Earning your PhD online provides the flexibility to meet the demands of work and family without sacrificing your educational and career goals. Pursuing a PhD whether online or in person requires hard work and determination, but simple tips can keep you on the right track and help you finish your PhD.
Have a Dedicated Space
When you earn your PhD online, you do not have access to an on-campus office typical for graduate students. Instead, create a space either in your home or somewhere else that you consistently use only for studying and working on your PhD. Consider the distractions that could arise, such as arguing children, and create a distraction free study space in your home or go to a local library or cafe to be productive. Set boundaries, and let your family know that when you are studying, you are only available in an emergency.
Talk to Your Employer
Make sure that your employer knows you are pursuing a degree and discuss any supports your company has in place. While earning your PhD online allows you to maintain your family and work commitments, it does require an investment of your time. Create a more flexible schedule or ask if you can work at home on certain days if your company allows it. This lets you schedule your work and education priorities together, especially when you have an exam or paper due. Some companies even offer financial incentives if your degree relates to your job.
Schedule Time with Your Adviser
Especially once you start working on your dissertation, you need to schedule time to communicate with your research adviser. Find out what communication method works best for the both of you – virtual meeting room or online chats. Develop a routine, such as one meeting a month, and stick to the date you set. Establishing a regular virtual meeting time provides accountability because you provide updates on your progress and written work for feedback. While pursuing a PhD online, you do not see faculty daily, which makes it easier to fall behind on your degree.
Get to Know Other Students
Create a network of peers for support and encouragement to keep you going during stressful times. Utilize message boards in online classes to interact with other students in the class and ask questions. If you are part of a cohort, email others in your cohort to introduce yourself and rely upon each other to share experience and relay advice. Agree to find each other on social media to allow for communication outside of formal institutional channels. Forming online or in-person study groups can also help you to connect with others in the program, dedicate time to your studies, and talk through the demanding psychological aspects of getting a PhD.
Completing your PhD online certainly has its benefits, but it does require organization, dedication, and learning to establish new networks and boundaries. Be clear about your goals for a PhD and prioritize them with your work and family commitments. These tips can aid in setting up how you structure your time and support so that you can successfully complete your PhD.