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Strategies for Studying to Earn Your Degree Online

07 Jan

If you aspire to earn a business leadership role, whether in general management or data analytics, choosing William & Mary’s Raymond A. Mason School of Business for your Online MBA or Master of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA) is a wise first step. At William & Mary, you’ll receive world-class instruction and join a centuries-long legacy of academic excellence.1 You’ll also be trained with a focus on flexibility and how to ask the right questions, so let’s get started with your first big question: What are the best strategies for studying online, and how can you prepare to meet the associated demands of online coursework?

Studying Online? Take Time to Plan Ahead

Just because you’ll be studying online doesn’t mean pursuing your degree won’t require a great deal of your time. Ensuring that your studies can accommodate your current job, your personal life and family, and other obligations will take some thoughtful planning. Not only that, but you should also plan for the practical exigencies of earning your degree online, like making sure you have dependable internet access and a strong understanding of the equipment you’ll be using to take classes.

If you choose or are required to buy a new computer, get familiar with it before classes start, as trying to learn new technology and course content at the same time could be unnecessarily challenging.

Enlist Your Network for Support

Once your classes begin, you will likely have to make a few strategic adjustments to your regular schedule. Whether it’s time with family and friends, leisure activities or hobbies, or a few opportunities to sleep in, your schedule and lifestyle will require some shifting—maybe even some temporary sacrifices—in order to accommodate your studies. But you’re not in it alone.

Let everyone in your personal and professional network know that you are now studying to earn your degree online, and make your family, friends, and work colleagues aware of the goals associated with earning a graduate degree. When those who love and support you are aware of your current pursuit and what it will demand, they can take a more active role in making sure you get the time you need to study.

Set a Schedule and Build Your Routine

Set aside time that is dedicated to coursework and to the rest of your obligations. Consistency is key when studying online, so make sure you plan for the appropriate daily or weekly periods of study. If you can master this, you’ll be far less likely to ever fall behind.

In addition to carving out the time to study every day, it’s also helpful to choose a specific place for this work; this can be a certain spot at home, a coworking space, or your favorite coffee shop. Intentionally creating the time and space for your online studies—working it in as part of your daily routine—will help drive you forward in moments when motivation seems hard to come by.

Grow Your Network

Your instructors and cohort peers are valuable resources for your studies and, potentially, in your future networking and career development efforts. In the William & Mary Online MBA and Online MSBA programs, you will be able to easily collaborate and converse with both groups through the digital learning management system, which features discussion boards, group work assignments, video lectures and feedback request modules.

For students in the Online MBA program, you will also have an opportunity to meet faculty and peers face to face during an onsite residency experience. But even if your program does not include an on-ground requirement, getting to know others in your program could pay dividends in the immediate and more distant future.

Practice Personal Accountability

Without the built-in accountability of a physical classroom and daily in-person contact, procrastination becomes one of the greatest challenges for students who are studying to earn a degree online. Whether you dream of a future in business leadership or data analytics, use this time now to practice setting your own goals and deadlines, and then hold yourself accountable to them. Beyond the skills you learn in class, self-reliance will be one of your greatest assets after you earn your degree and begin making your future in the business world.

Armed with key strategies for studying online, there is no better time than this to start pursuing your graduate degree. With the Online MBA and Online MSBA programs from William & Mary, you can develop the business acumen, strategic thinking and communication skills you’ll need to revolutionize the organizations and communities in which you work.