Working while completing a degree used to be very, very difficult. After a long day at work you needed to go and complete night school, and by the time you were done you were shattered from effort and stress. There may have been one, two, or even all the way up to four big commutes involved in your day as well, which is why many gave up the effort soon after they started.
That is not today. Today there are degrees you can complete entirely online. Not only can you work on them right at home, they have been designed to be done by working professionals, giving you more flexibility than ever before.
They have done all they can to support you as you further your career and your degree. All that is left is to follow this guide to ensure that your heart is in it, and that you stay committed until graduation:
Choosing the Right Degree
Completing an online degree while working is hard work, and it isn’t for the faint of heart. A good way to stay committed through all the long hours at work and studying is to be 100% committed to the degree, and to do that you need to be certain that it is going to help you achieve your goals.
Work Your Way Backwards
The last thing you want is to lock yourself out of your dream job or the next level of academics you want to achieve by choosing the wrong degree now. That is why it is always a good idea to work your way backwards so you know what you are working towards, and more importantly what qualifications you will need.
If you work in nursing and want to eventually work your way up to a leadership position, like the Head of Nursing or if you want to work as a healthcare educator, for example, then you will need to qualify for a DNP degree. Look up the top DNP Executive Leadership online programs, what they require, and then work your way backwards so that you will earn the qualifications you need to reach your goals without any detours.
Ensure it is Accredited
If you are looking to study a healthcare degree, or a similar sort of degree that requires accreditation like accounting or even business, then you need to make sure that the course and institution are both recognized by the accrediting bodies in your field. If they aren’t every credit you earn, and every second you spend, will be wasted because that degree won’t be recognized by your future employer or by other academic institutions.
How to Balance Your Degree and Work
Once you are 100% sure that the degree is going to help you achieve your goals, you have a reason to push through all the hard days. These tips, however, will help you get through without a bad day in sight:
Build Up the Routines Beforehand
Suddenly taking on more work on top of a full-time job is hard. You cannot expect your body to be able to handle it without any preparation at all. That is why you need to start a new set of routines before your degree begins.
Wake up at the same time, read on the commute, find a spot after work to do a personal project, and so on. By filling the time you will eventually use to study and learn with personal projects or even recommended reading lists, or, in our example, medical journals, you will be able to naturally switch to your degree.
Stay Healthy with Prep
Prep healthy meals in advance. This can be as minimal as prepping lunches, or as in-depth as having every meal planned out so you can enjoy delicious, but more importantly healthy meals that are jam-packed with nutrients and vitamins for every meal. Your body needs fuel, and calories are not enough to keep a brain working hard. Get multi-vitamins if you need to, but don’t ever stop trying to get all the vitamins and nutrients you need from your food first.
Work With a Study Group
When you do start your degree you will want to either join or start a study group. You should have access to the contact details of others who are doing your course, so even if you don’t live near each other or cannot meet up for any reason you can still work together to improve your overall studying tactics.
At its core, you will want to divide up what you need to learn and create in-depth study notes so that you can learn the information directly, rather than piece by piece through a text book. Doctors, nurses lawyers, and students of all subjects that require in-depth knowledge work this way when studying.
Use Commutes and Waiting Times to Revise
Revision is very important, especially if you are studying to become a nurse and have a state exam to worry about at the end of your degree. Use commutes and any time where you are waiting to revise what you have learned from the notes you and your study group have made. This way you can naturally assimilate the information that you will need to know without trying to cram all of the information in at the last moment.
Use What You Learn at Work
One final way to revise more naturally, and to actually put what you are learning into a practical setting, is to use it at work. Even if it is something as simple as guessing the treatment option for a patient in your head before your supervisor lets you know what you are going to do.
It is these exercises that will help you remember and solidify what you are learning the best. Being able to connect real instances where you will use what you are learning is a powerful tool, and will also allow you to jump on opportunities to showcase your new knowledge and skillset to your supervisors.