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The Dos and Don’ts of Going to Grad School Online

The Dos and Don’ts of Going to Grad School Online

The Dos and Don’ts of Going to Grad School Online

Are you considering going to grad school online? You probably already know, or may have suspected, that online learning isn’t the same as traditional in-person learning. Yes, you can learn just as much in an online graduate course as you can in a traditional brick-and-mortar one, but it’s going to take a different set of skills to succeed.

It’s a little harder to do well in graduate school when you don’t have regularly scheduled classes that you have to attend in person. It may be easier to face disappointing classmates or professors when you don’t have to see them face-to-face. You need to know what to expect from online grad school and what you need to do – and not do – to succeed in an online master’s program.

Do Block Out Time for School

The most important things you can have going into most online master’s programs are time management skills. Knowing how to manage your time – and actually holding yourself accountable to the schedule you’ve developed – will stand you in good stead as you juggle the workload of an online master’s program with work and other responsibilities. 

Buy a planner and grab your syllabi at the beginning of each term. Write down all your upcoming assignments and all your other obligations that need to be factored into your schedule, like upcoming weddings, birthdays, family reunions, and other prior commitments. At the beginning of each week, block out time in the week ahead for studying, resting, exercising, and spending time with friends and family or doing hobbies. Blocking out time for studying ahead of time will help you stay on task when the time comes to actually study.

Don’t Put Off Classwork

It can be easy to procrastinate doing classwork in an online learning environment, but you shouldn’t let yourself succumb to the temptation. The best case scenario is that you’ll just end up cramming the night before an exam or trying to write a 20-page paper in three hours before the deadline. Leave yourself plenty of time to do classwork so you can do your best work and really absorb the information. 

Do Have the Tech and Tools You Need

Taking online classes requires some basic technology. You’ll need high-speed internet and a laptop or a tablet with a keyboard. You’ll need some headphones for listening to lectures and other course materials, especially if you’re going to do so in shared spaces at home or in public. You may need specific software tools for your courses, depending on what you study. For some courses, the software could be as basic as Microsoft Office. You’ll also need to buy textbooks and other study materials for your courses. 

Don’t Ignore Your Classmates and Professors

The lack of in-person engagement can be a drawback of online learning. But you can network just as effectively in online master’s programs as you can in brick-and-mortar ones. You may just need to make more of an effort to engage with people online. 

Swap emails with classmates and members of your cohort so you can reach out to each other with questions about assignments. Organize online study groups and online group chats so you can spend time together with your classmates in cyberspace, even if you can’t meet in real life. Engage with your classmates’ work on class discussion forums. Attend your professors’ office hours. If you can, meet up in real life with classmates or go to your professors’ office hours on campus.

Do Look After Yourself

It might seem like you don’t have time to exercise or sleep when you’re in grad school, working, and taking care of a home and family, but the truth is you don’t have time not to. If you stop taking care of yourself, you’ll run down quickly and you’ll probably get sick, and then you’ll be forced to take a break – possibly for much longer than you would have originally spent working out and getting your eight hours of nightly rest. Taking care of yourself is just as important in your schedule as studying or anything else, because you need to be strong and healthy to meet academic and personal challenges.

Are you thinking of going to grad school online? It’s not easy to succeed in online school, despite what you may have heard. You have to do online grad school right if you want to succeed. Make sure you know the dos and don’ts so you can get everything you hope for out of your degree program. 

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The Dos and Don’ts of Going to Grad School Online