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How to Excel When Studying an Online Degree

Doing an online degree is a lot like doing a normal, in-person degree. You will take assignments, communicate with your tutors, and gain qualifications. Where it differs, though, is that you need a lot more time management skills to succeed. There is little hand-holding when it comes to studying online, as you are in control of when and where you study. 

With enough focus, hard work, and determination, you can complete your online degree with excellent grades and long-lasting professional relationships. Whether you are studying healthcare, business, technology, or any other type of online degree, here is how to excel. 

Familiarize Yourself with the Course Material 

Before you even get started, it is a good idea to look at the course material. That way, you know what’s coming up and what you can prepare for. If you see a module that you think you might struggle with, you could even start studying in advance to ensure you don’t fall behind when the time comes. It’s also important to choose an online degree that you are genuinely interested in. If you haven’t chosen your course yet, Excelsior College online degrees have a great range of degrees that will help boost your career. 

Stick to a Rigid Study Schedule 

As you are responsible for your own studies, you must create a study schedule and religiously stick to it. If you have scheduled a two-hour study session on a Friday afternoon, don’t talk yourself out of it because you can do it on Saturday. Pushing your studies back will only mean you fall behind. Plus, no one wants to have to do a cramming session. There are plenty of student apps that are perfect for creating your weekly schedule, so all you have to do is abide by it! 

Attend Online Study Groups with Other Students 

Studying online doesn’t mean you can’t form relationships with your peers. You might not be in a physical classroom with the other students, but thanks to the internet, there are plenty of ways to communicate with them, from video calling to instant messaging. By attending regular online study groups, you will make friends with your peers while ensuring you keep up with the course material. 

Email Your Tutor When Struggling 

If you find that you are struggling with a particular part of the course, or you need to ask questions about an upcoming assignment, be sure to email your tutor. They will be more than happy to answer any questions and put you on the right track. Establish a relationship early on so that it’s easier for you to seek help when you truly need it. As well as emailing, you could also book one-on-one video meetings. 

Find a Comfortable Place to Study 

An online degree doesn’t provide physical classrooms, which means it’s up to you to find the perfect study spot. Make sure this spot is comfortable, distraction-free, and that you have easy access to it. A bustling city center coffee shop might not be the best option when you have five chapters of a textbook to analyze. Although, that is down to personal preference. 

If you are setting up a study space at home, remember to clear the area of clutter and keep the space organized. Some plants and inspiring décor will help, too. As long as it’s a place where you can focus, it will work. 

Use Time Management Apps 

Time management apps are handy for all students, especially online learners, as they help you manage your time throughout your degree. There are even apps that will block notifications from your phone for a set amount of time, helping you focus entirely on your studies. 

Keep a Healthy Lifestyle 

You might not think a healthy lifestyle is linked to your study performance, but it is. If you continuously eat poorly, don’t go outside, and don’t get enough sleep, you will struggle to focus. No matter how much pressure you are under, it’s crucial to put your health first and look after yourself. Meal planning and taking breaks to get some fresh air will help with this. 

Take Advantage of Your Learning Style 

In a classroom, teachers can’t always adapt their teaching style to suit all students. That is where you have an advantage. When you study, you can take advantage of your learning style by using it to absorb more information. Whether you are a visual learner or you prefer to listen to audio, when studying from home, you can learn whichever way helps you. 

Invest in a Good Computer 

As a lot of your studies are online, a good computer is essential. You don’t have to spend thousands on the latest laptop (unless you want to!), but you should ensure high speed and a solid internet connection. You don’t want to spend the night before an assignment is due waiting for pages to load. 

Spread Your Studying Sessions Out 

Cramming isn’t helpful for sustainable learning. If you want to succeed at your online degree, you must spread your studying sessions out. Short thirty-minute sessions about five times a week work far better than one ten-hour session at the end of the month. This requires discipline, and it is where the time management apps come in handy. 

Read, Read, Read 

As an online degree student, you must get into the habit of reading every single day. There will be an essential reading list that you must get through, but if you want to excel, you should also pick up some more relevant books to help boost your studies. Fitting reading into your schedule needn’t be too challenging. Thirty minutes in the morning with your breakfast or an hour of reading before bed will ensure you keep up with all the reading material in your course and more. 

Use the University’s Resources 

You might not be able to take out physical books, but many online universities offer resources to their students. That might come in the form of eBooks, audiobooks, or coupons to help pay for your textbooks. Be sure to check out what your university offers so that you can make the most of it. 

Cut Back on Your Social Life 

Students doing traditional courses naturally have to put their social life on hold when exam season approaches, especially when they have multiple 9 am lectures. The same must be done for online degrees when you have multiple deadlines looming. While you should certainly not cut out your friends and family, you should cut back on the late nights out when you have a lot of work to get through. You can always celebrate once you have your qualifications! 

Set Clear Goals for Yourself 

Your degree will have goals you must reach, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t also set goals for yourself. In fact, doing so will help you put the effort into excelling in your course. Be specific about your goals, too. For example, if you want to achieve a certain grade, write that down and focus on achieving that. You should also let your tutor know that that’s your aim so that they can guide you with it in mind. 

Learn to Manage Your Stress 

Stress management is crucial if you want to succeed. If you are overly stressed, you are more likely to rush important parts of the course and get worked up on an otherwise manageable module. Of course, learning to manage your stress isn’t easy. The first step is understanding the signs of stress so that you know when to take a step back. You could try some stress-relieving techniques to help, too, such as: 

  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Art Therapy 
  • Music Therapy
  • Aromatherapy

Proofread and Edit All Your Work 

Many online degrees don’t have exams. Instead, you are graded based on the assignments you send in. This means that the work you send in must be as perfect as possible. You can’t just write the first draft and send it over once you finish the last sentence – not if you want to excel, that is. Instead, set aside enough time to complete a first, second, and even third draft if you want to push yourself. Before sending an assignment in, you must also proofread and edit your work to ensure there are no grammar or information mistakes. 

Don’t Forget to Reward Yourself 

Studying too hard for too long isn’t beneficial. While it is good to push yourself, it’s also important to reward yourself from time to time, especially after handing in an assignment or receiving high grades. The next time you feel proud of yourself for how much work you put in, go ahead and reward yourself. That could mean planning a weekend getaway with your friends, ordering your favorite takeout, or going on a night out without worrying what time you will wake up the next morning. 

Online learners have an extra level of responsibility. With enough motivation, organization skills, and effort, you will push yourself to not only pass the course but to actually excel in it.