Five Tips to Stay Motivated During an Online Degree Program

April 23, 2024

Kasey Ryman

Ed.D. in Public Health Education

Online degree programs are a convenient and affordable way for more people to reach their academic goals while also keeping up with busy lifestyles. One of the main challenges new students find when beginning an online degree program is staying motivated. Stressors like making it to class on time and attending strictly scheduled exams are alleviated in the online environment. This is good if you already practice strong self-discipline and willpower, but if you are someone who struggles with self-motivation, don’t worry! Here are five tips to stay motivated when starting an online degree program.

  • Tip 1: Decide what time of day is most productive for schoolwork. It’s important to know when you will be able to fully concentrate on tasks. Some people enjoy working right after their morning coffee or maybe late mornings work best because the kids are off to school. Some people are night owls. Optimal schoolwork times can fluctuate throughout the week, but it’s helpful to plan windows of time where you can jump right in and accomplish the most pressing assignments.
  • Tip 2: Create a study environment that is conducive to your success and comfort. Are you someone who needs absolute silence to concentrate, or do you enjoy the background chatter of a crowded coffee shop? Do you like to work from a laptop while sitting on the couch with a talk show on the television? Do you need to sit at a desk in an office? Find your perfect study space because comfort leads to heightened focus.
  • Tip 3: Schedule assignments with enough time for error correction and waiting for email responses from professors. An assignment might be due on Sunday night, but it’s a good idea to start it days ahead of its due date. Even the simplest of projects can lead to unanticipated questions for clarification. It’s wise to complete assignments days ahead of due dates in case you need to email back and forth with your instructor to solve any problems. Good communication with your instructor about assignment expectations can make a significant difference in your grade.
  • Tip 4: Work alongside a “Study With Me” video on YouTube. Study With Me is a new online trend where students all over the world work on homework while hosting live videos that can be watched by other students. It might sound strange, but it offers a sense of company and community around an activity that can be isolating. Most videos work on a structured work-break schedule. For example, the Pomodoro Technique suggests planned work times, such as 50 minutes of focusing on a specific task, followed by planned break times, such as 10 minutes of a break. You can choose the right work-to-break ratio to meet your preferences.
  • Tip 5: Find a focal point or role model to tune into and stay inspired. The realm of great leaders lies in the future. Consider listening to an inspiring commencement speech on days when the thought of starting another research paper seems dreadful. Research where your degree can take you in your career. Keep up with people who inspire you on social media.

When your online degree program feels tough, know that the work you are doing is worth it. With these five tips, you’ll know what to do when you feel a lull in your motivation. You’ve got this!

American College of Education offers fully online programs that can be completed anywhere, anytime.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of American College of Education.
Kasey Ryman
Kasey Ryman, Ed.D. in Public Health Education

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