Education has taken a step into the digital world this year for students from all subjects and around the world. It is the safest and most efficient option, as it allows students to continue learning even from home, and regardless of what Tier York currently has in place. The only downside is that all higher education options are offering this.
Though this isn’t a bad thing necessarily, it does mean that many students are not getting the level of education they deserve or pay for. The degree you take online must have been designed to be completed online. It is far too soon for a traditionally on-campus degree to suddenly switch to the digital and be successful.
Nursing degrees and nursing certifications offer a great framework that all students should look for in their degree. There have been major breakthroughs in online education, and the medium can be very successful – when designed for that platform.
Nursing certifications are a great example to use because they are better taken online than in-person. You can continue to work and learn online with nursing certifications, for example, and though these nursing certifications will have additional requirements like clinical hours, the framework they offer is still something all York students should look at when it comes to how the future of their education should look like.
It is going to be a while yet before education can continue on track, and you can transfer to a different institute in the meantime until you can continue and finish your degree on campus.
If you are a student in York who feels disenfranchised by how their education has been handled during 2020, use this guide to get back on track and thrive at home.
Switching to Part-Time for Your Online Education
If you can, it is highly recommended that you switch to becoming a part-time student if you can. There are downsides to doing this; for example, if you are currently eligible for a grant that only applies if you are a part-time student, but if you aren’t in such a situation, then going part-time offers several benefits.
The Ability to Work and Study
Working and studying offers many benefits. For most students, it will allow you to support yourselves or, better yet, the chance to gain professional qualifications while you study. This could even be with a full-time job, but you will need to check what the policy on part-time education is with your institution in these instances.
With nurses, for example, you are automatically expected to continue with your career while you take on a least one course at a time. This often means an additional 10 to 15 hours spent per week on coursework and studying, and will often be spaced out in a 7-1-7 format, so seven weeks studying, one week break.
Though this opportunity to work while you complete nursing certifications is essential for frontline workers, it is also an option for all students. By putting an equal emphasis on professional qualifications as well as your education, you can put yourself above other recent graduate candidates once you finally graduate.
Don’t just look for internship opportunities, either. Real, paid work experience of almost any type can be essential, so look for contract work, part-time work, and even freelance work to boost your professional qualifications while working to bring in more of an income.
The Chance to Adapt to Online Education
By switching to part-time, instead of full-time online education, you give yourself a better chance to adapt. You will lose out on a lot when you take a degree full-time online. For one, you don’t get the chance to learn in different environments or through different learning models. You also cannot work collaboratively with your fellow students in the same way.
Learning online is different. It can be better, as in the case of nursing certifications, but it will always be different. For those who are not used to learning online, or those who are completing a degree that was previously entirely on-campus and in-person, switching to part-time will give you that extra breathing space to get used to the new format without putting a full brake on your progress.
The Ability to Spread Out Your Education Until Lockdown Ends
For degrees like these nursing certifications, you don’t need to actively try to spread out your degree. It is better done online, full stop.
With degrees that were meant to be completed in person, taking a step back and learning on a part-time basis can mean you can spread as much of your online education as possible so that the bulk of your education can still take place in person in the future. This will entirely depend on the options available to you, yes, but it is a great alternative to deferring the year.
Think Hard on Career Prospects and Employability
This year has also been a good time for students to really look hard at the employability their degree offers. For nurses, it’s easy. You earn nursing certifications and degrees in the area of medicine or care that interests you, and you are qualified for that role. It is very clear-cut and straightforward, and with the nursing shortage and strain on the NHS, it is very easy to get a job and start your career.
Other degrees are not so straightforward. If being employed and working right out of university is important to you, it’s important that you choose a degree or switch to the degree that puts career skills and employability at its forefront. The differences between institutions for the same degree can be staggering, so look for the option that has close connections to companies and who puts career skills at the heart of the education track.
This isn’t quite as essential in more universal degrees, like English or Maths degrees, but it is still worth looking into. In some cases, your current university may already offer career building skills, only on an optional basis. If this is the case for your university, it’s time to finally start making your degree hyper-relevant to your dream career path.
How to Succeed in Online Education
Successfully completing a degree online, regardless of whether you are working towards a career-focused specialisation like nursing, studying part-time, or just suddenly stuck with an online learning model, can be done with these tips:
Set up a Great WFH Space
A great work-from-home space is essential and could require a bit of hacking if you live in a particularly small space. There are a few things you will need.
- A large enough surface to work on
- Lots of natural, bright light
- A comfortable and supportive chair
This doesn’t mean you have to work exclusively in this area. You can move around, work from your couch or your kitchen table, but by having this WFH space set up, you have somewhere to go that ticks all the boxes for concentration. To get the best levels of natural light, the desk should ideally be either facing a window or next to it, and if you can, try to keep electronics out of sight of your desk to keep your concentration high.
Improve Your Eating Habits and Snacks
Keeping fuelled is critical, but so too is what you eat. Foods that provide long-lasting energy are ideal for those, regardless of whether you are studying full-time, part-time, or working and studying.
Try to eat foods high in nutrients, and particularly fibre. Slow-releasing energy is better for your health and your longevity. As part of this trip, try to reduce your intake of short-term highs. Sugar, in particular, provides a huge crash, and the same can be said for coffee. Simple replacements, like matcha instead of coffee, can provide you better, ongoing energy throughout the day.
Examples of healthy snacks you can enjoy include fruits, nuts, and protein bars. By having these on hand, you can keep your mind fresh and healthy throughout the day.
Hydration is important for stress management, for your immune system, and above all else, for your concentration and cognitive function. Whatever drink you are using to stay energised, remember to drink a glass of water between or alongside it. Drink a small cup of coffee, drink a glass of water. Drink tea, follow up with water. It will help keep you hydrated and healthy.
As a bonus, being properly hydrated throughout the day can drastically improve your sleep quality.
Improve Your Sleep Quality
All the coffee in your cupboard cannot help if you have a bad night’s rest. There are many different factors that can affect your quality of sleep, including:
- Room temperature
- How clean your sheets are
- Smells in the room
- Position of your spine and neck
- Hydration levels
- Hunger levels
- Stress levels
- And more
Narrowing down what is going wrong with your sleep can be difficult, mostly because it’s rarely just one thing. The best solution to get a better night’s sleep is to improve your bedding and improve your routine.
The mind goes to sleep and wakes up naturally based on what our internal circadian rhythms dictate. These rhythms revolve around light levels, so using natural light or the right light bulbs at the right time and staying away from the blue-white light of electronics after the sun goes down can help. Follow up with a consistent sleep pattern (same bedtime and same wake-up time), and you can get your body into the right habits.
As the position your spine is in can also make a huge difference, you will also want to consider a new mattress or mattress topper or a new pillow to give your body the support it needs.
Find the Right Study Routine
There are many different study routine options but do know that the best one is the one that includes regular, productive breaks. By product break, we don’t mean you work on something else – even a personal project. Instead, a productive break is one where you leave your desk, enjoy a healthy snack, a drink of water, a stretch, or even just a moment where you let your mind rest in meditation.
These breaks are key to successfully staying productive. So whether you are a nurse completing nursing certifications between shifts, or a full-time media student, find the right work/break ratio that works for you.
Provide Ongoing Feedback to Your University
Unless your education was designed to be completed online, like with these nursing certifications, then there is massive room for improvement. Not only do you have a right to provide feedback, but you can also make a massive difference for yourself and for your fellow students by providing it.
Don’t just send this feedback to your course leaders or lecturers. Send it directly to the department or higher up to the Dean’s office. Your department is a good place to start, especially if you offer actionable suggestions. For example, to request that the course leader automatically starts Zoom classes with all students on mute or set up a better system to hear what is being said without anyone talking over one another.
If you know of a tool that would help with your learning, let them know. They are struggling too and want to help you learn the best you can, so if you have an idea on how they can improve, let them know. You can even put together course emails so that the department knows that several students feel there is a problem and believe in the solution you have put forth.
Of course, if you don’t know of a specific solution, it’s still important to let them know about a complaint! It is your university and your department’s job to educate you to the best of their ability, and if there is a glaring issue that multiple students notice, they need to know about it. Keeping quiet or waiting until your course is over is not a solution. Tell them now, and make yourself heard.