Are you a current or prospective college student with a dream?
Sometimes practical life preparations and seizing the day can seem to clash — you aim to earn an education and launch a career, yet you want to travel the world and see new things. Is it possible to do both? Of course!
When it comes to seeing the world while studying, so many options are open to you. If you’re enrolled in college and prefer a physical program, planning to study abroad is an amazing academic travel experience. If you’re more of a free spirit and prefer to live by your own schedule, however, earning an online degree might be the perfect choice.
In 2012, more than 1.8 million students were enrolled exclusively in distance education classes. With online colleges, students can get a degree while traveling the world. Who said you couldn’t have the best of both worlds?
Find a Flexible Online Program
The first step is to find a path that works for you. An online college program will allow you to travel the world without giving up your studies. Look for a degree that fits your interests.
An online program is ideal for travelers because you can often work at your own pace, whether you need a break or want to rush ahead. Flying from Brussels to Paris? Work on your homework the next day, once you get settled in. You can also opt for in-flight Wi-Fi and study as you travel.
Find Places With Wi-Fi
If you want to work on your degree while traveling, reliable Wi-Fi is a must. You’ll need to get online, connect with classmates, watch video lectures, email your professors and much more. Trying to complete an online course without Wi-Fi is like trying to run a marathon on water — impossible.
Most hotels, hostels and apartments come equipped with the right connection. If you can’t find confirmation before you book, call ahead to double-check. If you get stuck without internet access, don’t fret. You can always seek out a cafe, library or another public spot.
Pack the Right Technology
As an online college student — and world traveler — you’ll need a variety of tools at your disposal. Don’t forget to pack them along for your big trip. If you wait to buy in-country, you may end up spending more.
Equipment needed for an online degree program includes:
· A laptop
· A wireless mouse
· A portable hard drive
· Noise-canceling headphones
· A Bluetooth speaker
If you have the right tools in your arsenal, you’ll be able to kick college’s butt — in a good way.
Find Reasonably Priced Programs
Both travel and college cost money. To do both, look for an online degree program that’s reasonably priced. To start, compile a list of all the colleges you are interested in. Research tuition costs, including application fees. Cross off the institutions that are too expensive and add a star next to ones you like.
In the U.S., the average tuition and fees charged at public four-year college are $10,675, though the cost fluctuates based on the region. Online courses are often cheaper, as students don’t have to pay for room and board, only their education.
Balance Study and Travel Time
You have your travel bucket list — the Taj Mahal, the Eiffel Tower, Angkor Wat and Big Ben. How can you see all the best sights and get your schoolwork done? The answer is a balanced study and travel schedule. For example, if you have a big assignment, don’t plan a 22-hour flight on the due date.
You can fill your days with adventures. However, you need to plan your itinerary around your assignments. Are mid-terms coming up? To avoid extra stress, plan to stay in one location for at least two weeks. You’ll have enough time to get your work done and can jet off when you’re finished.
Complete a Relevant Foreign Course
Are you staying in Paris for the summer? Why not take a foreign course and earn credit while you travel? Tons of international opportunities are available to students, even if you don’t speak the native language. Learn about the local cuisine, art, government, history and much more.
Travel itself is an educational experience. You meet interesting people and see new places. You can visit ruins older than America. It’s not a waste to stick to the tourist spots. However, if you enroll in a course, you can get a comprehensive look at what makes a country unique.
Pay Attention to Time Zones
Twenty-four different time zones span across the globe, with 12 in France alone. One of the biggest challenges you’ll have studying abroad is paying attention to the time. For example, say you have an assignment due at midnight. Your school is located in New York, but you’re currently staying in Germany.
Since Germany is six hours ahead of New York, you’ll need to turn in your assignment at 6 p.m. You must stay on top of time differences to avoid missing classes, calls and deadlines. If you need one-on-one support, such as IT assistance or tutoring, you’ll likely need to adjust to their schedule.
Let Your Future Take Off
Are you ready to turn your dreams into reality? You don’t have to put your travels on hold while you go to school — or vice versa. Instead, knock off both bucket list items at once. It’s time to get your degree while traveling — so book your trip to your dream destination today.
About the Author
Alyssa Abel is an education and study abroad blogger with a passion for travel. Follow her @alyssaabelblog on Twitter.