Getting a Degree While Working: How to Make it Work & How Taft Helps
Getting an online degree is not for everyone. To be successful, you have to be disciplined, organized, and able to set and achieve goals yourself. These may all sound simple, but some people are better than others at actually doing them. While making the decision to go online for your degree is a personal one, I’ll outline some tips and steps to success if you do go the online route rather than a more traditional education.
Pick a Spot
Choose your space wisely. It’s easy to choose your couch, a coffee shop, or even your local library. But it’s important to think about how you work and where you will be most productive. If you plop down on your couch, laptop and books ready to go, how likely are you to actually focus on schoolwork instead of reaching over to the remote sitting on the coffee table? Netflix is just good background noise, right? Wrong.
Some people may be able to tune out background noise and may even focus better with a little bustle around them. That’s why coffee shops have become such a popular place to study and get work done. That and the readily available caffeine and pastries to help you get through your next assignment.
Do you think you’ll be able to tune out a conversation happening at the table behind you, or will you tend to eavesdrop a bit? Or will you glance up whenever someone new walks in the café or library room? Will that Marvel movie or cheesy rom-com on Netflix be pleasant background noise, or will you end up watching that more than actually working on your assignment?
The key is to think about how you work. Most people would do best to choose a quiet, private, out of the way spot where they can focus on their work without distraction.
Time Management & Setting Goals
This should be fairly apparent, but when you’re working on an online degree, time management is key. There is much more structure and accountability with a traditional, on-campus degree. Those who opt for an online degree have much more flexibility in study times, but this also requires – you guessed it – discipline.
Keeping to a schedule will help keep you from getting behind on assignments or overwhelmed by the work that needs to get done. You can do this in whichever way works best for you: a planner, using a calendar on your phone, or setting reminders for when assignments are due.
Set small daily goals so that you can pace yourself and get work done. If you aim to read twenty pages a day, for example, you’re not stressed when you get home from work and realize the schoolwork that you have to do. Plus, catching up from one missed day is a whole lot easier than reaching Friday and realizing you have 100 pages still to read for an upcoming assignment.
Your university has academic advisors and a student support team for a reason – use them! If you have a personal or work problem arise, talk to them and they will do what they can to help you keep a healthy balance between school, home, and work life.
While you may not physically attend class in an online degree program, you do still have professors who are paid to help you learn. If you’re struggling with any of the content or assignments, ask them about it. If any of the lesson material is confusing, don’t hesitate to bring it up to the professor for clarification. For one, you may not be the only one asking, so perhaps the lesson material could be edited. Secondly, I will say this again, your professor is there to teach you. If this means re-phrasing or going over material again with you, they are more than happy to do it.
Take a Break When Necessary
Don’t push yourself too hard. If your work or personal life gets extra busy at any point during your studies, try and take a load off. With self-paced online education, you have the freedom to slow things down when you need to. There are some time-frame requirements you must comply with, but there is still a lot of flexibility with when you finish each course.
Additionally, Taft allows for certain breaks between courses. If you are in the Masters of Science in Taxation program and tax season is coming around, we allow for you to take a break because work will be so time consuming. Outside of that, you are allowed breaks between courses and/or semesters whenever life gets crazy, so long as you are able to finish your program within the required time-frame.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
I’m saying this again because it’s important. The Student Support team and your professors (and everyone else in the staff/faculty) are all here to help you successfully earn your degree. If you feel overwhelmed, confused, or frustrated with any aspect of your education, tell someone. We can’t help you if you don’t tell us something is wrong or that you’re struggling.
Getting your degree online is a great way to advance in your career. It’s easy to work around a full-time work schedule and anything else you have going on in your life. If you’re the type of person who likes to work independently, these programs are designed for you.
Author: Megan Menendez
For more information about Taft University programs, visit our Academic Programs page.