So, you want to return to college, it has been years since you originally graduated and your responsibilities have since piled up. In this situation, pursuing an online education is likely the best option for you to earn your advanced degree, or even to complete one that was never finished. It is no surprise that focusing on school work while attending college solely online is often more challenging than doing so while attending a traditional school. These tips can help you stay focused and make sure that you are successful in your quest to get that degree.
Find the Time
Being busy is an inevitability of adulthood, whether due to kids, a spouse, a full-time job or all of the above. Finding time during the week to focus on school work can be difficult, but it is possible if earning your advanced degree is important to you. Some lucky individuals are born with the ability to focus on all their responsibilities at once. Their minds can switch modes from parent to employee to student at a moment’s notice. Most people, however, require some time, and some physical distance, between each obligation.
For that reason, you should allocate a set time to focus on school work. This can be whenever you know you will have some consistent, convenient free time available to work. Setting aside a designated time slot or a certain day of the week that is dedicated solely to school helps you focus on your priorities and get your work done in a more timely fashion. Of course, not all people will necessarily be able to allot the exact same time every day or every week, but you should at least strive for as much consistency as is possible. You might actually have more free time available than you think. Look for a spare few minutes during your lunch break or the train ride home, before you pick up your kids from school or before they wake up in the morning.
Get Good At Focusing
Naturally, this tip ties into time management, which is a critical skill for any adult – especially one trying to earn an advanced degree online. In order to work effectively and to reduce the total amount of time you must spend on your course work, you must be able to focus. When you sit down to work, you must be free of any distractions; allotting specific times for your school work can make this significantly more feasible. However, you must also remove any potential distractions from your work environment during these time periods, and few things are distracting as the internet.
It can take a surprising amount of self-discipline to stay off Facebook, to not surf the web and to not get distracted in general while you are studying. Even telling yourself that you will just quickly check your status, or just look at one funny picture, can be fatal to your efficiency. It is much better to save that for after you are done studying. For many this is the hardest part of earning a degree online, and it should not be taken lightly. Buckle down, focus and discipline yourself to get the work done. In the long run, it will be worth it.
Sarah Rawson is an independent researcher and freelance writer. She extensively researches online education programs, such as mba executive programs and open education resources. Her articles mainly appear on higher education blogs.