At some point, many of us are ready for a career change or a promotion in our work. Whether you are feeling fed up with your current role or want something more or have been slowly climbing the career ladder for some time and feel that you’ve hit a wall with your progress, getting an advanced degree such as a master’s degree in your chosen subject can be one way to turn things around for yourself and make it easier to meet your goals. No matter what career you are working in right now or what your goals are for the future when it comes to your profession, an advanced degree can provide several new opportunities. You can use a master’s degree to get a promotion in your current line of work or pivot your area of specialty into something else, allowing you to create a change of career for yourself into a new field.
However, the prospect of getting an advanced degree can be quite daunting. Many people who are working full-time will not have the privilege of being able to take time off work or even cut down their hours for a couple of years while getting an advanced degree. If you have a house to run, a family to raise or other commitments that you can’t just walk out on, then the idea of getting your master’s might feel even more out of reach.
The good news is that online degree programs are beginning to change all of that for people in these situations. The ability to study for your master’s degree online makes it easier for you to fit studying into your life, rather than the other way around. More and more people are choosing an online master’s degree to achieve their career goals. Here are some of the main benefits of getting your master’s degree online, and what you can do to make studying while working full-time easier.
Fit the Degree Around Your Life
The main benefit of getting an online master’s degree from a school like St. Bonaventure University is that it’s flexible and easy to fit the degree around your life. Most online degree programs are designed to be fully flexible which ultimately puts you in charge when it comes to when and where you’d like to study, rather than needing to be available for lectures and classes at certain times. While some degree programs will have certain virtual classes you’ll need to be there for, others leave it completely up to you to decide when you want to access the learning materials on the system and have a study session. As long as you are able to meet the assignment deadlines, you will usually be left to your own devices and trusted to self-study and motivate yourself to prepare. This makes it an ideal choice for people in full-time work who will usually benefit from the option to study outside of business hours.
Cut Down on College Expenses
The cost of going back to college might be something that’s putting you off getting an advanced degree. Along with rising tuition costs, advanced students also have to consider the prospect of studying while still repaying previous student loans and the many costs that are associated with attending college such as commuting to class, buying textbooks and more. Online degree programs are not free of charge and you will usually be required to pay tuition fees that don’t differ a lot from tuition for on-campus programs. However, it’s still the less expensive choice. Some online-only colleges offer cheaper tuition fees in comparison to campus-based competitors as they can afford to do so due to having fewer overheads to cover. In addition, studying from home reduces the opportunity cost of getting your master’s degree since you will not need to cut down your working hours to fit studying in. And with no need to relocate or commute anywhere, you will easily save a significant amount of money on the cost of this throughout the duration of the program.
Wider Selection of Programs and Schools
A wider selection of programs and schools to choose from is just one of the reasons why an increasing number of students have decided to pursue their master’s degree online instead. Unlike taking a campus-based program, online study gives students the option to study at colleges that may be physically located hundreds or even thousands of miles away if they like. As long as you meet the entry requirements and are able to pay the tuition fees, many online programs welcome students from different states or even different countries.
Take Your Education Anywhere
When you’re studying online, you don’t need to be physically located in any one place. Whether you need to relocate to work or feel like traveling to different areas of the world on an adventure, you can simply pack your laptop and take the degree program with you. This makes it a popular choice for people who want to get an advanced degree but are living a nomadic lifestyle or travel a lot for work. As long as you have your laptop or computer and an internet connection, you can take your degree program to almost anywhere that you want to go.
Get More Employer Support
While getting an advanced degree might benefit your employer as well as yourself, many employers are loath to offer a lot of support to employees who want to study full-time as it usually means that they need to take time off or work reduced hours, which can lead to problems and more expenses for the employer. On the other hand, studying online is a method that many employers are much more willing to get behind, since it’s flexible and allows students the option to fit studying around their work so employees do not have to be disrupted by their education. If you are considering asking your employer for additional support while you get your advanced degree, studying online is more likely to sway them in your favor.
How to Manage Studying Online While Working Full-Time
Online degree programs give almost anybody the option to improve their resume without having to miss a beat at work. No matter what role or industry you work in, getting an online master’s degree can prepare you for promotions or provide the opportunity for you to pivot your career into doing something different if you are ready for a change.
However, while there is no denying that studying online can be less stressful to studying on-campus while you are juggling a full-time job, it’s still a huge addition to your workload that you’ll need to manage well in order to be successful. If you’ve decided on an online master’s degree, here are some of the main things that you can do to succeed.
Set Time Aside
Approaching your online degree program should be something that you do in a structured and methodical way. Continuing as normal and hoping that you’ll find the time to study throughout your day might work for some but for others, it’s a huge risk to take. The last thing that you want is to end up rushing at the last minute or falling behind because you have not dedicated enough time to studying and deadlines for assignments have crept up on you. To avoid this, set aside time that you will dedicate to your online degree. Work out what free time you have outside of your work and other commitments and figure out where you might be able to sacrifice things like watching TV or other hobbies that you do at home to study instead. While you shouldn’t give up your hobbies and ‘me time’ completely, you will usually need to be prepared to sacrifice some of it to fit everything in.
Understand Your Learning Style
Figuring out where and how you tend to learn best can make all the difference to your grades and performance while you are getting an online degree. One of the biggest benefits of many online advanced degree programs is that they give students more flexibility to learn in a way that suits them best. The online learning program may present information to learn in several different ways including recorded lectures, videos and articles, and you will have the chance to choose which you prefer. If you prefer reading and tend to take in more information this way, reading articles and textbooks will usually work well for you. On the other hand, videos and diagrams might make more sense to you if you are more of a visual learner. If you’re not sure of your learning style, there are online quizzes that you can take to figure it out or you can simply learn by trial and error, reflecting on how you’ve learned best when trying out different methods.
Know When and Where You Learn Best
A solid understanding and knowledge of yourself and where you are more likely to thrive is key to being successful while getting an online master’s degree and working full-time. For example, if you know that you are not a morning person, then it would make sense to schedule your study sessions for after work rather than before. Or, if you know that you might struggle to focus if you are trying to study from your couch or kitchen table, you may want to consider investing in a separate study space at home where you can get away from distractions, arrange to go to a friend’s house to study or even find a quite space like a local library or coffee shop where you can get things done.
Communicate with Your Employer
Many employers are happy to support their employees with bettering themselves, especially if getting an advanced degree is likely to make you a more productive and valuable employee. You may be surprised at how much support your employer can actually offer you. If you are studying for an advanced degree that will qualify you for a promotion within your company, your employer might be interested in learning more since this could make things easier for them in the future. Some employers are able to get tax breaks and bonuses for providing tuition support to employees who are studying, so it’s always worth having this conversation with your boss to see what they can offer to take some of the pressure off you. But even if your employer is unable to offer financial support for you while you study, they may be able to help in order ways including providing more flexible working hours.
Get Help and Support
Working full-time while juggling an online master’s degree is not always going to be easy. There are going to be times where it feels like you just can’t catch a break and the workload seems to be getting larger and larger. So, being able to ask for help and finding out where help is going to be available for you is an important step to take before you get started on this journey. Many colleges understand that lots of students are in this situation and have strategies in place that are designed to support you if you need it, so find out more about the student services that are offered so that you know where to go and what to ask for if you’re in a position where you could use some additional support. And, lean on your family and friends as much as possible wherever you can. Chances are you would do the same for them if they were in your situation, and the people in your life who care about you and want to see you do well are likely to be some of the most supportive that you have as you juggle studying and working full-time.
Getting an advanced degree is a great way to better or change your career, but it’s not always easy for full-time workers. Thankfully, online degree programs are becoming more popular and provide a flexible, more achievable way to reach your goal.