many of your assignments will require posting comments on the message board or responding to posts from professors or students. This allows you to have in-depth interaction with your classmates and engage in interesting discussions on what you are learning.
Confused? Ask questions and be specific. Describe your confusion or problem in detail; chances are others in the class are wondering about the same thing.
4. Get to know your professors and faculty. Connect with your professor and GSIs through online office hours or via Skype or email.
Your professors are leaders in their field, conducting and publishing groundbreaking research. Take advantage of this unique opportunity; learn more about the field of health care and gain insight from the experts.
Forming a relationship with your professor means they can offer more in-depth letters of recommendation— important for professional development or future job or school applications.
5. And connect with your classmates. Online courses mean the student body is not restricted to one geographical area. Take advantage of this diversity—reach out to your fellow students and learn about their work, career paths, and the different types of jobs and opportunities available.
Connect with classmates on LinkedIn to broaden your professional network. Leverage these relationships for future jobs or collaborations.
Your classmates are also a great sounding board for new ideas, and can provide valuable advice and mentorship. Utilize your new community and reach out.
6. But disconnect from distractions! Readings and assignments require a lot of focus and concentration so set yourself up to do your best work.
Turn off your phone and log off social media. If you feel the urge, take a break. Just be sure to remember your goals and limit your time.
7. Find a productive study space. Whether it is a university library, coffee shop or just your kitchen table, find out where you work and focus best.
8. Take time for yourself. When you’re in a gym class, the instructor often reminds you to breathe. You’re so focused on what you’re doing—and possibly the pain!—that you can forget something so basic as breathing. The same concept applies to your online degree: Don’t forget to breathe, and to pace yourself. Make sure you take regular breaks and get some “me” time to unwind: go for a walk, watch your favorite TV show, spend time with friends and family, etc.
9. Remember what you’re doing this for. You’re going to have those days where it feels overwhelming, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. When you’ve completed the program, you’ll have a Master’s degree, access to a global network of professionals in your field, and the knowledge and skills crucial for a successful future.