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How should you prepare for an online degree? Graduates share their tips

The countdown to the start of your online degree is an exciting time.

Preparation is key when it comes to making the most of your studies. Taking time to think about how it will fit into your life in practical terms will help you hit the ground running when your first module begins.

There’s no one better to advise new online students on how to get ready for an online degree than those who have undertaken one themselves. Here, graduates and current online students share their tips on preparing for an online degree.

1. Create a study timetable and stick to it

“I had to have strict rules for time management – I had two hours in the morning, pretty much, three days a week. I aimed to finish everything within that time frame. I had a few weeks in the beginning where I slipped with my studies but then I realised if I do that over and over I’m not going to go through. I had to reach these targets week after week.” Gayan Sirimanne, Online MBA graduate.

“The first class we had, I was still getting the hang of it. How do I schedule this with seeing my friends, seeing my family, my work commitments and so on? I quickly learned that I needed to prioritise. So, for example, only one appointment a week with friends.” Helena Feibert, Online MSc International Business graduate.

2. Embrace the flexibility of online learning

Not being entirely sure of how I’d cope with the demands of becoming a new mum, I was comforted by the additional flexibility of being able to defer a module if necessary. You have up to five years to complete the programme (although it usually takes two and a half).” Harriet Jeckells, Online MBA graduate.

“It’s important to take advantage of the fact that you can work through the course material whenever you want.” Roberto Lionti, current Online MSc International Business student.

3. Set up a study space

“I had my own working space in my house. I also had all the equipment dedicated to the MBA – my own laptop and headset – I didn’t use that for anything else, in case it crashed, and I had to do everything again.” Gayan Sirimanne, Online MBA graduate.

“I invaded half of the living room! It was my study corner for two years. I had that space and it was mine, not to be touched or cleaned up. I could have my own mess, in my own system.” Helena Feibert, Online MSc International Business graduate.

Recommended read: How to be successful when going back to university

4. Ask family and friends to be supportive of your studies

“I must mention my husband, who (after longer working days than my own) made me dinner most nights, regularly picked our daughter up from nursery and did the bath, bottle, bed routine whilst I studied into the night. It was the support I had from those around me that made study feasible.” Harriet Jeckells, Online MBA graduate.

“I struggled initially, not knowing what to click on, what next to go on to, and so on. But I got the knack of it, with some help from my son and daughter.” Colin Fagan, Online Masters of Public Administration graduate.

5. Be open-minded when working with others

“When working with a team of students based in different corners of the world, you must be willing to compromise and manage your time effectively; when it comes to group projects for example – just before you go to sleep at night, you may find yourself passing the baton to your classmate who will continue to build upon the group’s work when they’re waking up or have just returned home from the office.” Kyle Buffrey, Online MSc International Business graduate.

“Group work was my biggest challenge. People have different cultures – we work in different ways. You have to be able to embrace those differences. But also embrace differences among personalities. How many people plan, and how many want to meet last minute?” Helena Feibert, Online MSc International Business graduate.

6. Give it your all

“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, Online MSc International Business graduate.

However long it’s been since you were last a student, we hope these tips will help you feel ready to get stuck into your online degree and begin the next stage of your career. If ever you do struggle, remember that there’s support available throughout your studies, in the form of regular live discussions with a dedicated Student Services Coordinator, 24/7 technical support and community boards and instant messaging services with your fellow online students.

If you have any further questions, feel free to contact our Admissions team who will be happy to help.

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