When you enrolled on your undergraduate degree it was probably the focus of your life; getting to class, completing assignments and immersing yourself in university life to ensure you had the best student experience. Second time round is different.

This time you have more life experience; you’ve started your career, you might have a family, or other personal commitments. Studying may not be the sole focus of your life any more, but the experience can be just as rich, particularly if you are studying online. Now all the support you need and answers you are searching for are available 24/7 through the Virtual Learning Environment, and from day one of your course, you will become part of a worldwide community of postgraduate students.

Returning to education and study is an exciting prospect giving you the opportunity to reach new heights in your career. To help you prepare for this next step, we've compiled our top three tips:

1. Get back into academic writing 

Writing assignments requires a different style from how you may be used to writing day-to-day within your job.

Academic writing is formal, research-based and can involve a deep level of critical thinking. You must demonstrate your knowledge of the topic before analysing the evidence and reaching a conclusion.

You must properly reference your work, citing sources to show you have thoroughly researched the subject. The final piece must demonstrate that you've considered the topic in depth,, answered the question you were set – and learnt something valuable from it. 

2. Get organised at home

Our online courses are specifically designed to fit around your current commitments, such as work and family life. Though you are not required to go to a campus to sit in a weekly seminar or lecture theatre, you will be expected to commit 12-15 hours of study per week at home. Therefore you need to ensure you have planned your time in advance to accommodate your new commitment. We also advise students to create a dedicated study-space in their home..

You will also have weekly assignment deadlines to meet, as well as a larger piece to submit at the end of each eight-week unit. Whilst we can’t change the submission deadlines, we will tell you the dates at the beginning of each unit to give you an opportunity to set expectations at home and enlist any additional support you may need during these busy periods. Alternatively, if you know it’s going to be a particularly busy time at work or home, you have the opportunity to work ahead.

3. Get involved in the community

You might be studying your course online, but that doesn’t mean you need to study alone. Whether it's embracing the online student community, engaging with academics or applying your learnings in real-time through your existing job, take every opportunity to get involved and enrich your learning experience.

The University of Bath offers several opportunities for you to collaborate with your peers through the Virtual Learning Environment. With a student community that spans the globe, there is often someone online when you need help with an assignment, have a question or want a different opinion.

The course content also exposes you to a wealth of information - from the engaging video content to the real-life case studies, and our exceptional staff. Make the time to get involved and take advantage of every opportunity to get the most from your course.

Ready, set, go

Returning to education might feel daunting, but the better prepared you are, the quicker your nerves will subside and the sooner you will start to enjoy your studies. Embarking on an online degree will require commitment and hard work, but at the University of Bath we ensure you are fully supported throughout your course, with access to all the tools and resources you need to succeed. 

Discover more about what to expect from our online courses.

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