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‘Virtual reality’: upcoming grads offer advice on what it’s really like to obtain a degree online

As students from the initial cohorts of our Online MBA, Online MSc International Business and Online Masters of Public Administration submit their final dissertations, we reconnect alongside faculty to ask what they really thought of the experience. The truth may surprise you: studying online isn’t easy. So, if this is an ambitious challenge which you’re interested in learning more about, please read on...

“The most surprising aspect was the amount of work and the high degree of academic rigor attached to it,explains Andrew Lavin, who will be graduating in July. Since our programmes come with a commitment of approximately 15 hours per week - on top of the ‘usual’ 9.00am - 5.00pm work routine - they have purposely been designed to match the academic strengths of their campus-based counterparts.

Upcoming MSc graduate, Kyle Buffrey, adds, “It’s certainly not an easy alternative, but the experience ‘as a whole’ has been demanding - yet both meaningful and mesmerising at the same time...”

Juggling work and personal commitments is a challenge, but it seems that the benefit of being able to apply learning could outweigh the costs:

“One of the companies I used as a case study for my final project considered doing business with my employer and, with knowledge gained from the MSc, I brokered the deal,” explains Jamaican student, Safiya Caroll.

Recommended read: Maximise your earning potential: the degrees with the best ROI

However Danish student, Helena Feibert, cautions the balancing act: “Get your priorities listed and re-evaluate them whenever major changes in your life occur. I started a new job after four months on the programme and realised that we can’t have two ‘first’ priorities, so I’d say that knowing how to prioritise when you have an assignment due and a business deadline at the same time is vital…”

So, if you’re a wizard with time management – or own Hermione Granger’s time turner – and don’t feel too fazed so far, you may be interested in the following advice given by upcoming graduates about studying online:

  1. “Be prepared to put time aside to complete weekly reading material, the weekly assessed work and the end of unit assignment…” (Andrew Lavin).
  2.  “Don’t apply just to get ‘THAT’ promotion. Think seriously about your motivation, otherwise it will be a long 30 months…” (Helena Feibert).
  3. “Make the experience fun, enjoy and get fully involved in course activities. Take the opportunity to read and study far beyond the core texts and make the most of the fantastic opportunities that online education may present to you; be prepared to be led along some unexpected paths to possible future success…” (Kyle Buffrey).

To that end, Dr Michael Shulver (Director, Online Content), summarises the journey: “Students don’t undertake a different MBA or MSc; it’s ‘one’ degree certificate both in terms of learning objectives and the quality of graduate. In fact, meeting the challenge of studying online whilst also holding down a busy career is hugely profound.”

So, if you own a time turner or not, and you’re thinking of applying to study, please fill out the ‘request information’ form and a member of our specialist Distance Learning Admissions Team will be in touch to discuss your options.

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