Everything You Need to Successfully Complete an Online Degree

successfully complete an online degree

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  • Online education has transformed the working world.

    While in the past, you could absolutely continue your education after you had begun your career, the options were less than ideal.

    You either had to take time out from your career in order to tackle that further qualification full-time, or you had to attend night school.

    Night school was restricting. You had an additional commute, and your options would be limited to what was within reach.

    Correspondence degrees have also been around for many decades, with the first correspondence degrees occurring through the post around 100 years ago. These degrees left a lot to be desired.

    The social element of learning cannot be stressed enough. It is why on-campus education is still the preferred option for young people just starting out. For those who have already begun their careers or who need to work to support themselves now, the options weren’t good – that is, of course, until the pandemic.

    Online education and degrees did exist before the pandemic, but the tools and infrastructure were lacking. Since the pandemic and global lockdown, however, massive new investments into online education have been made, including new formats and new providers.

    What this means for you, the working professional is that you can not only complete an online degree to help you with your career, you can enjoy a great experience throughout the process.

    Continuing education is in the best interest of everyone and can help you find the perfect specialty that suits you and your goals.

    With an online degree, you can gain even further qualifications, or you can branch out and become even more skilled in your field. Both options are great for your career, regardless of whether you officially need those higher qualifications or you don’t.

    Reasons to Choose an Online Degree

    Online degrees are often the go-to option for those who are already working or those who have already gone to university in a full-time capacity and don’t need to go back for the in-person benefits. Those who either need to work while they study or those looking for second-career options, are all people who should and would benefit from an online education specifically.

    Some careers may benefit from online education right from the outset. In nursing, for example, you will almost always benefit from working within healthcare while tackling an online degree designed for that purpose.

    There are full-time, dedicated nursing degrees available, of course, but the combination of real-world experience and a degree is going to better prepare you nine times out of ten.

    There are many reasons to choose an online degree, especially later in life:

    It Can be Cheaper and More Accessible

    Online degrees allow you to reduce living costs and can help you reduce the overall debt you need to take on in order to complete them. They tend to be cheaper in the first place, and when you take into account that you can live at home, with your parents, or find a place that is in a cheaper part of town or the state while still attending one of the top universities or colleges, the savings can and will start to add up.

    If you continue to work while tackling your degree, then you can work to pay off the costs as you go. Depending on the program and how much time you have to complete your degree, you can take one course on at a time and not take on the next until you can pay for the next course outright.

    Living at home while working and studying, rather than moving into dorms, is an easy way to save a significant amount of money. In some places, it can be cheaper to live in a hotel than in dorms. Staying at home instead of moving anywhere will immediately make your degree more accessible and budget-friendly.

    It’s Perfect for Kickstarting a Second Career

    Retraining can feel like taking a step back, but if you don’t like the way forward any longer, then retraining is the best option. In some fields, it can actually be essential if you want to make a career change. In nursing, for example, progressing through your career means specializing. If you want to change tracks later on, when you are already an APRN, then you will need a post-masters certificate.

    There are many reasons why you would want to add to your roster. Retraining never means giving up your previous experience or credentials, but it does open you up to a new branch and career. In some cases, retraining may need to occur when the options around you change.

    For example, nurses may be interested in obtaining a post-master’s family nurse practitioner certificate after their state expands their practice autonomy. Not every state currently allows FNPs to open up their own practice, though this will likely change as the need for FNPs grows.

    Post-mater’s certificates are faster to achieve than full MSNs and are designed for working nurses in mind. You can click here to learn more about post-master’s certificates, and also how they are designed specifically for working professionals.

    • It’s the Best Way to Further Specialize

      In most cases, you can and will want to take an online degree when you want to further specialize later on in your career. Nurses do this all the time because their work is too essential, and yet the benefits of progressing and advancing their skill set and qualifications while continuing to work extend beyond public benefit.

      Working while you study allows you to put what you learn to use, either practically or at least holistically. The further you specialize, the more often you are trained into leadership, so you can start to put those soft skills to use and practice them in ways you simply cannot do when you take a full-time, on-campus career.

    • To Branch Out Your Skills

      You can specialize in two ways. The first is by advancing your credential in the same topic; the second is by branching out. Being a jack of all trades may mean you are not a master of one, but it can be the best way to position yourself as a one-of-a-kind candidate.

      When you start a second career, you will also be branching out your skills because you will never erase the work you have put in so far. Use all of your credentials to stand out and bring something unique to the table, and you can truly do something unique with your career.

    Tips to Help You Complete an Online Degree

    Online degrees, of course, have a few challenges and being prepared to face said challenges can completely change the experience you have while taking them. This applies to everyone, but especially if it has been a while since you were in an educational setting.

    It can be difficult to get back into the swing of things, so use these tips to help you successfully complete an online degree:

    • If You Dedicate Yourself Full Time

      Though it isn’t conventional, you can dedicate yourself to a full-time, online degree. You will be able to finish it faster and will be able to save by avoiding living costs and high maintenance fees associated with moving and living on-campus.

      You won’t get the same experience, of course, which is why online degrees are more appropriate for those who are either working and studying or those later in life who have decided another degree or direction is right for their career.

    • Find Several Study Settings

      It can be difficult to manage your own time, so the best place to start is to scope out places where you can work on your degree. Your local library is going to be an excellent place to start, but you can also work in community and art centers, in cafes, and in coworking spaces (though this last option often requires you to pay for your seat).

      You will want to have a good at-home setup, but by having a variety of options, you can keep it fresh and exciting. You will find which environment you can work most effectively in and will want to stick with it.

      Change it up once in a while just to benefit from the variety, but know how you work and what works best for you. If working from home is too distracting, then find another location.

    • Be Consistent with Your Routine

      The best way to be consistent is to make studying a routine. Break this routine up, so you don’t feel too much pressure or burn yourself out every day, even if you technically have more hours at once to recover.

      For example, after waking up and having breakfast watch a lecture or two and take notes. Give yourself a long break and then in the afternoon spend a few more hours.

      Work these study periods between any appointments or seminars you need to attend so that everything is spaced comfortably between and you can work within a healthy timeframe.

    • If You Work and Study

      If you are working full time and tackling a degree, then managing your energy is going to be very important. On top of having the right location to study in and also breaking up your efforts, you will need to take better care of your health and energy.

    • Improve Your Diet

      One of the first things to look at improving when trying to manage both a degree and a career is your diet. Switch out foods that are high in sugar, salt, and saturated fats, and replace them with foods that help you get more out of what you eat.

      There are many foods that work to increase your energy levels more consistently throughout the day, as opposed to foods high in processed sugar that inevitably leave you with a sugar crash.

    • Improve Your Sleep Quality

      No food or drink will ever give you the same quality of energy that you will enjoy after a good night’s rest. Getting that good night’s sleep, however, can feel like an impossible task – especially if you live in an urban area.

      Start by improving your bedroom. Get black-out curtains, better quality sheets that provide better temperature control, and set your room up so that it is always a comfortable 60 – 67 degrees Fahrenheit, which is universally considered the best temperature to sleep in.

      From there, it’s all about going to bed at the same time and waking up at the same time. Avoid blue-white or bright white light for a few hours before bed, and try to do a relaxing activity before bed that allows your mind to wind down for the best results.

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    • Exercise

      Exercise can be tiring, but you don’t need to lose weight or build up muscle to enjoy the energy-boosting benefits of exercise. Start your day with stretches and light exercises to wake up the body and get the blood flowing.

      If you do any exercise, go for walks, runs, or bike rides outside. You don’t need to exert yourself or push yourself to the limit; you just need to get your body working so that you can increase oxygen flow throughout your body but, most importantly, your brain.

    • Stress Management

      Studying and working is stressful, and without proper stress management techniques, you will find yourself burnout out. Getting exercise outside can help with stress relief both due to the naturally destressing effects of nature and the benefits of exercise. Relying on friends, family, and your peers can also help.

      Take breaks that help you reset, eat better, see friends, and rely on mental health services as required. The resources and methods that you use here can and should be used throughout your life to help you fight stress and lead a better, more fulfilling life.

      Completing an online degree means going in with the right intentions, finding the right degree, and adapting your routine to best suit your needs. You can achieve your goals, and you can do it easily, so long as you prepare and follow the tips in this guide.

    Image Credit: successfully complete an online degree by envato.com

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