You’re after embarking on a new venture, studying online, but now you find yourself asking “how to study a degree at home?” While the desire to complete the degree is high. The thoughts of graduating are exhilarating but yet there are some doubts and anxiety creeping in.
How are you actually going to go about getting this degree done at home, without a teacher there by your side to answer your questions and guide you through the process?
Will you be able to do this alone? Have you the time? And there’s probably a lot more questions running around in your head now that you’ve gone ahead and paid your tuition fees.
Let me assure you that this anxiety is normal. Everyone who has chosen to study at home has at some stage questioned their ability to successfully complete the course. I too asked myself this question. But let me tell you that once you get into the swing of things, and take these tips I’m about to give you into account, those thoughts and fears will quickly diminish.
If however, you haven’t yet decided on a course and are just beginning to wonder how to study a degree at home well then read on as we delve into exactly how you can go about getting a degree from the comfort of your own home.
How to study a degree at home
Pick a degree
Sounds simple and it is, but yet sometimes it isn’t. What do I mean? Well, in today’s world pretty much every college and university has some form of online education available. So no matter what you want to learn there’s more likely than not a course for you to study.
What actually makes it difficult is actually choosing the course and the university with whom you want to get your education. This just involves a bit of time searching and doing some research into what you want to do and what’s going to work best for you.
After choosing what you’d like to study you may also decide that you’d like to study it part-time or full-time, or maybe just pick a few modules at a time. This is the great thing about getting a degree from home. Maybe you’d prefer to obtain a diploma first then continue on to get a degree. Flexibility is one of the major benefits of online education.
Where can I get a degree online?
There are many colleges and universities today that offer a range of courses and degrees that you can take online and at your own pace that makes it suitable for your needs.
For example, you can try Futurelearn.com or The Open University, as well as your local colleges and universities to see what degrees they offer online. You could also use some of Harvard or MIT’s free courses to test the waters and see if online learning is for you.
You may also benefit from reading our post “is studying online a good idea?” to see if getting a degree from home will work you.
Make sure that you have the right tools
When doing a course online its important that you have a proper computer and broadband to fascilate the requirements of the course. So it’s important to ensure that the computer that you will be using to do course is working well and meets the minimum standards.
Also it’s important that you have good internet connection so that you can watch all online lectures and video content easily without the connection freezing. Having all your other supplies such as pens, note-pads and course books whether in print or didigital format, ready to go from the start is really helpful and lets you hit the ground running.
Find a study space
One of the most important things when studying a degree from home is creating your own study place. This can be anywhere in your home but must be free from distractions. Somewhere that you can come and go to easily, to just sit down and study.
This study space should be free from distractions. So turn off tv’s, puts the phone away. Check out our post on “how to study at home without getting distracted” and “how to study effectively at home” for more useful tips on setting up the perfect study space and how to successfully study from home.
It should also be quiet enough so that you can concentrate on what you’re trying to learn. There’s nothing more frustrating than listening to your neighbours argue or a dog outside barking constantly when you’re trying to focus in on your studies.
While it may not be possible to control the noise from your outside environment there are certain things that you can do to help. Some people find that listening to music or white noise helps drain out what may be going on outside their window.
However, with music, it’s important that it has little to no lyrics in it as this can also be a distraction. While you may not think so, having words in a song that’s playing in the background is causing your brain to work harder which in turn will lead to you becoming tired sooner.
Plus you’ll also not be given your full attention to the task at hand. To find out what are the best types of music to listen to while studying check out our post on “can studying with music help?“
Create a list
When you first begin your online degree you are going to be given a course outline. It’s very important that you use this to create a list of key dates, assignments, readings and exam dates. You should make not off all the due dates for those assignments and projects.
Use a calendar and journal to help you track these. You can then use the list to tick off assignments and reading material as you do them. This will help you feel organised and help you stay on track throughout the semester.
The biggest thing when it comes to how to study a degree at home is self-discipline. There’s undoubtedly going to be days where you do not want to study and do course work. When you don’t have a course leader or teacher right beside you it can be very easy not to study or get side-tracked.
Being disciplined with yourself can be hard. But by becoming familiar with your weaknesses and temptations not to study you can remove these temptations and put a plan in place to address them.
When trying to develop self-discipline it’s important to not only focus on your weaknesses but also take a look at the positives. There’s going to be times or stages during the day that you study best. Make note of these. These can then be used to your advantage.
For example, do you like studying in short or long periods of time? Is your perfect study space at the kitchen table when everyone is out or do you like studying in your local library or coffee shop? Do you like talking out loud while learning or creating colourful mind-maps?
Getting to know what works best for you will allow you to set up a study schedule that works well and helps you to remain more disciplined. to learn more about learning styles and what type of learner you are, check out our post on “how to use different learning styles to improve study” and “what types of learners are there?“
Get to know your course leader
When you begin your degree online it’s also wise to familiarize yourself with your course leader and his contact details. You can also do the same for the different teachers per subjects in your course.
This is useful so that you can send them a message or email should you have any problems or difficulty throughout the degree. One of the main differences between getting a degree online versus the traditional in-class courses is that you don’t have the teacher or course leader there by your side on a daily basis with whom you can ask a question there and then.
However, with online courses, there will always be a way for you to contact these people so take advantage of this and in most cases, you will not be waiting that long for a reply.
Set up a study schedule
When you’ve figure out when and where is the best place for you to get your coursework done the next step is to set up a study schedule. You can use your list that you made with assignment and reading due dates that help you with this.
Then you can estimate how much time is need to complete each assignment, project, essay and readings. You then work this into the schedule that you are creating.
Establish a routine
You can then use your study schedule to establish a routine that works for you. Routines are great way to keep yourself on track when you are studying online. They will help keep you focused and motivated.
Set up goals
When studying a degree online it’s important to set goals for yourself. These goals can be used to motivate you along the way. However, it’s important that these goals are realistic and achievable.
When you first start your degree, set yourself small achievable goals. This can be really beneficial in the beginning to build confidence and motivate you. For example, one of your first goals could be to read 10 pages per night for the week.
Once you have done this, you will feel that sense of accomplishment. It’s a great way to ease yourself back into study, especially if this is your first online course or you have been away from studying for a long time. In fact, if this is the case you’re benefit from reading our post on “How to start studying after a long gap” to find some useful tips for getting back into the swing of studying again.
Have a back-up plan
When it comes to goal setting its is also wise to have back-up plans. So say you have a goal of resarching a topic for an upcoming project on Tuesday morning, however on that particular morning there’s a power outage and you cannot get online to do some research. So in this case your back up plan maybe to read 50 pages of the assigned reading material.
Obstacles will undoubtedly arise throughout the course. This is normal. Having back-up plans helps us to progress forwards in the face if these setbacks rather than using it as an excuse not to study.
Particpate in course forums
When attending the traditional classroom style degrees you get the opportunity to participate in group discussions and ask questions on a daily basis while in class.
However, to combat this disadvantage, online course provider have set up discussion boards and forums. In fact, for many this is better than the traditional method since some students find it difficult to speak out in class and ask questions.
Be sure to join and participate in these course groups. Even if you don’t have any questions to ask, reading other peoples comments and views can be great for learning and reinforcing information. It’s also handy when you need help with a particular subject or area that you are struggling with.
Take regular breaks
When studying, it’s also important to schedule in some regular breaks. This can be whatever works for you. But research has shown that taking regular breaks improves retentation rates and helps up study longer.
It’s recommended that we study for around 50 minutes and then take a 10 minute break. But of course you can adjust this which ever way that you find works best for you.
Likewise, it may be tempting to throw yourself into your degree and study all day, every day but this is not recommended. It’s crucial for you to take some time relaxing and doing other activities that you enjoy. This can be spending time with family and friends, going to cinema, watching a movie or playing some sport.
Whatever you find relaxing works well. This gives your mind a break and allows you to come back to your coursework with a much stronger and rested mind.