The right strategies and habits can help you succeed in your online degree program

White woman working on laptopOne of the great advantages of online universities is that you can earn a degree without uprooting your life. If you have a family and are working either full or part time, the convenience and flexibility of online education makes it possible for you to return to school without sacrificing your other commitments. Of course, earning your degree online still requires time and focus. The following advice will help you better balance your family and other life commitments with your coursework so that you can get the most out of your online degree program.

Manage your time mentally.

One of the keys to succeeding at an online college is managing your time well. The first step in doing this is to mentally set aside time for your coursework. Determine how much time each week you’ll need to devote to your online degree program, and then officially schedule out that time over several days. If you have young children, consider setting aside time after you put them to bed. If you’re a morning person, waking up to study for an hour or two before work may help. The key is to find a time that works for you and then commit to it.

Manage your time verbally.

Verbally managing your time means sharing your study schedule with the people in your life. This can help ensure everyone is aware of when you’ll be focusing on your online degree. It can also help create a system of accountability. If, for instance, your spouse knows you are supposed to be doing coursework at 7 p.m. but sees you doing something else, he or she can remind you of your commitment to your online degree and can handle tasks that might otherwise be taking your time.

Create a space to study.

When balancing a variety of commitments, it can be helpful to have a dedicated space for each. The kitchen is for cooking and dining. The living room is for family. And the same goes for an actual, physical space within your home, set aside for completing your coursework. It doesn’t have to be a full home office, either. Perhaps you can convert a bedroom or a corner of a seldom-used room into a place where you can set up your computer and focus on your coursework. Even if your home is small, designating one specific spot can help you balance your online education with your family and the rest of your life.

Understand the benefits of constructive criticism.

Earning an online degree means being evaluated by your faculty and receiving constructive criticism, but don’t let that feedback discourage you. In fact, constructive criticism is a vital part of the learning process and helps you improve in your field of study. It’s a sign that an instructor believes in your abilities and potential, and knows you can grow and succeed.

Remember your motivation.

Why did you choose to earn a degree online? Focusing on your end goal can help keep you motivated as you progress through your academic program. You may even have more than one goal, such as advancing in your career and setting a good example for your children. Like all forms of learning, online learning takes time and dedication, but the benefits can be incredibly rewarding. Don’t lose sight of why you enrolled in an online degree program in the first place.

Use the resources available from your online university.

Your online university is likely to have plenty of resources to help you balance school and life responsibilities. These resources may include customized registration that lets you adjust your course load from term to term, virtual check-in groups led by a senior mentor or advisor, kid-friendly residencies for degrees requiring occasional on-site attendance, and caring faculty trained in teaching adult learners. Your online university might also offer support webinars and podcasts that provide all kinds of helpful advice.

It’s amazing what you can achieve when you balance your family and life commitments with your online degree program. Doing so can help ensure your online education is a success.

Walden University offers family focused support for adult learners enrolled in certain online doctoral degree programs.