Taking on online studies is a big step forward for any student, especially those who are working full time. The most impressive factor of online courses is that it is designed with everyone in mind; there will be a course that appeals to you.
Studying online is not for everyone, as it requires a lot of dedication and some skills. If you are considering furthering your education, complete our 12-point checklist below to see if you are ready for online studies.
Did you do your research?
It is essential that you look at what online study entails and do research on how much time you will need to commit to it. Ask yourself if the specific course aligns with what you are hoping to achieve. Remember to check the cost, curriculum, and schedule, as these are critical factors that will affect your day-to-day life.
To avoid disappointment, remember to check what qualifications you need before you apply for the one you have your eye on.
Are you committed to learning?
You have decided that you want to better yourself by continuing your studies. The next question you need to ask yourself is whether you are committed to studying and learning more? If you are working full time or have a family, it will take a lot of time and effort from your side.
It is inevitable that your routine will change and that you may feel overwhelmed at times. Being committed to your studies means that you are willing to push through these difficult times to reach your end goal.
Do you have access to the internet and a computer?
The idea and dream of furthering your studies is never a bad one, but it is essential to look at the practical side as well. Studying online will require access to the internet and a computer, at the very least. If you do not have either of these, you will need to find a library or space to rent where you will have access to it. Make sure that you can afford this and plan accordingly so that you have access to these places while they are open. If you have a computer or a laptop and an internet connection at home, studying online should be more manageable in terms of planning.
Are you organised?
An essential point to tick off this list is that you should be good at following a systematic approach. If this comes naturally to you, then you are the perfect candidate for online study. If you are not, make an effort to be more organised. If you like making lists, then you can tick this one, off.
Planning also falls into this category and is related to other points on this checklist. For example, the point mentioned above (having access to a computer and the internet) requires planning.
Do you have the technical skills?
Since distance learning is all online, you must have the necessary technical skills to complete your studies. Universities have different portals on which they work and where you submit assignments, write tests, or communicate with lecturers and tutors. If you struggle with tech, it might hinder your studies.
If you’re set on studying online and you’re unsure about your tech skills, sign up for a class before you start your studies so that you can learn the basics and be prepared.
Are you self-disciplined?
If you’re going to study online, you need to have a measure of self-discipline. When you’re feeling tired, or if your friends send you WhatsApp messages to get together, you should be able to say no and commit to studying for an hour or two instead. With that being said, it is also important to take some time off. If you are generally self-disciplined, you will know when taking a break is reasonable or if you are indulging yourself (there’s nothing wrong with this now and then – it just should not become a habit).
Are you good at communicating?
Since you will not have access to your lecturers, tutors, or other students for face-to-face meetings or interactions, you will need to work on your communication skills online. Whether this is via email, a chat forum, or WhatsApp groups, communicating with others is critical during your studies. This communication also applies to your employer, family, and friends, so that they will know that you are unavailable at certain times.
Are you flexible?
Life gets busy and throws curveballs at you all the time. You will need to be flexible about certain things; otherwise, online learning might not be the right fit for you. It is up to you whether you get your qualification or not, which means you may have to cancel some social events to study or finish an assignment.
Are you good at focusing?
Once you’ve decided that you’re going to sit down and study, you need to focus and make the most of it. To do this, you need to focus fully on the task at hand. Figure out which environment is best for you to focus on, and then create this environment for yourself. It can be anything from complete silence at home to headphones with music in a library. When you are with friends or family, focus entirely on them.
Can you multitask?
Multitasking is another name for the balancing act. Sometimes you will need to focus on more than one thing at a time, and if you’re good at multitasking you should be okay. An example may include trying to feed your children while completing an assignment at home.
Are you a networker?
Networking is vital for your online studies, if you need help with something, you need people around you who you can rely on. In order to turn to someone for academic help, there needs to be a pre-existing relationship. Not only will networking assist you with your studies, but it will also help with other areas of your life.
Do you know how to maximise your free time?
If you are sitting around with nothing to do, use your free time wisely by getting ahead with your studies. If you commit to your online studies, you know that it isn’t forever. Carry some of your notes or books with you so that you can read or study while waiting for a doctor’s appointment or for a friend in a restaurant.
If you can tick off the 12-point checklist above, you are ready to start studying online. What’s stopping you?