In 2020 every degree became an online degree, but only the degrees that were designed to be completed remotely allowed their students to thrive. If anything, the pandemic has really highlighted how important it is that online degrees are designed for that very purpose. A degree cannot be done online just because it’s live streamed and everything done in-person is done through a computer.
Online education can be very useful. It can be exactly what professionals around Canada and the rest of the world need in order to further their careers. It must, however, be created with remote learning in mind.
What Makes a Good Online Degree
Online degrees have two main differences from a traditional degree, especially when that traditional degree has been haphazardly translated for the digital.
The first thing that any good online degree needs to have is flexibility. Flexibility is what makes remote learning actually possible. Many students today have the same strict schedules that they had while they were on campus without any of the same campus support. It is hard to keep a good schedule when at home, especially with non-students living with you or near you that can interrupt your schedule at the drop of a hat.
All successful online degrees today are 100% online (unless there is a legal requirement to have in-person training) and are flexible. In today’s world this means that you can stretch out your education to your pace. You can work to help support yourself and your loved ones during these trying times. You can also spread out the cost and make your education more affordable.
This flexibility doesn’t mean that you don’t have deadlines or commitments, just that you have the ability to take on as little as one course at a time or can really commit and get your degree completed even faster.
Online education works, it just doesn’t work when you use the tools that work in person, online. Online degrees instead take advantage of a variety of digital tools and other online resources in order to provide students with the contextual understanding that would usually be reserved for an in-person discussion.
There are some degrees, of course, that do better online than others. Humanities degrees are harder to translate for a digital education platform than, say, a computer science degree.
An online master’s in computer science naturally fits with online learning, for example. Combine all the digital learning tools with the total flexibility to work while you study, and any young professional can further their career and make themselves invaluable to her field.
How to Choose the Right Online Degree for You
To start, online degrees are best done with post-graduate degrees. There is a lot of foundational information that you learn with a bachelor’s that is often best done and discussed in person. If you can, do it on campus, even if it means deferring a year or however long until campuses reopen.
For those who already have a bachelor’s, then an online master’s is the perfect way to further your career and your education. You can work while completing your master’s and can either further your specialization or gain a whole new skillset.
There are many options, and other than making sure that the online degree was well made, you’ll want to use this checklist to help you decide if the online master’s is right for you:
1. Understand the Future of Your Industry
If you want to be paid the big bucks and to really set yourself apart from the rest of the workforce in your field, then your skillset needs to prepare you for the future. By now you should at least know which industry or role you want to work in. Stay up to date with industry news, read articles, follow leaders, and generally try to stay up to date with the latest discourse. This way you can learn exactly where the experts of today believe that your industry’s tomorrow will lead.
Do this, and you can choose an online degree that gives you the most value for your career.
2. Explore Your Interests
There are many, many roles that are unknown to you. Give yourself the time to explore your industry and to shadow if you can. This is how you can learn what your interests are, and even how you can build a new role for yourself altogether. For example, almost every role can benefit from some knowledge in computer science. Every role can benefit from having a background in data analysis or statistics.
Tips to Help You Complete Your Online Degree
These tips will help you whether you are completing an online computer science degree, law degree, or any other type of degree. These tips can even help if you are pursuing an online diploma or other short course.
The fact of the matter is that the degree and institution you choose should, ideally, have a host of resources, tools, and support for you. What is left for you is to build on your health, your routines, and your study skills.
1. How to Stay Healthy When Working and Studying
Being healthy isn’t just about not taking sick days while you work and study. That isn’t the point of these tips at all. Instead, the goal is to feel better and have more energy. If you don’t, your body could very well feel like it’s being dragged through the mud at every single opportunity.
You want to be awake and alert throughout your day at work, and then still have the energy to understand and absorb the information you learn later on when you work on your degree. That’s all there is to it and being healthy plays a big part in this energy management.
- Start with your diet. Choose foods and snacks that provide plenty of natural energy that is, ideally, slow. Sugar and caffeine give you energy in short bursts, but then cause crashes later on. You don’t deserve to deal with that, so choose foods high in protein and other vitamins and nutrients that will give you a slower release of energy throughout the day.
- Next, you’ll want to exercise more often. Exercising can help with energy management in two ways. For one, physical tasks done throughout the day will tax you less. More importantly, however, is that exercise helps keep your brain pumped with oxygen and other nutrients. Together exercise works to help you be more alert – something that is essential both in your career and in your degree.
- Finally, the last health tip is to get a better night’s sleep. The best way to do this is to first improve the sleeping situation (darken the room, get better sheets or a more comfortable mattress) and to then stick with a strict routine. If your body gets used to going to sleep and waking up at the same time, chances are you’ll get a better, deeper night’s rest on the regular.
Study Tips to Adopt
Being awake and healthy is a good place to start. It will make it easier to absorb and process essential information. It is not, however, the only trick in the book. There are many ways to make it easier to do the work for your degree and to also lessen the stress involved.
1. Make a Study Group
There will be others who are completing your degree the same time as you. Get in touch with them and organize a study group. There are many, many ways you can go about this. You can each take a chapter from what you are learning and work to create detailed notes for each other.
You could also use video tools to host in-time study sessions where you all go through and help each other out. Even just studying, doing readings, or working on assignments with others there in the background can do wonders.
2. Revise During Dead Periods
A dead period are those times in your day where you are technically doing something, but at the same time have nothing do to. Your commute, for example, or while you are waiting for a doctor’s appointment. These are the dead times in your day where you are waiting, and they are great opportunities to revise.
How you do this will depend entirely on what your day looks like. If you take public transportation you can read, you can complete practice questions, or you can go through your notes. If you are driving you can use text-to-speak, listen to lectures, talks, or even create your own voice notes.
3. Stick to a Schedule, and Remember Breaks
Sticking to a schedule is an excellent way to make the extra work feel like a breeze, but just as scheduling when you study or work on your degree is important, so too are breaks. Find the break schedule that works for you and give yourself at least two days off from the week from studying. This way you can keep stress low, but still consistently make progress.