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What does it take to be an online student?

Computers on a desk

There isn’t a typical student profile for online and part-time learners; people of all ages from around the world and with different backgrounds are realising the benefits of distance learning. However there are some qualities that will help you to succeed when studying online…



Online learning relies on you being self-motivated. Whilst you’ll be supported and encouraged by your personal Student Adviser, it’s ultimately down to you to log on and get involved. Learning online offers the ultimate flexibility to choose where and when to study. However, this high level of freedom means you have to be responsible and allocate your time accordingly. If you struggle to motivate yourself it’s useful to share your timetable and deadlines with someone close to you who can encourage and drive you along the way.



Tied to being self-motivated, it also helps if you’re organised. Students studying online are usually also managing work and/or family commitments. Juggling these priorities can put a strain on your time, so being organised and sticking to a schedule will help you maintain a healthy work/life balance. If you’re considering studying online it’s useful to start getting into a routine a few weeks before your course starts. Identify times of the day that you could dedicate to studying and practise keeping these free to build a routine. It might be during your lunch break, after you’ve put the kids to bed or in the morning before your workday begins.



Communication skills are vital to online learning. Your tutor will be reliant on you raising your (virtual) hand if you don’t understand something. They can’t pick up on visual clues which they could spot in a face-to-face seminar room. It can be easy to sit back and be an observer online but you’ll get the most from your degree by engaging and asking questions. Online learning attracts a wide variety of people and you’ll be able to interact with professionals and students who have a shared interest. You can bounce ideas off each other; learn from each other’s experiences, discuss topics and create lifelong networks.


Comfortable using technology

Obviously if you’re going to study online it helps if you’re confident using a computer. Advances in technology means that online courses are more interactive than ever. Our students can join live Q&A sessions, message each other online, chat with tutors and interact on social media. Most of these communications are written so it helps if you’re comfortable expressing yourself through the written word. A good way to practise is simply to write more – keeping an online diary, blogging or joining Facebook will encourage you to write more often.



Completing a degree, online or on campus, takes commitment. You’ll dedicate years of your life to exploring a subject and invest both time and money in your education. It takes commitment and determination to make it to graduation. Most online students study part-time so it will take approximately 4 years to complete an undergraduate degree, and around 2 years to complete a postgraduate qualification. Being confident in your course choice will help you reach the end goal. Make sure you fully research your course, university and graduate career options before you apply.


Inspired to study online? Download our prospectus today