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The Guardian *sponsored post* - New year, new you

Study online to help progress your career with the University of Birmingham.

Every January, we all have to face up to our own long list of New Year’s resolutions. Although hitting the gym, getting your five-a-day and watching less TV are popular inclusions, if you really want to change your life, getting back into higher education could well be the solution.

When you contemplate what you’d like to achieve in 2017, it’s worth reflecting on how you might shape your career for the better, since your job takes up a big part of your life. Where do you want to be by the end of the year?

If the answer is that you want to have moved up the job ladder (or at least be on your way to rising higher), now’s a good time to start thinking about how you’re going to make it happen. One sure way to bring about pivotal change is to expand your skill set and specialist knowledge — by returning to university.

For some individuals that may seem impossible. How can you get on at work if you take time out to go and study? Well, the advent of online courses, and the new technologies they rely on, have allowed millions across the globe to enter the world of higher education — all while working and maintaining (and improving) their position within the workplace.

“The advancements in online learning have helped to open the door for me to accomplish my long-held goal of getting an MBA,” says Patrick Gettleman, current Online MBA student.

Recommended read: The top 5 benefits which are driving the popularity of online degrees

A course made for you

Online learning presents a fantastic opportunity for introducing positive change into your life. Capitalising on the potential gains that studying can bring means choosing the right course in the first instance. Although it has come a long way in recent years, not all online educational programmes are equal, so it’s crucial that the one you pick fits your needs perfectly.

The University of Birmingham’s academic options include three courses specifically designed for online students. There’s the Online MSc International Business course, which is great for those new to business, looking to make strides on a global scale. Then there’s the Online MBA, the world’s first 100% online MBA to receive AMBA-accreditation. Finally, the Online Masters of Public Administration is designed to help students become true leaders in the public sector, whether that’s here in the UK or overseas.

It pays to consider carefully what you want to achieve, and to ensure your goals are perfectly aligned with the course you choose.

Move up the career ladder

Personal development is undoubtedly one of the keys to success, whether it’s within your chosen field or a completely new career path. Fresh knowledge and skills can open doors for you, and with the whole year ahead of you, there’s no better time to get started. Stepping back into education may seem like a hugely disruptive commitment — and traditionally it is — but cutting-edge online courses, including the postgraduate degrees offered by the University of Birmingham, are built to fit around your lifestyle. There’s no relocating, no resigning and no loss of earnings to consider.

The flexibility that comes with a 100% online masters degree allows you to continue fulfilling your other important roles, whether that’s as a parent, business leader or both. The issue of location is removed from the equation too, meaning you have access to the best possible tuition from the comfort of your living room, study or favourite coffee shop. So, with the obvious obstacles no longer in your way, you're free to make 2017 a truly pivotal year: one in which you take the first steps towards a more fulfilling and rewarding professional life.

Learning while doing

Studying alongside an active career is hugely beneficial. You have the chance to put the skills you learn in class into action almost immediately, whilst also learning from the results of your new approaches, and sharing invaluable knowledge with the team around you.

Collaborating with others outside of your conventional work environment allows you to gain fresh perspective on your current professional challenges. There are plenty of opportunities to discuss approaches and strategies with fellow students from a range of professional and cultural backgrounds, all of whom are focused on the same thing as yourself: personal professional development.

Make 2017 your turning point

Whether you’re just starting out in business or are a little further along on your journey, there’s always room to grow, and the University of Birmingham is on hand to help you do just that in the most convenient and effective way possible. Not only do these online courses come with professional awards and accreditations, they’re delivered by a highly-ranked and respected institution, backed by a strong track record of student success.

Vanna Curi, a current Online Masters of Public Administration student, says of her decision to return to study, “I could’ve gone to many other competitive universities to obtain my masters, but the University of Birmingham was the one that offered the most flexibility, better affordability, attentive academic staff and, most importantly, the convenient part-time structure.”

By undertaking online study, you too are afforded the chance to expand your experience, develop your skill set and become a true leader in whichever field you choose. It’s a brand new lifestyle choice for anyone accustomed to the 9-5 routine, but it’s one that promises personal enrichment both now and long into the future.

Are you ready to take the next step? Change your life and apply to study online with the University of Birmingham. Visit our course webpages or call +44 (0)800 032 7101 for more information.

This is a sponsored article which was first published in the Guardian’s New Year, New You supplement magazine, 07th January 2017.

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