Studying online has become an increasingly popular way of getting your degree. If you’re thinking of using distance learning to further your education by getting either a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree, knowing how to stay motivated and work towards achieving your goals in this educational setting is important. Since online students don’t have the same advantages compared to students learning on campus when it comes to socializing with peers and getting face to face tutoring, they need to be skilled at motivating themselves and leading their own education since they will often have more flexibility and freedom compared to on-campus students when it comes to deciding where and when they want to study.
There is no denying that online study can have a wide range of different benefits for students. It allows students to gain their degree from the comfort of their own home and often in a way that is flexible enough to allow them to continue working full-time while studying or continue to uphold other commitments such as looking after a family without disruption. However, the flexible nature of an online degree means that a high degree of self-motivation and self-discipline is needed for students to succeed. With no need to attend lectures in person on-campus, it can be easier than you realize for an online student to get distracted and procrastinate, which can lead to problems. Finding the motivation to study from home and succeed is not always easy, but the good news is that it can successfully be done with the right strategies.
Choose the Right Degree Program for You
When you’re studying for a degree online, choosing the right degree program for you is important. Ideally, you should choose a degree program that is centered around a subject that you enjoy and are passionate about. It is always easy to study a subject that you enjoy and are able to easily get excited about, so it’s worth taking the time before you begin to consider why you want to get an online degree and which subject is likely to be the best option for you. There are hundreds of different online degree options that are now available from a wide range of different colleges such as St. Bonaventure University, so finding one that is best suited for you and provides you with the option to study something that you are passionate enough about to keep up with at home is not difficult. If you’re not sure about the career that you want to do in the future or exactly what you’d like to do with your online degree program, it’s worth choosing something that you love as this will likely lead to a variety of different career paths that are highly suited to your skills and interests.
Plan Your Study Schedule
Once you have decided on the online degree that you want to study, it’s a good idea to think about your schedule and commitments to determine when will be the best times for you to study. Many students who get a degree online are also dealing with other commitments such as working full-time or looking after their families. Because of this, having a set schedule in place that you can follow when it comes to figuring out the times that you want to study from home can be very helpful. Having a set time each day that you will dedicate to studying can make it easier for you to stay motivated by helping you to get into a routine and avoid procrastination. Sitting down to determine when you have free time to study throughout each day will make it easier for you to determine a routine that works well for you and allows you to get everything completed while still making time for you to spend time for yourself doing the thing that you enjoy.
Create a Distraction-Free Study Space
Another useful strategy to consider when you are starting out with an online degree and want to stay motivated is to create a study space that is free from distractions where you can easily focus on the work that needs to be done. When you are studying from home, one of the main issues that you might face is distractions around the home that threaten to take your focus away from your education. Unlike studying on-campus where you can access quiet classrooms and the campus library, studying at home often means that you are surrounded by everyday distractions like your family members, the TV, household chores, and more. To avoid getting easily distracted by a pile of laundry or doing the dishes, creating a separate study space in your home where you can go to focus solely on your education is a good idea. A spare bedroom, sunroom, garage, or basement makes an ideal option for this. If you do not have a separate room in your home where you can go to study, a corner of an existing room that you can keep as free from distractions as possible is an ideal alternative.
Take Regular Breaks
When you are studying for an online degree from home, it’s important to ensure that you schedule regular time for yourself. Taking breaks is often just as important as working hard since without taking a break, you’re not going to have the energy and motivation that you need to do well. Studying from home means that there is no time where you actually leave the classroom or the campus, and just like working from home, you could end up falling into the trap of studying more often than is healthy or studying at unsociable hours just because it is there. However, working flat-out for an extended period of time without taking a short break is not good for your mental or physical health, and ultimately won’t be good for your grades either. Creating a schedule where you can fit in short breaks throughout your study session will make it easier for you to stay focused by taking a step away from the work every so often to refresh your mind. And, it’s also important to take longer breaks – at least one day away from both studying and working per week is important to keep yourself from burning out.
Look After Your Health
Staying healthy, fit, and strong is not only important for staying in the best physical shape but will also benefit your motivation and energy levels while you are studying for an online degree. If you’re living on energy drinks and convenience foods, you will quickly begin to feel tired and sluggish which will ultimately make it harder for you to focus on your studies and get the best grades. Looking after your health is especially important if you are working full-time and studying for a full-time online degree at the same time since ultimately, you’re going to need the extra brainpower. Eating a healthy diet is not only good for your body but will also benefit your brain and in turn your ability to focus and concentrate on your education. And, regular exercise will not only keep you physically fit and strong, but will also help to clear your mind and lift your mood, which ultimately leads to better focus, problem-solving skills, and other important cognitive abilities that you will need while studying for your online degree.
Get Enough Sleep
When your study area is in your spare bedroom and you can access your online degree from your laptop at any time while you are at home, it can certainly be tempting to work late into the night to get things done. If you’re juggling work, home life and studying for your online degree at the same time, it can definitely be tempting to sacrifice some sleep to make sure that you have enough time to get everything done. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that losing sleep will eventually harm your health and can put you at a higher risk of becoming burned out. Waking up earlier in the morning to get things done is always a better option compared to working late into the night as, even if you do give yourself enough time to get everything done, working right up until the moment you go to bed can harm your ability to fall asleep and can lead to insomnia. Throughout studying for your online degree, it’s important to make sure that you are getting an optimal amount of sleep per night, which for adults is between seven and nine hours.
Use Stress Management Techniques
While studying online can often be less stressful compared to studying on-campus since there is no commuting, you have the ability to work to a flexible schedule that suits you best, and you will often save money at the same time, this is not to say that getting an online degree doesn’t have the potential to be a source of stress. When you are studying online and continuing to work full-time, it can quickly become a major source of pressure in your life. Using a range of stress management techniques that work well for you can be an ideal way to stay in control and avoid stress-related issues when you are studying online. Breathing exercises, journaling, regular exercise and meeting with a therapist on a regular basis are all some of the best things that you can do to stay in control of your stress levels and avoid things becoming too much for you to handle.
Socialize and Build Your Network
While studying online is very different to studying on-campus when it comes to socializing and meeting new people, the good news is that online students are not completely isolated from their peers. In fact, there are often many opportunities to socialize and make friends when studying for an online degree. There are usually options that are set up by the school such as online chat rooms and forums, and student-led socializing including Facebook groups and group chats that you can get involved with. A quick search on social media might be an ideal way for you to find other students from your program that you will be able to meet and get to know. Many online programs also understand that it is important for some students to get to know each other in person, so will arrange meet-ups and events that you can attend throughout the year.
Choose a School Close to Home
Many online degree programs are offered by established colleges that also offer campus-based programs. If you are choosing to study for an online degree at a college that has a campus, it’s worth considering if you will benefit from a college that is closer to home. Although one of the benefits of studying online is that you have a wider range of colleges to choose from since location is not an issue, some students find that having the use of the campus facilities can help them stay motivated. If you are studying at a campus in your local area, being able to go and use the library and meet other students can help to keep you focused on the work.
Ask for Help
There’s nothing wrong with asking for additional help and support if you need it. In fact, many online programs encourage students to speak up and ask for support when it is needed rather than suffering in silence. Most online schools will offer a lot of services that you can use to get additional support including extra classes for topics that you might be struggling with, career advice and counseling, mental health support, childcare support, financial support and more. Struggling while studying is a sure way to kill your motivation, so bear in mind that you don’t have to go through any of it alone and there will often be services in place that are there for students in your situation to use.
Studying online is an ideal option for many degree students today. Staying motivated when studying from home can be challenging, however, so keep these strategies in mind to get the best results.