In recent years, online degree programs have become more and more popular. With flexible class times, affordable tuition, and the ability to attend class from virtually anywhere, online degrees are a good option for those who have to work or balance other responsibilities while going to school.
However, without the structure of a brick-and-mortar university, some students find it more difficult to manage their workload. In an online college, you’re much more independent, as you probably don’t live with classmates who may motivate you to do your work. Here are five tips to help you manage the workload of an online degree program.
Set a Schedule
Setting a schedule — and keeping it — is the first and most important step in managing your online college workload. When recording your schedule, write down important commitments like work and class first. Then, set aside a few hours each day for coursework and study time. After you budget this time, you can schedule less necessary commitments like yoga or dance class.
The exact amount of time you need for schoolwork may vary from week to week, and you may find you require more or less time than you originally budgeted. However, don’t be lulled into a false sense of security during the first few weeks. Your workload will almost always increase as the term goes on.
Take Study Breaks
During a longer study session, remember to take breaks. Your brain needs to rest just like the other parts of your body, and will absorb information much more effectively if it does. A good rule of thumb is to take a ten-minute break after every 30 to 40 minutes of study time. When preparing for an exam, also remember to begin studying a few weeks in advance. Cramming the night before is rarely effective.
Know When to Say No
Whether you’re obtaining a bachelor’s degree or network administrator diploma, there will come a time when you’re given a choice between studying and doing something else. Maybe your friends will invite you to spend a night on the town during finals week, or maybe your boss will ask you to work an extra shift when you have a term paper due. Sometimes it may be okay to say yes, but at other times your performance could suffer. Knowing when to decline could make a big difference in your term GPA.
Find a Quiet Workspace
Just because you’re taking classes online doesn’t mean you can — or should — do work just anywhere. Some places, such as a living room or bedroom, just lend themselves to distractions: you’ll get much more done if you find an appropriate workspace. Public libraries or a dedicated study room in your home are ideal.