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Choosing the right degree and optimizing the learning experience

Upskilling and reskilling are commonplace in modern-day markets. With fast-growing and emerging innovations affecting most industries, continued learning is necessary to stay ahead of the pack and promote professional development.

However, deciding which learning avenues to explore is easier said than done. As a prospective candidate, you might be plagued with worries about the value of your chosen course, just how effectively it will boost your career and how you’ll manage to fit studies into an already-crammed schedule.

Luckily, there are tangible steps you can take before and during your study process to alleviate these fears. Here, we’ll take a look at these considerations before embarking on a specific degree and how you can maximize your learning experience.

Thorough research

Choosing a specific field of study is not a decision to be taken lightly. Find out everything you can about what you’re interested in before jumping in and registering.

This means looking at different programs offered by different institutions. You should familiarize yourself with course outlines, timeframes and fees. Don’t rush this process. Remember, being able to meet the study requirements is important.

It will also help to connect with other professionals who are already working in your chosen field of study. They can give you a real-life account of what a career after graduation looks like.

Taking your time to compare the various degree offerings will help you make an informed decision. Looking at reviews or talking to other existing students at a learning institution can give you valuable insights.

You must also weigh the relevance of your chosen degree in real-world scenarios. Can this qualification land you a job, or could it just end up being a piece of paper or bragging rights on your wall?

With ever-developing technologies, many positions are downsized or becoming obsolete. It’s important to follow your inclinations, but it’s equally important to pursue an educational foundation you can build a career on.

Follow your passion

Study for a degree that aligns with your interests and passions. Remember, a career takes up most of your time. If it’s something that doesn’t bring a sense of achievement, it only creates a long-term cage of frustration.

People are naturally drawn to diverse disciplines. Some of these include education, information technology, politics and healthcare. Each discipline contains unique aspects that will appeal to certain personalities. People put more effort into the things they like – this includes their studies and jobs.

Deciding on a degree in a field that grabs your interest paves the way for a satisfying career. Specialties usually embed numerous sub-branches or micro-specialties that may demand further study and skills building. Keep this in mind when choosing your type of degree.

It’s helpful to look at passions and background information through the same lens. Ideally, one should complement the other.

Amalgamated disciplines

Often, people look at a discipline such as education, finance or healthcare in isolation and fail to explore the opportunities linked to merged disciplines. For example, career possibilities in the healthcare sector often require a combination of leadership, financial, human resources and practical skills. Because this field’s diverse nature can open many doors, it deserves a closer look.

Healthcare is much more intricate than a network of nurses and doctors. It needs equal dedication from those behind the scenes, such as ancillary services and admissions, to deliver a successful service.

Recognizing these unique needs, the University of Ottawa has integrated healthcare and business management into a executive master of health administration online in Canada. This program is not only accessible, but it also leverages professional experience and hones candidates to become strategic, well-rounded healthcare leaders. The Tefler Executive Master of Health Administration covers all the contemporary fundamentals for today’s healthcare market such as data, technology and other innovations.

Difference between similar courses

Often, degree programs have overlapping elements, and the difference lies in the fine details. You should be aware of these if you’re to make the right choice for an optimized learning experience.

For instance, an MBA – or master’s in business administration – equips candidates with business skills to better their leadership abilities in different settings. A master’s in health administration, on the other hand, zooms in on healthcare and readies students for the management, clinical and policy demands associated with the healthcare sector.

Both of these qualifications provide lucrative career potential in the healthcare sector. A choice between the two largely depends on personal passions and ultimate goals.

In a healthcare management course, you’ll learn about financial management, ethical leadership, operations and marketing. Remember, a master’s in health administration takes these general principles and makes them specific to different healthcare settings.

These finer details are relevant in many other fields. So, deciding on a degree and career is not an overnight decision you take after a few clicks on Google. It’s your future, and it deserves careful thought.

Key questions

Choosing a degree may seem like an insurmountable mountain. There is some pressure to get it right, but by answering a few key questions, you can discover some answers quite easily.

Often, finding the right course of study depends on your desired outcomes. Ask yourself what motivates you to return to studying.

You may want to fast-track your current career and boost it with some upskilling. If so, considering a master’s to supplement your bachelor’s, for example, might be the answer.

However, if you want a complete change, reskilling with a bachelor’s or certificate may prove the prudent option. It all depends on your goals. Without a focus, your study boat is bobbing around without a rudder.

When determining your goals, you can also link them to timelines. Personally-set deadlines keep you motivated and on target.

Once you clarify your outcomes, take a look at those all-important credentials needed for your chosen program. Sometimes you may first need to complete a bridging course to meet certain degree requirements.

Lastly, investigate further possibilities after degree completion. In some cases, your newly acquired degree may not be enough. For instance, a master’s in accounting requires you to take a CPA exam before you can start practicing.

Remember, before or even after registration, you can always change your mind. Nothing is cast in stone, and nothing is wrong with changing direction. Once a program is underway, many students find that it’s not what they envisioned. It’s important to attain a degree that suits you.

Avoid external pressures, such as expectations from family or friends. Their interests are different or not completely aligned with yours. Ensure you study something you really want to study.

Keep in mind that money isn’t everything. While a lucrative salary is always welcome, if you are not happy or fulfilled, there may be little point of pursuing a degree and career just for the remuneration. With this said, it’s still advisable to keep an eye on trending remuneration scales in different fields to see that you are investing in your future.

Arming yourself with the entire spectrum of necessary information leads to the right study choices. Once you’ve made your choice, you can examine ways to optimize your learning experience.

Maximizing your learning experience

We all know studying is a challenge that requires discipline and drive. A pragmatic approach helps set your feet on the right path from the start. It helps you manage your time, enjoy your studies and cultivate a sense of achievement that motivates you to even greater heights.

Dedicate a space to your studies

Studying requires a space that’s free from distractions. Things such as streaming online content and studying where other people are talking or moving about are not conducive to success.

Establishing a diversion-free zone is essential. Make this your exclusive study nook and keep it that way.

This can be a challenge with online studies in a home environment because this is also the space where your family lives and relaxes. It may help to have a meeting and involve your loved ones in the importance of your studies. Let them know that this is your specially reserved study space and ask them to respect it.

Also, experts advise that studying on a couch or bed is not productive. A good posture assists with better concentration and alertness.

Time management

As a deadline-driven concept, time management is always important when one studies. This is doubly true for those who juggle a full-time career and family on top of achieving their degree.

Once you receive your course outline, have a look at when assignments are due and exams must be completed. Doing this will give you an immediate idea of how to start structuring your schedule.

When this macro framework is known, you can start tackling your micro time planning. This will include things such as the number of hours for study each day and at what points assignments should be completed.

Again, if you live with others, make them a part of your plans. Let them know when you need some silence in the home and for how long.

Write your schedule down and stick to it. Dedicating set hours to study wins the race without undue stress.

Fine-tune your study methods

Again, a macro-to-micro strategy comes in handy with your actual studies. Chunking is a process where you take a large quantity of work and break it down into ‘chewable’ bits for processing. This strategy goes hand in hand with time management as you divide the size of tasks and the time spent on them.

Educational experts often advise that students incorporate rewards when accomplishing a micro task. This can be anything from watching an episode of a favorite show or going for a walk.

Motivate yourself

Despite your well-set routine, there may still be times when you feel overwhelmed during your coursework. Studies show that this is especially the case with online learning. Candidates are not in a physical learning environment and may feel isolated and despondent.

Firstly, recognize when your motivation levels dip and explore the reason why this happens. Once you know the root of the problem, you can devise the remedy. There are several ‘remedies’ you can try to stay inspired.

Attempt to increase your interest in the work at hand. Some tasks will be tedious and may need a little extra input. Instead of putting them off, engage your creativity and imagination to devise a way to make them interesting.

Sometimes when studying online, you may feel disconnected from an assignment. Personalize this work by finding meaningful significance in it. In other words, explore a way to make it important and valuable to you.

Connect with your online peers. They will be experiencing the same frustrations, and using them as a sound boarding can help alleviate a feeling of ‘you’re in this alone’ during your studies.

Use ‘future vision’ and see yourself in a position where you’ve mastered your degree or assignment. This may be immediate credits earned or long-term career goals. Recognize your studies for what they are – stepping blocks to personal and professional fulfillment.

No one denies the challenges innate to graduate or post-graduate studies. However, these simple steps offer a structure that alleviates unnecessary stressors and help you with sound decision-making and planning processes.

I am an entrepreneur, father, mentor, and adventurer passionate about life. At this moment, I am working on education and learning.