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6 real-life, practical tips for making online study work

27 Nov 2020

From finding time to finding your tribe, six online Charles Darwin University students share their insider tips on how to make an online degree work for your life and goals. Charles Darwin University is a national leader in delivering online degrees. In fact, more than 70% of their students study online from across Australia.

Aim for progress, not perfection

Genevieve studied an online social work degree at CDU while juggling a small business and two young children. The secret? Keep perspective.

‘At the beginning of my degree I pushed myself very hard – I’d stay up every night studying, I was exhausted and started to burn out. Now I have made the conscious effort to engage in self-care, whether that’s simply exercising a few times a week, eating well or reading a book. Taking some time out for myself during the semester has been essential for me. Something I now embrace is to aim for progress, not perfection.’

Read Genevieve’s story

Lean on lecturers and support services

Margaret did an online law degree at CDU with two toddlers. Impressive, right? She’s the first to admit she was ‘sceptical at first about studying online, but from that very first lecture I logged into, all my fears were allayed.’

‘I formed excellent relationships with most of my lecturers and always found them accessible by email or phone. And the standard of the lecturers has been incredible. Staff at the library were also always available to help, even at the last minute. The ability to borrow books whilst living interstate was also an excellent resource.’

Read Margaret’s story

Study space set up: You do you

For single mum Sharni, sleepy toddler and study space often become one as she works through her online nursing degree at CDU. ‘It’s often easier to work in bed when my son’s asleep on me. But it’s not uncommon for him to be doing cartwheels while I’m doing an assessment and there’s definitely been some ice cream bribes to keep him quiet!’

Read Sharni’s story

Pro-cyclist Jacob

For Jacob, a pro-cyclist and online exercise and sports science student at CDU, anywhere and everywhere is a study space. ‘I have to make time whenever I can to be able to study – whether that’s at the cycling track in between sessions or at home while everyone sleeping. It makes things so much easier to have access to all your units whenever, and no pressure to attend classes at exact times.’

Read Jacob’s story

Believe you can do it

Mel had her heart set on changing careers and online IT degree with CDU to make it happen.

‘You may feel intimidated. You may feel as though you don't possess enough hands-on skills and experience to be successful or even just to be hired when you graduate. I struggled with these feelings for a long time. Then I realised that employers are actually looking for motivated individuals with a willingness to learn.’

Read Mel’s story

Adjust as you go

Sallie and her happy family

Sallie did an online teaching degree at CDU to change careers, and adjusted her study tactics as her degree progressed.

‘In the beginning I took on a full-time study load, which meant studying all night, every night, just to keep up. I ended up rundown and not seeing enough of my family. I decided to cut back to part-time study, which has been a lot more manageable.

‘I try to do all my study on weeknights, so I can spend weekends with the family. It doesn't always happen that way, but I'm lucky to have a very supportive husband and family who make life a little easier.’

Read Sallie’s story

Make small lifestyle tweaks to find time

Nurse Paramjit

Paramjit studied an online nursing degree at CDU part-time while working full-time. She knows a few lifestyle adjustments bought her valuable pockets of study time.

‘I have managed to balance my nursing degree with full-time work commitments by reducing my after-work socialising during semester times, having a plan for personal commitments, using travel time to work for listening to lectures or weekly readings instead of listening to music, and having designated study time every week – rather than leaving it to the end of semester.’

Read Paramjit’s story

Charles Darwin University has delivered online and distance education for more than 30 years, so they know how to support you from afar. Explore CDU’s online study experience and more than 100 online degrees.

This article is sponsored by Charles Darwin University.