Enrolling in an online graduate program means you don't need to quit your job or risk failing to meet work obligations because you'll be attending classes, seminars, group discussions, and other learning events. Online master's courses are often delivered in asynchronous formats, where students access learning materials, take exams, and communicate at their own pace.
However, certain graduate programs can be synchronous instead, a style in which learners and instructors meet in a virtual classroom at a specific time for courses each week. But even with synchronous courses, your day-to-day activities are rarely interrupted, as classes are typically held after the traditional 9-5 working hours.
No matter which structure of learning your program accommodates, you can rest assured knowing you're creating new career opportunities without sacrificing your everyday commitments.
Experience flexible, self-paced learning
A primary advantage of online courses, both for bachelor's degrees and master's programs, is their flexibility. The ability to work at your own pace to complete assignments is crucial for those who have jobs, family obligations, errands to run, or simply don't have enough time to fit everything into their daily routine.
If you're a morning person, you can watch a recorded lecture and write your weekly online forum response before work. If you prefer burning the midnight oil instead, you can go about your day knowing you'll catch up with your studies later that night.
Enrolling in an online master's degree allows you to fit your learning schedule around your life — instead of the other way around.
Develop better time management skills
Time management is an essential skill for any student and working professional. However, when you no longer need to go to campus to attend classes, it's easy to let procrastination get in the way of your academic goals.
Students who leverage the online learning context and use it to enhance their time management skills are often the most successful in their studies.
Instead of relying on a set schedule (excluding synchronous online learning environments), you'll learn to consciously set time aside at regular intervals each week to complete your studies, aiding in your skill development that can be added to your resume.
Learn how to collaborate virtually
Learning to communicate and collaborate virtually helps you become a more effective team member and leader. Because you'll likely be participating in online forums and working on projects with your classmates, an online master's degree equips you with the skills needed to communicate your ideas clearly.
In addition, you may have courses where you will need to collaborate with peers through various software programs, developing your technical and communication skills all at once.
Gain a broader range of classmate perspectives
Successful, well-rounded graduate students embrace diverse perspectives. Because an online master's degree can pool students worldwide, this form of social learning is impactful and insightful.
With increased opportunities to meet new people and become more culturally aware, you'll break down barriers between your peers, get exposed to different ideas, and even leverage your relationships to enhance your own creativity.
Tips for Staying Social While Studying Online
Join an on-campus or online club
Campus clubs are an exciting way to explore your hobbies while meeting others who share your interests. No matter if you're passionate about high-level robotics or classic American literature, there's likely a club at your university that fits the bill and brings like-minded students together.
To maintain a social presence at your university, it's a good idea to review their club offerings and find one that intrigues you. While some may be exclusively on-campus, others might be offered in virtual settings so you can participate at a distance.
Make peer connections in group discussion boards
The value of student-to-student interaction in online learning environments cannot be overstated.
Because your master's program will likely have courses where you'll participate in group discussion boards, participating in these conversations not only benefits your grade — it also serves as an avenue to meet people with similar life goals.
When you regularly participate in group discussions, comment on others' posts, and show that you're open to establishing social connections, you have a greater opportunity to take peer discussions outside the classroom.
Participate in study groups
Favored in both on-campus and online programs, study groups motivate students to combat procrastination, build their communication skills, and exercise their creativity. When you bounce ideas off of another person, it refines your understanding of the course content and gives you more confidence in the material.
Active participation in study groups keeps you involved throughout your studies, all while helping you find opportunities to be social with others within your program.
Attend in-person or virtual campus events
Campus events are a refreshing and often much-needed change of scenery for students. These events are often a space to try out new activities, interact with other students and teachers, and even expand your network.
While many campus events are held on a university's grounds, plenty of virtual events are present at Tulane SoPA, whether they're featuring a guest speaker in a certain field or conducting a skill-building workshop. By attending events, you'll not only demonstrate your school pride but also have the potential to meet influential people who can help accelerate your career.
Make connections with faculty
On and off campus, all students should seek to build rapport with teachers. Though their social presence may not always be there during online classes, you can still take steps to make yourself known by your program's faculty.
Most, if not all, on-campus professors are obligated to set aside time in their week to hold office hours with students.
Online faculty are required to file suit.
Showing up for office hours, actively participating in synchronous classes, and emailing your professor with your questions and concerns shows your commitment to your studies and opens the door to greater social interaction.
Earn Your Online Master's Degree at Tulane SoPA
At Tulane SoPA, our online master's degrees are designed for working professionals looking to advance their education on their own terms. With opportunities for valuable peer-to-peer and student-to-faculty relationships, our graduate programs can help you take the next step in your career and build a social community that follows you beyond graduation.
Start your application or request more information today to learn about making social connections in your online master's degree.