As of February 2019, Western Governors University has more than 113,000 students enrolled nationwide, including more than 3,100 in North Carolina. About 73% of them report that they work full time, with an additional 12% working part time.
WGU is a viable option for students who want to study on their own schedule and progress at their own pace through our competency-based-education model. But let’s face it, juggling family, work, life and studies can be difficult.
WGU North Carolina offers the following tips for studying online:
1. Confirm technical requirements. Before beginning your coursework, make sure that your PC or laptop has the required technical aspects to access and work on your assignments. Make sure you have access to high-speed internet and Wi-Fi (if needed).
2. Set a schedule. You know best what time commitments you have, but block out time on a calendar specifically for your studies and do your best to stick to it. Don’t beat yourself up if you vary from it occasionally, but discipline is the best path to steady academic progress.
3. Create a study space. Find a place in your home that is free of distractions and allows for concentration, whether you prefer absolute quiet or some background noise.
4. Use available resources. Take advantage of math centers, writing centers, career centers, etc., that are available for free from most online universities. There are even Facebook groups of WGU students who share tips and encouragement.
5. Find someone to keep you accountable. WGU mentors develop relationships with students and follow up if they notice extended inactivity. You can also ask a spouse, significant other, family member, fellow student, friend or co-worker to help keep you accountable.
6. Minimize distractions. One WGU student commented on Instagram that she puts her phone in the other room while studying. Limit access to the distracting technology, food and, yes, even people, during your designated study time.
7. Learn from your failures. Lifelong education involves learning from failed assignments, tasks, coursework, etc. Remember that trying, failing, trying again, then succeeding is a normal learning process.
8. Take advantage of mobility. Not all online studying has to take place in your home. If you find yourself with free “bonus” time in a hotel, airplane, coffee shop, car pickup lane or while waiting for your child’s practice to end, you can fire up your laptop and get some studying done. You’d be surprised how much “bonus time” can add up during the week.
9. Plan for breaks. Plan for breaks at the micro and macro levels. Break up your study time into chunks with an “earned” break at the end, such as reading for 30 minutes uninterrupted and then taking a mental break. Studies show that vacations help re-energize workers and make them more productive. The same is also true for studying.
10. Keep the end goal in mind. It’s easy to get lost in the weeds amidst a tough assignment, but keep your eyes on the prize: a degree, a new job, a promotion, a better life. Use that as motivation to help you push through.
WGU North Carolina, an online competency-based university, offers more than 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs including business, K-12 teacher education, information technology and health professions. Check out their full list of degree programs and admissions guide, sign up for their newsletter, or follow them on social media to jump start your education. If you or someone you know is considering online competency-based education to earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree, call 1-866-903-0109 to speak to an enrollment counselor.