Going Back to School: 4 Online School Tips for Finishing Your Degree

A new semester is here, and chances are, you’ll experience it from behind a screen. 

Even before the pandemic, remote education was prevalent, allowing you to complete coursework at your own pace with a level of flexibility that’s perfect for those looking to fit a university degree into a busy lifestyle. However, remote education comes with its own challenges. You need to maintain your own schedule, assignments and organization strategies—all without the guidance of an in-person professor.

Whether you’re pursuing an online degree by choice, or coronavirus has thrown a wrench in your on-campus plans, here are four online school tips to help keep you focused, engaged and successful during this upcoming semester:

1. Know Your Strengths

Before you start your online classes, Kimberly Parke, director of admissions at Harvard Extension School, recommends a thorough examination of your strengths, weaknesses, and limitations. If you find it difficult to get up in the morning, don’t plan to study before sunrise. Do you work better in longer, dedicated periods of time, or do you need to keep things short and snappy? Adjust your schedule accordingly. 

In terms of general motivation, Parke recommends going even deeper. Why are you doing what you’re doing? Is it the prestige of the degree itself, a passion for the coursework or a dream job? To successfully navigate your new journey, whatever the motivation, reward yourself little ‘treats’ when you achieve a goal. According to Parke, “…the key is to know yourself well enough to create a routine that enables you to do your best work. And choose rewards that encourage you to stick with it until it’s done.” 

2. Get Serious About Time Management

One of the major benefits of remote education is flexibility—you have the power to set and maintain your own schedule. However, flexibility requires excellent time management and becomes a crucial skill for success in online learning environments. Northeastern shared some of their best online school tips for students looking to maximize their time management capacity:

  • Treat it like a real class: schedule specific time slots every day or every week to sit down, do your coursework or watch lectures. 
  • Make a note of major assignments: look at the syllabus at the beginning of the semester and map out significant projects on a calendar that you look at regularly. This will help you stay focused and prevent any rushed work. 
  • Try time-blocking: designate a certain amount of time for each task before moving on to the next one, setting a timer to stay in sync with your plan. 
  • Stay accountable: check in with yourself regularly. Are you really spending the amount of time you need on assignments? Do you need to make any changes to improve your productivity?

Create a Dedicated Workspace

Next from our online school tips, design and develop an environment tailored to your personal work preferences. Edology shared some of their best tips for creating a relaxing, productive workspace:

  • Choose a desk that comes up between your waist and rib cage when you sit in your chair.
  • Pay attention to lighting, and ensure the room is well-lit to your individual needs. 
  • Keep all materials close to you in an organized and dedicated location.
  • Study phoneless where possible. 

Join a Virtual Study Group

According to the experts at Florida National University, a study group is one of the best ways to understand your coursework and prepare for exams. Other students offer different perspectives and can help you gain valuable outside insight. Joining virtual study groups will also help you remain accountable and learn the source material quickly.

If your university doesn’t host its own virtual study groups, send an email to your professor to gauge interest. You may not be able to directly email your classmates, but your professor can facilitate interaction between you and your virtual colleagues.

From Day One to Degree

A degree is a fantastic achievement, and by following these online school tips, we’re sure that you’ll be walking across the virtual graduation stage in no time. Remember to plan ahead for your new virtual school work system and prepare according to your individual needs. Good luck!

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