Interested in an Online Degree Everything You Need to Know Before You Get Started

Interested in an online degree? Done right, your online degree can completely change your future. Choose the right degree and use the tips outlined in this guide, and you can direct your career forward or into a new direction, all without taking essential time out from your career. 

A social worker can apply to the best of the online MSW programs and continue to work. They can continue to help families, children, and individuals while progressing their expertise and their qualifications further. In addition, they can do so while helping in-need communities that have a lack of resources. 

Rural communities are often devoid of the ample opportunities found in cities. They are also where a better quality of life can be found. Where you can buy your own home and can, in most cases, afford a better quality of life for yourself. If you can combine those benefits with the resources and opportunities found in cities, then you have the perfect combination. 

Remote working is on the horizon, but online education is already here. If you are interested in an online degree like these online MSW programs, then you need to use this guide to help you learn everything you need to know before you get started: 

When is Online Education Better than On-Campus Education? 

There are pros and cons to both types of education. The only difference is that traditional, on-campus education has had hundreds upon hundreds of years to iron out the kinks. Therefore, the version of higher education is best, but online education is quickly catching up.

The benefits that online education offers also trump traditional education. That being said, there is a time and place for each. 

On-campus education is best for hands-on subjects like the arts or even certain applied sciences. Online education is best for those who are already well into their career and who want to either progress further with a degree or change the direction of their career. 

Just because you need a hands-on learning environment does not necessarily mean that you cannot benefit from an online degree. Online MSW programs always have fieldwork placements included. This way, you can learn the theory remotely and, on your schedule, and then take less time off to learn in the field. You could even potentially do your fieldwork at your existing clinic. 

The easiest way to see this is that on-campus education is best for a hands-on approach. Teenagers moving away from home for the first time often benefit from that hands-on approach because it is not just their subject they are learning; it is several key life skills. 

For those who are looking to get a masters or otherwise further their career, online education is preferable. It allows you to get the skills you need while maintaining your day job. Furthermore, with most degrees, even laudable online MSW programs, you can often enroll regardless of where you are living in the United States. There are occasionally exceptions, of course, but the general consensus is that you can live anywhere in the US and still be able to apply and attend a top university. 

This expands your education opportunities while keeping your costs low and maintains your ability to work and support yourself. 

What to Watch Out for When Choosing an Online Degree

The coronavirus pandemic pushed every university into a digital world. Many, some would say even most, were not ready for it. The pandemic highlighted the difference between a quality online degree and a poor one. You cannot just throw a traditional degree into the online world – it does not work. You need to instead build and create the degree with the intention of remote learning. 

It can feel difficult to find a good online degree, but so long as you check for these three characteristics, you should be good regardless of whether you are looking for a law degree, a nursing degree, or even online MSW programs. 

  • The Reputation

While the university’s overall reputation or college is important, you need to be more specific than that. Look at the ranking of the degree and the department. Find real reviews and testimonies from alumni, and even consider getting in touch with some graduates to hear about their experience first-hand. 

You can find these graduates either through the university itself or just by doing a quick search on sites like LinkedIn. 

  • The Resources

When looking at your potential degree, you will need to pay particularly close attention to what digital tools they will use in their online learning environment. Set a benchmark for yourself by looking at what the top online providers offer and compare that to your specific subject. 

  • The Career Connections 

The prospective students who want an online degree are those who have a career and are pursuing their degree for the sake of their career. In some cases, this will be because it is a legal requirement. For example, nurses must further their academic qualifications to move up the career ladder. The same is true for social workers. 

You need your degree to have a finger on the pulse point of your industry. It should either be run by industry professionals or work closely with employers or the job market as a whole. This way, you can get real advice and build a network that will help you further your career beyond just the degree itself. 

When to Enroll 

When you should enroll depends entirely on the popularity of the course you want to apply to, as well as the field you are in. Some degrees are niche, meaning that you can apply and be accepted to the next intake period. Others, like the top online MSW programs, are very, very popular. Unfortunately, since they are popular, there is often a waiting list. 

Do not be dissuaded if you do not get immediately accepted. This is normal. It does not mean that you do not have the qualifications necessary, just that others like you applied before you. That is why for degrees like those online MSW programs, it is recommended that you apply between 9 to 12 months in advance or put another way to expect between 9 to 12 months from application between starting your online degree. 

What to Improve Before You Start 

Though this can feel like a long time, there are many things you can do to improve your experience. The best part is that they help with every part of your life. You can make significant progress in your personal life, in your career, and in your personal projects. The right routines can build on your goals brick by brick, but it does take time to get into the swing of things. It can take between 18 days to 254 days to make something into a habit. The good news is that it takes most an average of 66 days to start doing things automatically, which means if you start from the moment you apply to those online MSW programs, you can have the right routines and habits that will help you succeed in your life ready to go. 

Your Health 

Your health is a great place to start because it is something that only exists with routine. Eating a healthy meal once a week is not routine, and therefore will not give you the health benefits you are looking for. 

Unfortunately, changing your health habits is also one of the hardest things to do, but so long as you do not give up, you can get there. Try to make transitions as painless as possible and stick to routines that are easy until they feel as natural as breathing. 

Examples of these easy routines include going to sleep at the same time and waiting up at the same time every day – even on weekends. This way, you can train your body to get tired at the right times and to naturally wake you up well-rested

Harder changes will be things like diet and exercise. Try to find enjoyable ways to do both. For example, rather than work out at a gym if you do not like it, instead find a dance class or other sport you enjoy. Instead of cutting out every unhealthy thing you eat, find healthier alternatives (instead of a chocolate bar snack, have a trail mix bar, for example). This way, you can make small but significant steps forward. 

Your Routines

When you first start a new job, it is exhausting. It takes all your focus and effort, and days seem to stretch on longer. But, as you settle in, those days become easier, and the effort takes less. A single day can go by in the blink of an eye because your brain knows what to expect. 

That is what you want out of your study periods. To get prepared for them, pick a few online courses for fun. There are so many great free options out there that you can learn anything. You can even spend the time preparing yourself by going through reading lists or going through case studies if you want your study periods to be more applicable to your career. 

You do not need to be hyper-strict about it either. For example, if you are a social worker who wants to prepare for their online MSW programs, brush up your knowledge in other social sciences and even history. Understanding generational trauma and different cultures can be imperative for your career, and many online free options give you a crash course into these topics. 

For now, you will take the wheel in what you learn, but so long as you stick with the same block of time and study in the same place, you are building a routine that can easily transition. So, to expand your understanding now and be ready for those online MSW programs in the future. 

Your Memory 

There are many ways to improve your memory. Some of these are health related. Others require practice. You should already be working to reduce your sugar intake and get enough sleep, but that is just the start of what you can do to improve your ability to recall information. 

The good news is that games are a good way to do this. There are fun apps and online games that help you train your brain to recall information that you can practice during your downtime – even on your commute if you take public transport. 

Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Online Degree 

Getting the most out of your online degree from here on out will be about using the right tools. You should already have improved your health, have a good learning routine going, and have worked on your memory. The rest is about leveraging the tools and resources available to you. 

Start first with the right note-taking application. There are many out there, free and paid, and it will boil down to preference. Overall, you will want it to have a few capabilities. The first is to save or generate references automatically. The second is for it to be cloud-based to access those notes and add to them wherever you are. Cloud-based educational tools are very useful, as you can work collaboratively with others doing your degree so that you can take a load off. Students at Ivy League institutions do this all the time to spread out the workload and create notes from their textbooks. There is no reason why you cannot do the same. 

For the most part, you will overall use the tools that feel natural to you. The best thing you can do for your individual education is to discover what your options are. The best place to start with this is by getting in touch with your university or college. From online publications and journals to even some lesser-used tools, there are many resources available to you that can make a big difference to your learning experience. 

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