What are your current expectations for studying online? Perhaps you’ve chosen to earn your degree online because factors like geography and time prevent you from participating in an on-campus program. And while studying online can help erase those barriers by letting students like you avoid costly commutes and, in many cases, allowing them to keep their current jobs, the process presents its own challenges and requires that you be fully prepared.
Here are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind to ensure that your experience in earning a degree online is successful.
Studying Online Means You’re Still Going to Work Hard
Just because your coursework is offered online doesn’t mean it will be less rigorous than that in the program’s on-campus counterpart. You should be prepared to set aside at least 20 hours per week for classwork, which may include watching online videos or slide presentations, completing research and reading assignments, participating in discussion boards, and more.
Know How to Take Advantage of Flexibility
Opting for a digital classroom means studying online is possible whenever, wherever you want. But it also means that you are more accountable to yourself than you might be in a physical classroom environment. Without face-to-face peer and faculty interaction, your studies will likely require a greater degree of self-discipline. With this in mind, it is advised that you keep a fairly strict study schedule and hold yourself to it.
Set Goals for Yourself
One of the best ways to hold yourself accountable is to set personal goals that go above and beyond the requirements of your class. If you have an assignment due on a Monday, why not challenge yourself to finish it by the Friday before? Relying on yourself to set milestones for achievement will pay off as your assignments get tougher. You may even find that it’s worthwhile to set longer-term goals for entire semesters, as well as short-term goals that are achievable each week or month.
Consistency Is Key
If you commit to studying online every Tuesday night, it becomes increasingly ingrained as part of your schedule. To ensure you set aside an appropriate amount of time for coursework, plan your study schedule a week or month (or more!) in advance, and make sure the schedule accounts for daily opportunity to revisit your current assignments. Similarly, it’s also helpful to study in the same place every day, whether at a desk, the kitchen table or at a certain coffee shop.
Having a set routine will help on those days when your energy flags and you still have work to get done.
Connect With Colleagues
Your instructors and your classmates are invaluable resources, and they can be a great help during your online graduate journey. Take advantage of their presence! Reach out to instructors with questions about what you can expect in their classes, and ask about their expectations for assignments. At the same time, remember that networking is also a valuable part of your education—your cohort peers are working to advance their own careers, and building relationships with them can serve you not only during your shared online learning experience but also professionally in the future.
Get the Support You Need
You’re not in this alone. In addition to your instructors and classmates, you should make your friends, families and colleagues aware that you’re studying online to pursue your degree. While goal-setting and scheduling a routine will help throughout the program, having support from the people around you can be the difference between completing the program and bowing out early. So share your goals with these individuals and make them aware of your study schedule—they can become another valuable source of accountability.
It’s also a good idea to let your current employer know that you’re pursuing a graduate degree. Ask them if there is an option for flexible scheduling, and explore whether there is an opportunity to apply your coursework at the office or even to have some of your tuition covered.
Keep the End in Sight
Before you start classes, compile a list of reasons that can remind you why you’re pursuing a graduate degree. When you reach a moment of frustration or if you’re struggling to stick with your study schedule, take out your list. When you’re able to tangibly review your goals and reasons for pursuing your degree, you may find it’s easier to keep moving forward.
The innovative online MBA program from the University of Kansas is designed to keep you engaged, and it provides immediately applicable coursework that will keep you coming back for more tools and insights. Discover how the program can help you accelerate your career and put you on the path toward achieving your professional goals.