As we get older, all but the most fortunate of us realize that the dreams we had as children about what we’d be doing for a living as adults aren’t going to come true. One in every few thousand of us will go on to play sports professionally, become a movie star, or fly a spaceship to the moon, but the majority of us will have to make do with jobs we didn’t consider. That can be a source of unhappiness – especially when we believe we’re capable of doing so much more.
When this moment of realization comes, it’s common to wish that we’d paid more attention at school, or followed up on our schooling by obtaining a diploma, a degree, or a professional qualification that would open up more lucrative careers to us than the one we’re stuck within. This doesn’t have to be a regret, though – you can turn such a feeling into an opportunity instead.
Home learning courses are now more popular than ever before. In the past, taking a higher education course as an adult was almost impossible; traveling to study while working full time and trying to have a home life simply put too much strain on people’s time – especially people with children or young families. Now, because of the internet, they’re more accessible than ever before. Not only that, courses are increasingly offering students the chance to learn at their own pace, which means demands on time aren’t as tight as they would be under a conventional educational calendar. Some leading universities are even planning to offer full versions of all their courses online within the next five years.
If you want to better yourself and your career prospects, and you believe a new qualification is the best way to do it, there’s never been a better time than right now. But how should you go about it? Here’s some basic advice, condensed into five tips!
1. Choose Carefully
We’re putting this tip first, because it’s the most important. You should only book and pay for an online or distance education course from a trusted and verified source. Online learning is a multi-billion dollar industry, and any industry generating that much cash is likely to become a target for scammers and fraudsters. There are so many places on the internet offering qualifications that it can sometimes feel like you’ve walked into a casino of knowledge, where every purported university is nothing more than a mobile slots website like Amigo Slots taking your money and offering you the chance of a reward at a later date, so long as you invest enough of your time and cash. A reputable online slots site will tell you the odds before you spend your money, though, and so will a reputable university.
Where possible, only sign up to an education course which is offered by a known, verified, and trusted institution. Search forums, search for reviews, and Google the names of the people offering the courses. Only commit your money when you can find qualifications, happy customers, and a track record of success.
2. Get To Know Your Tutor
The teacher/student relationship with distance learning is very different from a teacher/student relationship that happens in the flesh. Unless you make an effort to get in contact with your tutor, they’ll just be a name on the screen to you – as will you to them. Don’t forget that they’re just as human as you are, and they’re there to help you. They got into teaching because they wanted to share their knowledge with people, and they’ll engage with you if you build a relationship.
Email or telephone your tutor as soon as you find out who they are, and introduce yourself. Tell them why you’ve taken the course, and what you hope to gain from it. Explain any concerns you have. Just as importantly, thank them for their assistance and always implement their feedback. If your tutor takes a personal interest in your education, they’re more likely to proactively guide you toward the results you want.
3. Listen To Your Body
Most people fall down with distance learning because they try to force themselves to learn when their mind and body isn’t in a condition to do so. Our energy levels vary from day to day, and so if we’ve had an especially busy day and we’re tired, we’re not in the best frame of mind to study. This is why you shouldn’t have a rigid schedule.
Instead of forcing yourself to sit down at the same time every night to study, instead target a specific number of hours per week. So long as you hit that mark, it doesn’t matter when you do your study. If you’re trying to force the issue while half asleep, you won’t retain any knowledge. Go to bed when you’re tired, and make a note you’ll have to catch up those hours at a later date. Be flexible.
4. Set Milestones, And Celebrate
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, and Jill a dull girl. If your studies are nothing but a relentless slog, you’ll come to resent them. Eventually, you’ll give up because you don’t enjoy anything about the process. Doing a degree or a diploma is an enormous undertaking, and doing it in isolation makes it even more arduous. Break it up into parts, and make sure you take the time to celebrate the small things.
Even the busiest schedule can afford a day or two here or there for celebration, so book yourself some in. Go out for dinner after submitting an important essay. Take a brief vacation after finishing a module. Try to work out where you are on your journey at all times, and how far you have left to go. That way, you can track progress – and this will help you stay motivated.
5. Establish Boundaries
Anybody who’s ever worked from home will tell you that people sometimes don’t respect your space. Even family members can make the mistake of assuming that if you’re at home, you’re ‘available,’ and can therefore either perform tasks or otherwise communicate with them in a way that you wouldn’t be able to if you were in an office. The same is true of studying from home.
Studying in a room of your house where people socialize is a recipe for disaster. Even if you live alone, studying in the same place you usually watch television isn’t a good idea. Your mind doesn’t associate the room with hard work or concentration, and so it becomes difficult to get ‘in the zone.’ Whether it’s a full room in your home or just a corner, turn something into a study area, and make it very clear to anyone you share a home with that you’re not to be disturbed while you’re there. A comfortable chair will help you no end, too.