Pursuing a Graduate Degree Online: 5 Tips
Getting a gerontology degree or similar graduate-level education can advance your career and lead to new job prospects. It’s easier than ever to continue your education thanks to distance learning, which means that you can get your degree online while you fulfill other obligations.
However, staying on track to graduate on time can prove tricky, especially if you’re already busy. Follow these five strategies to keep yourself motivated, healthy, and productive while you work toward your degree.
Stay on Task
Distractions can inhibit your ability not only to complete work but also to remember what you’ve studied. Writing for Psychology Today, Dr. Ezequiel Morsella cites technology as a prime source of distraction. Students often get sidetracked by social media, text messages, and other media while they’re taking notes or listening to a lecture.
Morsella advises students to remove the distractions. Avoiding temptation by turning off a smartphone, disabling the internet on a desktop or laptop computer (unless you are actively in class), and working in a closed room with no outside sensory input can make studying much easier. With a few adjustments, you’ll be able to focus on your studies instead of the myriad distractions that might keep you from reaching your goals.
Balance Your Obligations
In addition to working toward your degree, you might have a job, spouse, children, or other obligations. Getting a degree online is helpful because you can make room for your coursework based on your specific schedule, as you don’t have to report to class at a specific time. This can make studying easier, but you must also learn to find balance.
According to Alain Sherter of CBS News, working — or studying — for too many hours or days at a stretch can adversely affect health and the ability to retain information. While the study Sherter cites deals specifically with middle-aged people, the advice can apply to people of any age.
An article in Almero Student Mansions backs up Sherter’s claim, stating that balance in school is similar to work-life balance. Pay attention to your body, plan your studying calendar, and make time for other things in your life.
Get Plenty of Sleep, Healthy Food, and Exercise
In addition to finding balance in your studying life, make sure to take care of your body. Reporting for The Montclarion, Reshma Adwar names several benefits of getting active, such as improved mental clarity and better mood. When you can retain information and avoid negative thoughts, you might find studying for your degree easier.
You also need plenty of sleep. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, or NHLBI, a good night’s sleep helps improve brain function and information retention. While pursuing your degree, you’ll need to memorize information for your exams and future career.
The NHLBI further equates quality sleep with daytime performance. You don’t want to feel foggy or unmotivated while you take your classes, even when you’re studying from the comfort of your own home.
Finally, the United States Department of Agriculture, or USDA, emphasizes the importance of nutrition for healthy brain function. The USDA has reported studies that show that certain foods and nutrients, such as antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins, help boost brain function. This holds true whether you’ve just finished your undergraduate education or you’re older. Fill your plate with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to boost your performance as you work toward a degree.
Ask For Help
Healthy habits will only take you so far, though they can make a tremendous difference in your school performance. U.S. News & Daily Report staff writer Ryan Lytle explains that getting help can also improve your performance, reduce your anxiety, and enable you to better understand the material.
According to Lytle, taking an online course requires self-control and self-sufficiency, but you might still need help, especially in graduate studies. He advises students to connect with their teachers as early as possible. Let them know your name, your goals, and your pain points.
Lytle goes on to say that continued contact remains essential. After you get back an exam or paper, ask the instructor about how you can improve on the next assignment. You’ll learn things that might not emerge during regular classwork.
Get to Know People
Every educational stage gives you a chance to connect with people who might become vital to your career success down the road. Even though you’re getting your gerontology degree online, you can still connect with your instructors and classmates. Get to know them, and let them get to know you.
U.S. News & World Report staff writer Alexis Grant lists Twitter and LinkedIn as two places where students can network while they’re in school. You don’t have to visit a campus to reach out to people via social media, and you might create friendships that last years. When you need a referral for a job or advice about a particular problem, you can turn to your network.
Grant also recommends getting out of the house. Visit your local Chamber of Commerce, or get involved in local industry events and organizations. These connections might help you get a job one day. Furthermore, you might find yourself in a position to help someone else when they need help.
These tips offer just a few of many ways to succeed in getting your degree online. If you are interested in pursuing a career in gerontology, these tips can help you as you work toward your Master of Arts in Gerontology or Master of Aging Services Management at University of Southern California. Studying online can give you a more flexible schedule and more control over your lifestyle.