Could online education give your career a healthy boost?

The start of any new year is traditionally a time for taking stock and considering change. For many, this involves a commitment to lead a healthier lifestyle. But what about a healthier career? Here too, it’s surprising what a difference a simple review of current work life ‘habits’ and new opportunities can make.

For many, a successful career health check could involve looking to online distance learning for answers.

Almost half of UK employers cite additional qualifications as a fast track route to either pay increase or promotion. Paired with the fact thatone in five employeesrank flexible working as a key way employers could improve their offer, it’s little wonder that both sides for the workplace fence are looking at online distance learning qualifications more seriously than ever before.

The benefits are clear. Employees get the opportunity to learn while they earn (at a significantly lower cost than attending a traditional bricks and mortar university) while developing additional skills to help them advance in their career; employers benefit from upskilled staff who are able to implement their newly attained knowledge in every-day workplace operations.

Increasingly, online distance learning is also being seen as valuable tool inpreparing managers of the futurefor a workplace world where remote management is the norm due to the rapid rise of remote working.

There are also extensive networking benefits. This may seem a surprising thing to say about online distance learning but it reflects that fact that in any one pool of classmates on a particular course or module, multiple businesses, countries and sectors will be represented, providing an added resource of peer to peer learning between students via forums, emails, video conferences etc. In a world where digital professional networking is the norm, this is a benefit that can’t be overlooked.

Advantages such as these, combined with the practical flexibility of online distance learning, that have seen this particular route to education move from the periphery to mainstream academia.

Just last year, Professor G. Anandalingam, Dean of Imperial College Business School highlighted that “fora significant and growing segment of the student population – working professionals that can’t afford to quit their jobs and come into campus for a long period – online learning has been a revelation”.

So, online distance learning has a lot to offer those looking to get ahead in, or even change, their career. But is it the right ‘career boost’ plan for you? Here are some points that might help you decide.

I’d like to study to help with my career but I don’t have the right qualifications to get on the right course?

Are you sure? Many people don’t realise that a wide range of degree, MBA or access courses take into account relevant workplace experience. Practical knowledge gained so far in your career could well make youeligible for a courseyou thought you weren’t qualified for.

I can’t afford to take a career break to study

Online distance learning options mean you don’t have to. You can continue working while gaining the skills needed to take you to the next level.

I know distance learning is less expensive than ‘going to uni’ but I can’t afford to do it without a student loan.

You won’t have to. Part-time online distance learners in England and Wales are now entitled to the same tuition fee loans. You can find more info on thishere.

I don’t really have time to study

Think about the time that you do have available. How much TV do you watch? Do you have a nap on a Sunday afternoon? Could your partner help more with the household chores to free up your time? Do you have a long commute? These all add up and could combine to give you the time you need.

Between 8 and 16 hours per week is typical, although it can be spread over a module – meaning you could work more some weeks and less others.

I like the thought of studying online to advance my career but think I’d need support. Would I really get that online?

Yes. Quality online distance learning courses will always offer extensive support structures and make the most of technology to do it. Virtual ‘face-to-face’ seminars and tutorials, dedicated Q&A session with tutors and student discussion forums are all commonplace for modern courses. Good distance learning providers will also provide dedicated careers support and advice.

Can I start an online distance learning course at any time?

Enrolments run throughout the year for most courses so you aren’t limited to the traditional academic calendar.

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