8 Things to Know When Enrolling in Online Graduate School

As readers of this blog and members of my career mentoring site know, I teach in an MBA program here in Denver.  I love being in the classroom, interacting with students.  However, I know that not everyone has the time to devote to a classroom based graduate degree program.  Online education is a great alternative for these folks. 

Online schools come with lots of benefits. Whether you are planning on a business degree or wanting to pursue social work as your course of study, there are several different options. They allow students to continue in their jobs while continuing their academic studies. Because courses are available any time, you can still hold down a standard nine-to-five, while furthering your education. Additionally, unless you’re able to refinance student loans to be more manageable, an entry-level salary usually isn’t sufficient enough to keep up with monthly loan payments, as well as day-to-day living. In most cases though, enrolling in an online program is more economical for students.

Online schooling allows you to attain your goals while enhancing prospects within your chosen field. Still, you don’t want to be surprised by some aspects of an all-online program, some soon-to-be students can benefit from these helpful tips.

It Still Takes Work

The internet seems to make everything else easier ― finding restaurants, buying plane tickets, connecting with old friends ― but that is not the case when it comes to education. Online graduate programs are more flexible and easier to access than traditional on-campus schools, but in many ways that makes them more difficult to succeed in. Many people think an online graduate degree is a cakewalk because the courses only existed digitally, but they still take work. If you want to truly succeed and become a master of your program be sure to make the time needed to do the work.

Motivation Is Your Responsibility

One of the primary reasons online education is more difficult is a lack of external motivators. Students in traditional programs are surrounded by academia, which encourages them to participate in academic efforts. Conversely, online students must find their own ways to ignore distractions and focus on their coursework. The key is to choose a course in a field you know you will love, and will give you the motivation needed to complete it.

Luckily, if you already have a sense of strong self-motivation ― you may opt for this program in social work to receive your degree. You will be motivated to complete school work in a timely manner because you will be learning how to change lives and help others, which is something that brings passion to many individuals. This brings us to our next point,

Passion Is Important

Interest is essential for success in any academic program, but it is particularly useful in online school. An easy way to become motivated to complete coursework is to develop a passion for the knowledge to be gained. In any way they can, students should find a way to love what they study; for many, it’s knowing that their education will indirectly add good to the world.

You Must Make a Solid Schedule

When young adults work and go to school online, often it’s a struggle to find a work-school-life balance ― make a schedule. Once you know precisely how much time you can feasibly devote to each activity, you will feel much more comfortable.

A schedule keeps online students mindful of their academic work, even when they are tired or bored. Being mindful is one step closer to being motivated.

Technology Is King

To access online courses, students need to be exceedingly tech-savvy. Proficiency with computers is a start, but throughout a degree program, students will access online forums, databases, email, webcams, and more, which means being well-versed with all things web-related is a good idea. If you are not initially a tech hound, your program may be able to provide you with these skills. As a social worker, you can rely on a bevy of technologies due to your experience with digital school.

Engagement Should Come Early

Thousands of students graduate from traditional on-campus programs every year without once visiting a professor in office hours. It is even easier to avoid connecting with educators in online schools, but avoiding contact with teachers and fellow students only makes digital education more difficult. By frequently interacting with professors and classmates, students will find lessons easier to understand and projects easier to complete. Be sure to make these connections as soon as possible.

Completion and Graduation Are Different

Online courses don’t always match up with traditional graduation timelines, which means the last day of digital classes might be months away from any celebratory ceremonies. In some schools, students aren’t graduated until they complete the proper ceremony; in others, students are technically graduated upon completing their final course. Be sure to know so you can get out there and pursue your career as soon as possible.

If online education is for you, you’ll do well to keep this information in mind.

Your career mentor,


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