Leading Tips For Excelling in Your Online Degree Program



Online learning has been enjoying a huge boom in popularity over the last few years. This was partly due to the COVID-19 pandemic forcing colleges and universities around the world to move to digital teaching, but not entirely. In fact, distance learning has long been a preferred option for those who have work or family obligations that prevent them from attending a traditional course on campus. So if this is the path that you’ve chosen to embark on, rest assured that you’ll be receiving the same high standard of education as you would on an in-person program.

Having said that, if you have never undertaken any form of virtual learning before, you might understandably be a little apprehensive about the prospect. Online study is, of course, different to learning in a physical classroom, but with the right preparation, you can give yourself every chance of succeeding at it. Keep reading for more information on what to expect from an online degree and top tips on how to excel on one.

What Kind of Subjects Can I Study Online?

Before looking in more detail at online learning, it’s worth briefly discussing the sorts of subjects you can study this way. You might be surprised to learn that these days it’s not only purely academic subjects such as history and philosophy that you can study online, but also more vocational subjects like nursing.

That’s because many online degrees are taught in a hybrid fashion, where you do your academic coursework online and then your practical placements in person at a suitable location near to where you live. The upshot of this is that the options open to you for virtual learning are almost limitless. All you need is a strong internet connection and a computer – plus, of course, the desire to learn!

What does an Online Degree Program Involve?

The experience of studying for an online degree will vary somewhat depending on the subject you study and the college you are enrolled with. However, you can expect to use at least some of the following digital learning and teaching methods:

  • prerecorded or live video lectures by professors, often with accompanying slides
  • live Zoom seminars with a small group of fellow students and a professor
  • online discussion boards and digital forums
  • online reading materials, such as journal articles, book chapters, and academic papers
  • audio and visual resources
  • interactive online quizzes and tests
  • case studies
  • group projects
  • individual research projects
  • written assignments and exams
  • oral exams conducted via Zoom

Most colleges have their own software to make your study experience as smooth and beneficial as possible. For example, the Central Christian College of Kansas uses a virtual campus system called Canvas, which allows you to have instant access to learning materials, seamlessly connect with other students and your instructors, and get handy customized notifications. You can even get an app for your cellphone!

Regardless of the specific methods and software you use, you will always have access to a broad range of support services if you require them. Plus, your instructors will be only an email or instant message away when you have questions. In addition, colleges usually run an induction and orientation event in advance of the first semester to help you get used to their particular system in plenty of time.

What are The Advantages of Doing an Online Degree?

Choosing to take your degree online can bring you a whole wealth of benefits. Firstly, there’s the extra flexibility it allows in your academic life – rather than being required to attend classes at specific times; you can plan your study sessions around your existing work and family commitments, as well as your hobbies. That enables early birds to get their learning in before heading to the office and night owls to hit the books late in the evening. As such, online degrees are especially popular with mature students who already have children and an established career.

This flexibility also extends to the location in which you study. Instead of having to go to a classroom or lecture hall, you can learn from the comfort of your own home. Alternatively, if you don’t have a suitable home office space, you could take your laptop to a coffee shop or local library and do your work there. As an extra benefit, this enables you to create your own ideal study environment, for instance, by choosing whether to have a spot of background music or absolute silence as you work.

Another advantage to bear in mind is that an online degree is often cheaper than a traditional course. One reason for this is that the tuition fees tend to be lower, but it’s also because you can save a lot of money on extra costs such as commuting to campus, finding accommodation during the semester, and so on. It’s no secret that college can be expensive, so this is a big help.

Lastly, studying for a degree online can enable you to gain a wide variety of other skills in addition to knowledge of your chosen subject. These include transferable life skills such as organization, time management, discipline and self-motivation – all of which will be useful in your future career and make you more attractive to potential employers. This is because you will be taking a greater level of responsibility for your learning, just as you will with your tasks in the workplace.

Similarly, another set of skills you will develop through the virtual study are tech skills. You’ll learn how to use cutting-edge software in a supportive environment, which helps you to become more comfortable using computers and online tools. This can give you a boost in the workplace, too, because a lot of companies are incorporating the same sort of technology into their own intranet systems. Not to mention, the internet is such a huge part of our daily lives that those skills are sure to come in handy on a personal level too.

How Can I Make Sure I Excel in my Online Degree?

Now that you know why online learning can be so advantageous let’s look at how you can excel during your virtual studies. Here are some top tips for success:

  • Set up a dedicated study space in your home where you can work on your assignments in peace and comfort. This could be anything from an entire home office to a table in the living room, depending on how much room you have available. If possible, choose a spot that is well lit to help you avoid eye strain. It’s also important to set up your desk ergonomically in order to maintain a good posture during long hours of study. Having an assigned study spot is a great way to prime your brain for learning every time you sit down!
  • Work out a study schedule that suits any work or family obligations you have, and then do your best to stick to it. As part of this, consider what times of the day you tend to have the best focus. It’s up to you whether you want to study in short blocks throughout the week, or longer periods on one or two days – but either way, be sure to assign specific times for college work. This will help you to stay on track and meet your deadlines.
  • If you’ve never done any online learning before, try signing up for a free short course before your degree begins. This can be a great way to get used to the style of study, try out some digital learning tools, and figure out your preferred style of working. It can be helpful to choose a topic that’s relevant to your degree, but don’t feel you have to!
  • Do some research about online study in advance of your first semester. This can be a fantastic way to pick up some tips and prepare. For instance, you could read blogs by current students on your course or a similar one, watch videos, or even chat with the staff at your chosen college.
  • Get started on your reading list before lectures begin. You might not fully understand everything yet, but it will help to lay the foundations for what you’re going to learn during your degree. If you haven’t been given a list yet, contact the admissions tutor for your course and see if they can recommend some books for you.
  • Ask for help when you need it. As an online student, you are entitled to just as much support from your college as students who attend in person – so don’t be shy about it! Whether you want some study tips or careers advice, get in touch with the relevant department and ask. They’ll be happy to help! 
  • Bring family and friends on board. Let people know that you’re planning to take an online degree, as this can give you some extra motivation to succeed. Not only that – don’t be afraid to ask them for help if necessary. Whether it’s watching the kids for the day while you study or arranging meetups around your class times and deadlines, they’re sure to be eager to help you graduate with flying colours. Just remember to do the same for them if the tables are turned!


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