Adjusting to studying online is no easy task, especially if you’re used to a traditional classroom setting. But once you find your rhythm, you’ll realize that no traditional classroom can match the flexibility, convenience, and accessibility of online learning.
To help ease your success, Rosario Maccarrone, the Head of Student Services at the Open Institute of Technology, has compiled a detailed list of dos and don’ts of studying online. Stick to these guidelines, and you’ll excel at your studies as a full-time student or a working professional.
The Dos and Don’ts of Studying Online for Full-Time Students
Let’s say you’ve decided to commit to full-time online studies. Here’s what Rosario suggests for academic success.
1. Find a Study Rhythm That Works for You
The best thing about studying online is that no one’s around to dictate your study schedule. It’s up to you to set your own learning pace and study hours. Find a steady study rhythm that aligns with your preferences, and your productivity will never falter.
2. Make a Schedule
Don’t get it twisted – a lack of a fixed class schedule doesn’t mean you should go without a schedule entirely. Keeping a schedule will help you stay organized, focused, and on track with your studies, which can be challenging when no one guides your daily routine. Your schedule should allocate time for classes (OPIT offers one live class per week for each course), revising, and, of course, taking it easy.
3. Keep a To-Do List
Just like a schedule, a to-do list can help you always stay on top of your game. Make it digital, and you can easily update it as you study or complete tasks on your computer.
4. Don’t Be Shy to Ask Questions
It’s perfectly OK to struggle with some parts of your online courses. However, it’s not OK to keep this to yourself out of shame or fear and struggle in silence. Your professors and tutors are there for you to guide you every step of the way. Remember this, and you’ll have no trouble asking questions when things get tricky.
5. Use All the Online Resources Your Program Offers
Just like your professors are there for you, so are the abundant online resources your university offers. Do a little research to get familiar with these resources and then make the most of them.
6. Collaborate With Your Classmates
You might not be able to see your peers in person, but you can—and should—communicate with them in a myriad of ways. Rosario suggests participating in chats during live sessions and taking advantage of every chance for group work. This will help you build a solid online community and nail your studies.
7. Join in on Online Campus Events
Studying is never just about learning. It’s also about meeting new people, making friends, and building a network. Online studying is no different; you’ll just do all of these incredible things online. So, make sure to keep up with your university’s virtual campus events and attend them to keep your studies (and life) more interesting.
8. Make a Study Spot
Let’s not sugarcoat it – learning from home often comes with a bunch of distractions. From your family talking in the background to the allure of your comfy bed, distractions are plenty. By making a designated study spot somewhere quiet, you’ll rid your study environment of disruptions and signal to your brain that it’s time to get down to work.
9. Take Care of Your Health
Taking care of your health is essential for excelling in all areas of life, and (online) studying is no different. So, remember to eat well, exercise, and get enough sleep to stay sharp. Exercising (or just moving continuously) is especially important given the nature of online studies.
Telling you not to procrastinate when studying is by no means revolutionary advice. However, avoiding procrastination can be extra challenging when studying online, given the lack of immediate supervision.
But putting off practice and leaving studying to the last second can only increase your anxiety levels and lead to lower grades (none of which will help you have a successful online studying experience).
2. Underestimate the Effort Online Classes Need
Some students operate under the assumption that online classes are less demanding than traditional ones. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Treating online classes with the same seriousness as in-person ones is the only way to succeed in your virtual academic journey.
3. Cut Yourself Off From Classmates and Professors
Online studying can feel rather isolating. That is – only if you let it. Online universities like OPIT offer numerous ways to stay in touch with your classmates and professors (e.g., Slack, Canvas discussions, and WhatsApp groups), and that’s precisely what you should do.
4. Hold Back From Asking for Help
This guide has already covered the importance of asking your professors questions. But if you feel stuck, don’t limit yourself to professors only. At OPIT, you can also ask your class coordinator or a tutor for help with anything course-related.
5. Neglect Taking Time Out for Yourself
Some students underestimate the effort necessary for online classes. At the same time, others go all out when presented with the seemingly endless possibilities of online learning. If you fall under the second category, don’t forget to take time out for yourself. This is as important as studying efficiently, as it allows you to prevent burnout.
6. Ignore Your Mental Health
Your mental health is just as important as your physical well-being. If you struggle emotionally, you should never ignore it. Your friends, family, or your university’s counseling services can help you find the best way forward. But first, you need to ask for help.
7. Miss Out on Making Connections With Peers
The beauty of online studying is the opportunity to meet new people from all over the world. OPIT alone has students from over 40 countries worldwide. Connect with them, and you’ll broaden your perspective while potentially forming meaningful connections.
Of course, you should also enjoy face-to-face interactions whenever possible.
The Dos and Don’ts of Studying Online for Working Students
Thanks to online studies, it’s never too late to go back to school. You can do so even after working for a few years, as this format allows you to pursue a new career path or enhance your skills while still earning an income.
Of course, you can also choose to work and study at the same time immediately after graduating from high school.
Whatever the case, here’s what Rosario suggests doing (and not doing).
1. Balance Your Work and Study Time
When you have both work and studies, you must allocate your time wisely. Creating a realistic schedule that you can keep up with daily is step one.
2. Talk to Your Boss About Supporting Your Study Goals
Most bosses are highly supportive of their employees’ professional development. After all, your personal growth can only positively reflect on your company. So, don’t be afraid to talk to your boss about your studies.
With some luck, you’ll be able to schedule shifts around your classes, take days off for studying (or taking exams), and even study at work during downtime.
3. Strive for Flexibility at Work
If there’s one thing the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us, it’s that most jobs can be done from home (and done successfully). So, if possible, switch to working from home, as this will save you a lot of time. Just think of it this way – no more getting ready and commuting to and from work.
4. Connect With Colleagues in Similar Situations
Balancing work and studies can sometimes feel overwhelming. Connect with colleagues who are also going through the same thing (or did in the past), and you’ll get all the encouragement you need to keep pushing forward.
5. Grab Chances to Build Skills for Work and School
Let’s face it – most people study to be able to find a decent job. If you’re already working in your desired field – perfect! Seize every chance to apply your practical skills in your studies. Even if you aren’t currently working in your desired field, there are always skills you can learn to benefit your studies and current (and future) career.
6. Set Realistic Study Goals
Doing (or trying to do) too much can bring you no good. So, set realistic study goals that align with your work life. For instance, studying for three hours a day will be a Herculean task when working overtime but a breeze on your day off.
7. Talk to Your Professors
Just like you should let your boss know you’re studying, you should also inform your professors that you’re working. This way, they might be able to make some accommodations for you if your work is squeezing your study time.
8. Keep Your Study Area Separate
Let’s say you work from home. If so, make sure you have separate “work” and “study” areas. This will help you maintain a clear boundary between your professional and academic responsibilities.
9. Find Ways to Manage Stress
Juggling work and studying can be rather stressful. Finding a way (or ways) to manage this stress is critical to successfully keeping up with both responsibilities. Meditating, exercising, taking a walk, spending more time with friends, or taking up a hobby are just some of the methods that might work for you.
Taking regular breaks is also an excellent way to manage stress as well as remain focused on your work or studies.
1. Let School Stress Affect Your Work Performance
If you’re already working in your dream field, remember that studying is only there to enhance your skills and knowledge. In other words, don’t let academic stress affect your work performance, as this can only jeopardize your future in your dream career. It’s all about prioritizing correctly.
2. Sacrifice Sleep or Good Health Habits
Juggling work and studies is no excuse to fall into bad health habits, including sacrificing sleep. Not only will this affect you physically and mentally, but it will also affect your performance in both fields. Talk about a lose-lose scenario!
3. Be Afraid to Ask for Help
Your support network is all you need to navigate any challenge effortlessly. And with both working and studies, you know you’ll have no shortage of those. So, don’t be afraid to ask for help from the people around you, whether to simply listen to you vent or help with a specific task.
4. Let Your Studies Take Over Your Personal Time
For most people, off time is a chance to rest and recharge. However, for students, a part of this time must be dedicated to studying. But the key word here is “part.” Don’t let your studies consume all of your personal time, as this is a one-way ticket to burnout.
5. Miss Out on Networking in Your Field
If there’s one piece of advice every university (online or offline) will give you, it is network, network, network. If you’re already working in your field, you’re in a unique position to do this even before completing your studies. So, take every chance to meet new people and open up new doors for your career.
6. Neglect Seeking Mutual Work-Study Benefits
Your job and studies can likely benefit each other in more ways than one. By neglecting to explore these avenues, you might miss out on valuable opportunities.
For instance, let’s say you’re getting your Bachelor’s degree in Digital Business from OPIT and working in social media management. Modules like “Digital Marketing” and “Digital Platforms and Ecosystems” could directly contribute to your role (and a promotion). At the same time, your practical experience will help you breeze through most of the course material.
This is just one of the ways your studies can open new doors at your work.
7. Overcommit Socially
Your time is precious. As much as it’s important not to use it solely for work and studying, it’s also crucial to not overcommit socially. Talk to your friends and family (especially those with no similar experiences) and set realistic expectations about your availability. Prioritize quality over quantity in your social interactions, and you’ll never feel like you’re missing out.
The Biggest Do: Study at OPIT
As you’ll learn from this list, everyone at OPIT knows what our students need to succeed on and off campus. And everyone at OPIT, from Rosario to your professors, is more than eager to support you in this journey. Apply to study at OPIT and experience what quality studies, academic assistance, and career guidance can do for you firsthand.
In this unite.ai article, Riccardo Ocleppo, Founder & Director of the Open Institute of Technology (OPIT), leverages his experience from Docsity to revolutionize higher education. OPIT aims to innovate and modernize education by offering high-quality tech degrees at an affordable price. It prioritizes hands-on learning to bridge the theory-practice gap and fosters diverse skill sets and networking opportunities.
Discover OPIT’s innovative approach, which includes embedding AI across all its degree programs, in the full article at unite.ai: https://www.unite.ai/riccardo-ocleppo-founder-director-of-opit-interview-series/
The Open Institute of Technology (OPIT) is a unique institution through and through. From an unparalleled support team that guides you every step of the way to state-of-the-art virtual resources, OPIT redefines online learning. This institution also proves that online education can be as enriching as its traditional counterpart. Better yet, it can outperform it in numerous aspects.
This fact alone begs the question – how did it all begin?
To answer this question, we’ll go straight to the source – the founder of OPIT, Riccardo Ocleppo.
In this article, Riccardo will walk us through his journey of envisioning (and building) OPIT and transforming online education in the process.
The Pre-OPIT Years: Where It All Began
To understand how Riccardo came up with the idea for OPIT, we must travel back to the year 2006. That’s when Riccardo graduated from Politecnico di Torino with a bachelor’s in electronics engineering.
This institution is arguably the most prestigious in Italy (and one of the most reputable in Europe). So, it shouldn’t be surprising that Riccardo chose to continue his education here, pursuing a master’s degree.
He completed the master’s program in 2008 and did so with honors.
Yet, Riccardo couldn’t shake the impression that it was all in vain. In his words, “When I left the university, I had the impression that I could do very little, and I knew very little that could help me in my professional endeavors.”
But Riccardo decided not to sit idly by.
He saw it this way – it might be too late for him, as he was done with his studies. But it’s certainly not too late for future students who deserve a better education. That’s why, only two years later, in 2010, he founded Docsity.
Docsity is an online social learning network with over 20 million registered students. Thanks to this network, over 250 universities worldwide received help in improving their study programs (and finding students).
Docsity also gave Riccardo a chance to fully immerse himself into the education sector for over a decade, finding new ways to reform it from within.
OPIT’s Inception: From Vision to Reality
With the knowledge (and the resources) from Docsity, Riccardo started working on a platform designed to provide the kind of education he wished he had received. The platform in question was, of course, the Open Institute of Technology.
The primary goal of OPIT was to bridge the gap between “what students expect, what companies need, and what higher-level institutions actually deliver in terms of training and education.”
From Riccardo’s experience, this gap was pretty huge. Remember that even with a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in electronics engineering, he felt he had little to offer to companies.
This perceived shortcoming primarily comes from the fact he received a lot of theory at the university but very little practice. And that’s not to mention how outdated the curriculum was, as well as laser-focused on electronics engineering. In other words, bid farewell to “competencies on the most recent technologies and project management methodologies.”
This perspective made him determined to create a holistic educational solution. Or, as Riccardo puts it, “When designing OPIT’s degree programs to address the skills in high demand today, we chose to start from scratch to go beyond the limits of traditional higher education.”
At OPIT, you’ll receive valuable knowledge beyond theory. Essentially, OPIT equips you with everything you need to enter the job market, ready to excel in your field from day one (or day zero, as Riccardo calls it!).
Tailored for Triumph: OPIT’s Unique Programs
Designing any online curriculum is no easy task. However, the computer science field comes with its unique set of challenges. Why?
This field is constantly evolving. That’s what makes it difficult for most traditional higher education institutions to keep up. As Riccardo puts it, “[These institutions] are very slow to adapt to this wave of new technologies and new trends within the educational sector.” Of course, thanks to Docsity, Riccardo speaks from extensive experience, as he’s seen “multiple times how difficult it is to help these institutions update their study curriculum.”
Companies have it no easier.
Riccardo says, “A company needs one to two years to make people that should be trained on today’s technologies and on today’s skills effectively enter the job market and be productive when they enter these companies.”
Again, Riccardo speaks from personal experience. As a founder of a tech company (and a manager in others), he was tasked with creating and managing big tech teams on several occasions. However, despite interviewing hundreds of candidates, he couldn’t find those trained in today’s technologies, not those from 20 years ago.
With this in mind, he designed OPIT’s curriculum to effectively “train the next generation of leaders and managers in the field of computer science.” Many people helped him in this endeavor, chief among them Professor Francesco Profumo, current head of institution at OPIT and former Minister of Education in Italy.
This unique approach makes OPIT’s programs different in terms of how they’ve been conceived and how they’ll be delivered.
Take the Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Modern Computer Science program as an example.
Riccardo says that to be a great programmer, “you cannot just dive into programming itself.” First, you must understand how a computer is built and how its various units operate and communicate. This way, you’ll have no issues debugging a code in the future since you’ll understand the underlying mechanisms.
These underlying systems and foundational skills are precisely what is taught during the first term of the modern computer science program. Afterward, you’ll move toward the latest advancements in computer science, including machine learning, artificial intelligence, data science, cybersecurity, and cloud computing. This way, you’ll have quite a broad perspective on computer science, rarely seen in other educational programs, online or offline.
It also means you won’t have to specialize in a particular field, as you’re forced to do with many other programs. In Riccardo’s opinion, the master’s degree is where you should begin your specialization journey.
OPIT offers as many as four master’s degree programs, but Riccardo focuses on Applied Data Science & AI this time.
In Riccardo’s words, “The whole purpose of this [program] is actually to train people that do not want to pursue a super technical career but actually want to pursue a career at the intersection between the tech and the management of a company.” In other words, individuals who complete this program will acquire all the necessary tech skills. However, they’ll also be able to ensure the tech team is “correctly understood by the management of the company,” thanks to the managerial skills earned during the program.
Of course, this program also covers all the essential theoretical knowledge, from Python to machine learning. But it also has a solid applicative angle, teaching students how to use the most valuable tools available in today’s market. Simply put, you’re training “for what you’ll be doing when you enter your next job.”
Breaking the Mold: What Sets OPIT Apart
The unique curriculum isn’t the only thing that sets OPIT apart from other higher education institutions in the same field. Here’s what Riccardo singles out as OPIT’s most appealing characteristics.
Learning at your own pace can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you have all the flexibility and freedom to organize your studies (and life). On the other, you might start procrastinating without a traditional daily commitment of in-classroom learning.
OPIT ensures this unfortunate scenario never happens by doing away with one big final exam you must cram for. Instead, you’ll be continuously assessed throughout the program, allowing you a much better approach to learning and a deeper understanding of the subject matter.
As Riccardo puts it, OPIT will give you “multiple checkpoints,” preventing you from getting “lost” throughout the learning process.
New Learning Resources
According to Riccardo, most of today’s available resources were created for the “oldest wave of education.” That’s why he (and his team) created all OPIT resources and learning materials from scratch, giving you a fresh perspective on the tech world. These resources also come in the form of engaging videos, which are short enough to keep you fully focused yet detailed enough to provide a deep understanding of the topic.
Let’s not sugarcoat it – modern resources mean nothing if the professors teaching them still stick to old-school principles and approaches. Luckily, this isn’t the case with OPIT’s faculty.
Every member of this faculty has been carefully selected based on their academic expertise, business experience, and global perspective. These professors aim to “help you learn in a more engaging and interesting way,” as Riccardo puts it.
He also adds that OPIT’s faculty breaks away from the common saying in academics, “Those who can’t do, teach.” In his words, “We didn’t want to have people that can teach because they cannot do,” so that’s the standard he prioritized when bringing people on board.
Future-Proof Your Career
Now that you know the fascinating tale of OPIT’s conception, all that’s left to do is to get in touch with our team of experts and take the first step in future-proofing your career. As you’ve already seen, OPIT will take care of most of the subsequent steps. All you need is a desire to learn and an interest in developing new skills, and success is imminent.