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How to Juggle Online Study With a Busy Lifestyle

Many young people are sold the dream of studying hard, earning good grades, and going to college to earn the degree they need to land their ideal job.

For some, that’s the exact route they go on to achieve, but for others, this formula is simply not attainable. Life often has a way of disrupting even the hardiest of plans.

However, you are never too old to study and enhance your job prospects – and opportunities to learn online are available to most of us.

The reality can be somewhat difficult. People with busy 9-to-5 careers, young families to take care of, and busy lives to lead may argue that they simply don’t have the time to take on an extra course of study.

However, many of us would be amazed at how much time we waste by procrastinating or mindlessly scrolling through our social media feeds.

Could we put that time to better use? Distance learning courses are more flexible than you might think.

An online journalism master’s degree, for example, can be studied completely at home and at a pace that suits you. The course is designed to fit your day-to-day schedule, not the other way around.

Many online degrees allow you to graduate within 18 months, which means you won’t have to spend years waiting to finally get your hands on your certification.

If you’d like to know more about online study courses, here are some other advantages to using your laptop at home to earn a degree.

Communicate with Ease

The internet is perhaps not all it’s cracked up to be at times, but in terms of being able to communicate with people all over the world, the web has been an outstanding innovation.

One of the primary concerns for long-distance students is that they fear they are going to miss out on the interactions that on-campus learners have with tutors, mentors, or their fellow students.

However, online learning can bridge that gap using a variety of tools, whether it’s video platforms such as Skype or Zoom or dedicated whiteboard portals where learners are free to communicate with their peers and tutors directly.

These services are quick, easy to use, and free of charge, and while they perhaps don’t replicate the benefits of speaking to somebody face to face, they are a pretty good alternative for those pursuing an online course!

Those who choose to take this path will find themselves in good company.

The latest stats suggest that more than seven million people in America are undertaking a distance learning course, so it is evident that this is a way of advancing your career or simply learning more about an area of interest in a manner that is becoming increasingly commonplace.

Suit Your Schedule

Another misconception about distance learning is that your life will be overtaken by study sessions and writing assignments, which means you’ll have to say goodbye to your social life, hobbies, and time spent with friends and family.

However, nothing could be further from the truth. Institutions that offer online degree courses understand that many of their students want and need complete flexibility, and that’s why many modes of study are completely malleable.

You can slot in tutorials, lectures, and other forms of learning on days to suit you, whether you have a job, a young family, or other commitments to attend to.

What is interesting about undertaking an online degree course is that it equips you with valuable skills beyond your qualification.

Time management, balancing different projects, and being able to work independently are just three skills that employers seek from their staff.

Therefore, distance learning can enhance your employability in more ways than just the certificate with your name on it at the end of your course.

Quality of Education

Some people wonder whether learning online means they have to suffer in terms of the quality of their education compared to on-campus learners.

That may have been true in the past, but thanks to the internet, it is easy to watch videos, actively participate in live discussions, download course materials, exchange ideas on message boards, and communicate with instructors via tools such as WhatsApp and Facetime.

An added bonus is that class sizes tend to be much smaller with online courses, so you can access a more personalized learning experience, as opposed to being just another number on a crowded campus.

As you can see, there is no need for your quality of education to suffer through online learning.

In fact, many traditional forms of study are increasingly incorporating online elements as well, so there’s an increasing reliance on technology no matter how you choose to learn these days.

A Cost-Effective Education

One of the perks of going to college for younger learners is the chance to experience life away from home for the first time.

However, the decision to live on campus or in private accommodation comes with its associated costs, and they can be eye-wateringly high.

To study from home, all you need is a computer and an internet connection; any other tools you choose to deploy are up to you.

It really is the most cost-effective way to earn a qualification in your chosen course of study, making online learning a great option for those on lower budgets or with other financial commitments.

Increase Your Employability

Plenty of people undertake further education as a hobby or to increase their learning of a specific subject.

For the most part, however, the main rationale behind earning an online degree is to improve your employability – whether it’s to increase your job prospects at the company you work for (or the industry they operate in) or to make a complete career change and getting a fresh start.

The hard work and effort that goes into an online degree course can yield plenty of rewards in the long run.

Tips for Effective Online Learning

As we have learned, there are many good reasons to embark on an online degree course, and having a busy life is not a valid excuse for putting it on the back burner.

The flexibility in scheduling ensures that distance learning is for everyone – no matter how your days shape up.

If you are still concerned about how you could fit everything in, here are some tips on how to get the very best out of your online studies without compromising in other areas of your life.

Be Organized

Even though the conditions of an online degree are different from a more traditional mode of study, that’s not to say that your approach should change in any way.

You should approach your learning as you would in any other course. You must ensure that you give yourself plenty of time to complete assignments and other degree work, but you should also make sure that you have downtime to live your life to the fullest.

Drawing up a schedule, whether it is a couple of days or a handful of weeks in advance, will help you to better plan your time and help you enjoy the flexibility to juggle as many metaphorical balls as possible.

Location, Location, Location

It is remarkable just how different we all are when it comes to studying. Some of us need complete silence to work effectively, whereas others actively seek out background noise to help them concentrate on the task at hand.

Some students need an office-style desk and computer setup to afford them a professional way of thinking, while others are happy enough just bunkering down in bed with their laptop and an endless supply of coffee.

The point is that we are all different when it comes to maximizing our productivity and potential, and you, as an individual, need to seek out the kind of remote working environment from which you can achieve your best output without distractions.

It is recommended that you create a workspace that will help you to switch your brain into study mode.

Whether that means decluttering the spare room, creating a new space in a corner of your living room or simply removing all the junk lying on top of your desk, your productivity will ultimately increase if you have created a mindful environment.

Others may choose to work in an external place away from home. It could be a library, a coffee shop or even the local park.

Whatever works for you in terms of getting you in the right frame of mind to study should be your “happy place” that will power you through your online degree.

Eliminate Distractions

Look up any research study into how productive remote workers are compared to working at the office, and you might be surprised to learn that there is no significant drop-off in output.

However, that is not to say that home working doesn’t require a tremendous amount of discipline and fortitude – especially when there’s Netflix, game consoles, and other distractions lurking in the corner of your eye.

To get the most out of your studies, you really need to eliminate these distractions as best as you can. Procrastination can lead to you picking up your phone, which in turn can lead to minutes spent scrolling through social media and watching cat videos.

Those minutes can add up and ultimately undermine your ability to get the best out of your study time.

Turning your phone to silent mode and putting it in a drawer or another room could prove to be savvy – out of sight, out of mind.

If you really need your handset close by, you can use dedicated apps that enable you to silence specific apps and websites for a given period, which means you won’t be on the receiving end of those concentration-busting notifications.

Build Networks

It goes without saying that the vast majority of your learning will come via the course materials, lectures and tutorials.

Nevertheless, you really shouldn’t underestimate the power of peer-to-peer learning, with your classmates often able to break down topics that you are struggling to comprehend in a more manageable way than academics who have been teaching the subject for years.

There is no doubt that actively engaging in discourse will improve your understanding and perhaps even enhance your enjoyment of your degree.

Many online courses will have forums and discussion boards related to your subject, and these are a great place to stop by, make friends and discuss any areas of your learning that you are struggling with.

If the forum or discussion board is quiet, don’t be afraid to be the first to post a topic there.

Many times, distance learners can be shy when it comes to engaging with their fellow classmates who, for the most part, they may never have met in person before.

Make it a part of your daily study time to log on to the forum and read and reply to any messages, as this will help to stimulate conversation that could unlock the door in terms of your understanding of the subject matter.

Sometimes, all we need is the reassurance that others are feeling the same as we are when assignments are mounting up, or exam dates are looming.

These online groups are an invaluable resource both in your learning and your personal wellbeing, so don’t be too quick to dismiss them.

Be Good to Yourself

You don’t need to be a budding biologist to know that the human brain has different receptors and that one of those is linked to rewards.

In short, we all release endorphins when we sense that a reward is incoming, and this scientific process can be used in your studying.

Commit to spending a certain period of time studying, safe in the knowledge that you will do something you enjoy at the end of the session.

It could even be something as simple as having a drink or a bite to eat outside for 15 minutes – anything that recharges the mind and body.

You can use rewards as motivational tools, too. There’s nothing wrong with that, and these can stimulate you to learn better when facing bigger assignments.

Healthy Body, Healthy Mind

This list of tips for studying effectively, even when you are busy with other commitments, would be incomplete without mentioning the importance of a healthy body and mind.

If you eat healthy food and exercise on a regular basis, studies have proven that you can concentrate for longer periods of time without hitting a metaphorical wall.

A healthy lifestyle can actually help you to retain information more effectively, too, which any online student will confirm is of paramount importance.

Chaining yourself to your desk is a bad idea for a number of reasons, and it is vital that you get outside as often as you can.

The sun’s rays, even on non-sunny days, emit vitamin D, which is vital for energy and to help your body power itself.

It may be tempting to call for takeout when you’re snowed under with work. After all, who wants to spend time cooking after studying for hours on end?

Once again, however, what you put into your body will ultimately be reflected in what you get out of it. Healthy meals are just as important when it comes to studying.

Taking regular breaks from your screens will do wonders for your eyes, too. If you suffer from headaches, scheduling regular rest intervals can help you alleviate this problem.

See the Bigger Picture

There are moments in any mode of study where the workload feels challenging, where you are struggling with a particular topic, or where you simply don’t feel there is enough time in the day to get everything done.

Try not to worry. You may be surprised by how many people feel the same way as you do.

The beauty of online degree courses is that you are never alone, and help – whether it is practical in nature from an instructor or motivational from your fellow classmates – is never far away, thanks to the wonders of modern technology.

It’s important to focus on the reason that you decided to undertake your online degree in the first place.

We’ve already touched upon what this might be – from furthering your career and bolstering your resumé to enhancing your understanding of a particular subject.

It is always worth reminding yourself of this bigger picture when the going gets tough in your studies.

In the end, securing your online degree could be the best thing that ever happens to you from a career standpoint. It is a commitment, and it will be tough at times, but the rewards speak for themselves – and you’d be amazed by how easily you can flexibly fit studies into your busy lifestyle.

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