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With Universities Moving Online, is a Degree Still Worth the Effort?


The coronavirus pandemic has made some serious changes to the way that we live, and for students planning on heading to university this September, it means an entirely different student experience to what was expected. With social distancing measures in place, it’s unlikely that fresher’s week will be going ahead as normal, and many students are expected to be starting their degree online, rather than in lecture halls and classrooms.

With so many changes to the university experience in 2020, you might be wondering if it’s still worth going ahead with your degree this year, or if there are any other options available. Studying online is still most definitely worth your time and effort, but many students are disheartened about the lack of socialisation and being able to fully immerse themselves in the experience.


Deferring for a Year

If you’ve already got a university place and are set to start studying online this September, it might be worth considering the option of deferring your course start date for a year. By September 2021, things will have hopefully gotten back to normal and you will be able to enjoy the university experience in all its glory. This might be an ideal option if socialising and making new friends at university is important to you. And, you can always spend your year wisely by working, travelling, and improving your skills for future employment. In fact, it might help to set you apart from the crowd once you eventually graduate, since you will have the experience that many graduates who attended university straight from college will not have.


Choosing the Right University

If you’re in the process of applying to university or choosing where you would like to study, you’ve got another factor to consider - how well do they deliver their courses online? Many universities have found themselves in a position that they were not prepared for, and are struggling to support students who are learning online due to a lack of experience with it. Check out University Compare to find undergraduate courses offered by universities that are experienced with online learning. The last thing that you need as you transition to studying online is a university that doesn’t have the right resources or facilities to accommodate you, so you might want to opt for an undergraduate course that was offered as an online option before the pandemic.


Student Accommodation

While the guidelines are to stay at home where you can and university courses are being offered online, you might want to stay at home where you are and start studying without moving away in your first year, in order to save money. However, bear in mind that if you are not living in student accommodation then you might not be entitled to as much student finance compared to if you had moved, so it’s worth considering which is the best option for you financially. If you can continue living with your parents while you study for your first year, this might be easier to deal with practically and emotionally since you can remain in a place you are comfortable and familiar with.


Study Help

Transitioning to studying online can be difficult if you are not used to it, but if you’ve decided to go ahead and start your degree online this year, there are plenty of options available to you for support. Many universities have set up dedicated student support teams to help students get started with learning online, and depending on your income and personal situation, you might be entitled to get free or reduced technology to make learning from home easier for you. Don’t forget to sign up to student discount sites like the NUS card and Unidays too, since you’ll be able to get what you need at a reduced price from various retailers.


Setting Up a Study Space

Whether you have decided to move into student accommodation or stay at home for your first year of studying for your degree online, bear in mind that you might have less physical access to resources such as the university library, computer areas and other study spaces. Because of this, it’s essential that you set up space in your home or accommodation that is designed to help you focus on what you need to do. If you don’t already have a desk and chair, now’s the best time to invest in one as you’re going to be spending a lot of time there from September onwards. Avoid working from your bed or sofa because while it’s tempting, it can also be a real breeding ground for procrastination. Getting prepared as early as possible, getting yourself in the mindset for online study and coming up with a schedule that you can stick to is essential for success when starting your degree online.

COVID-19 means that this year, the university experience is not the same - but it’s still worth studying for your degree online if you don’t want to delay.


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