How to make the most of your online bachelor’s degree
If you’re interested in completing your bachelor’s degree online, there are many tips and tricks you can employ to make your educational experience rewarding.
Develop good time management skills
Many individuals who enroll in online degree programs are working professionals who have other demands on their time, such as families or full-time jobs. Furthermore, students will need to keep up with their online classes, study and complete assignments efficiently. That’s why it’s a smart idea to learn good time-management skills before you begin your online degree program, as opposed to scrambling to change your habits once the year is in full swing.
There are many resources available that can help you develop your time-management skills. MindTools has a list of 61 techniques that can help you be a more effective and organized worker. Some of these include making smart to-do lists, setting meaningful goals and “timeboxing,” or dedicating specific periods of time to accomplishing certain tasks. These tips can help you work smarter, not harder, so you can stay on top of your online schoolwork without sacrificing your other responsibilities.
Create a schedule for success
Part of good time management is creating a realistic schedule for completing the courses of your online bachelor degree. Without a schedule, you may be left trying to complete your work only when you have a chance block of free time – and this means that sometimes work may be left undone. Avoid falling behind by creating a clear schedule. This way, you can know that you will have time to complete your work.
Write out all the responsibilities you have in a typical week – such as a job, family duties, grocery shopping and other demands. See where you have free time, and schedule your coursework for these blocks. The bachelor’s suite of online programs at the University of Alabama at Birmingham are 100-percent online and available 24/7 so you can access your course modules when it is convenient for you. For some people, this means using early morning time to work, while for others it means studying after work at night or on the weekends.
When creating your schedule, you should also look ahead and identify any special events or dates that may interfere with your studies. Be sure to plan around these. In addition, mark the turn-in dates for assignments or exams on your calendar to stay organized.
Finally, make sure you let your family and friends know what your set times are for studying. This way, you can minimize distractions and stay focused on your work.
Be flexible when necessary
In addition to setting a specific schedule, many students supplement their blocks of studying by using their free time creatively. For example, some students work on their studies during their morning commute on the train or bus, or study on their lunch breaks from work. Even small snippets of time can add up, so looking for ways to use spare moments to study between responsibilities can be very helpful for busy students or those juggling full-time jobs and families.
Keep the big picture in mind
As you go through your online degree program, keep the big picture – graduation – in mind. Mark the date when you’re set to complete the program on your calendar. Looking ahead to this date can help motivate you and keep you accountable. The days go by quickly, so ensure you’re making the most of every moment and fully engaging with your work every step of the way. The reward at the end of the road is valuable knowledge, marketable skills and the confidence that you can achieve your professional and personal goals.
Have a dedicated workspace
As much as possible, try to set up a designated area for completing your work. This could be your home office, a desk at the local library or a table at a nearby coffee shop. If your schedule means you have to move around, you could even set up several special spots. The benefits of having a designated workspace are that it gives you a place to complete your assignments and coursework without distraction, has everything easily accessible that you need, such as your computer or notebooks, and gets you in the mindset for work every time you sit down. If your space is at home, make sure your family knows that it is a special area where you will be doing your work and need quiet time to yourself. Through creating this space, you can avoid outside interference and reduce distractions, U.S. News & World Report noted.
Learn good study skills
Good study skills help you use your time effectively and stay on top of your online coursework. Take care to think about the mindset you have when approaching your work. Have a positive attitude, and be confident in your abilities. Avoid comparing yourself with what you perceive others to be doing, and instead aim to do your personal best. It also helps to take frequent breaks to help refresh your mind – for example, take a 20-minute break for every 1 hour of studying. You can also make flashcards, take practice exams, if available, or recruit a friend or family member to quiz you.
A common misconception is that online classes don’t offer the same level of engagement with the course material as on-campus classes do. Take every opportunity to share your thoughts and participate in your online courses, such as through signing up for webinars or taking part in discussions on online message boards. On these forums, you can post questions and answers and converse about the topics covered in your courses with your classmates as well as your professors. Being an active and intellectually engaged participant in your course helps you develop a better understanding of the material and become a better-rounded learner in general. It’s also a smart idea to keep up with your industry, outside of the degree program. For example, students pursing a Bachelor of Science in Management degree can read top industry publications like the Academy of Management Journal and the Journal of Management Studies, while students in the online marketing program may be interested in the Journal of Consumer Research or Marketing Science.
Communicate frequently with your professors
The professors of reputable online degree programs are experts in their fields, publishing papers and research in their study areas or holding high-level professional positions. Through this experience, they bring a wealth of valuable knowledge to the students of the online classes they teach. Even though you are not taking classes on campus, you can still develop positive rapport with your professors. Reach out to them to introduce yourself, even before classes start, and ask for insight about their experiences as well as if there are aspects of the coursework that are particularly interesting to you. With this knowledge, you can gain a deeper understanding of the material as well as the professional opportunities possibly available in your field after graduation.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions, either. If something in the course doesn’t make sense to you, or you’re not sure why you received a certain grade on a paper or other assignment, ask your professor for further information and guidance. This way, you can help make sure you’re always improving during your bachelor’s degree journey.
Prepare for your career
Many students enroll in online bachelor’s degree programs because they want to advance in their careers. As you study and complete your courses, work on developing your professional opportunities. For example, if you’re enrolled in an online accounting program, learn more about companies where you may like to work after graduation, and then explore job vacancies or professional development programs at these organizations. Also, seek out networking opportunities, through industry associations and groups active in your local community or through social media. Professors are also valuable sources of networking advice.
Students in online degree programs should also be sure to use all the resources available to them at the university they are attending. For example, students enrolled in any of the suite of online bachelor’s degree programs at the University of Alabama at Birmingham have access to Career & Professional Development Services, which provide resume, interviewing and job search tips. Through these services, students also have access to HireABlazer, an online career management site for students, alumni and employers that can help students find exciting jobs and networking opportunities.
Reach your goals with UAB
If you’re ready to embark on your professional journey, learn more about the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s bachelor’s suite of online programs. The seven online business programs – in Accounting, Finance, Human Resource Management, Industrial Distribution, Information Systems, Management and Marketing – help students develop the in-demand skills and knowledge that may help them advance in their careers. And with 24/7 online courses, students who are working professionals or have family obligations can complete their coursework on their own schedules. Don’t put your dreams on hold – learn more about the suite of online bachelor’s degree programs at the University of Alabama at Birmingham here.