More and more universities around the world are offering online or hybrid options for Masters degree studies. They range from fully remote study to an on-campus experience in which some instruction takes place online. Students now have more choice than ever and can find a programme that fits their preferences and their life.
Whichever model you select for your studies, there are lots of ways to engage in extracurricular activities. Online or hybrid study does not mean your student life should take a back seat. After all, getting a Masters degree entails much more than learning new information in class. Here is why and how to have a full student experience online.
Active learning with extracurriculars
Experiential learning is crucial in order to master new knowledge and skills. “The best way to learn how to do something is by doing it,” according to Vlerick Business School (Belgium). The French NEOMA Business School also emphasises hands-on projects as part of their e-learning curriculum. And for ESADE Business School (Spain), cultivating a “growth mindset” by exposing students to real-life situations is a top priority. One school in the UK has even pledged to eliminate lectures, arguing that active modes of learning are more valuable for students in today’s fast-changing world.
Experiential learning such as solving business cases or conducting an experiment may or may not be part of your curriculum. In either case, extracurricular activities can boost your real-life skills and confidence. They also offer opportunities to meet new friends and future colleagues. What you do outside of class can give you a well-rounded education and prepare you for life beyond graduate school. And that is fully possible online as well as offline.
Find like-minded peers
Extracurricular activities are inherently social, and the first step is to find your crowd. Do the schools you are considering have clubs you are interested in? Are those clubs active online? You can reach out to universities directly and find out – they will be happy to connect you with current students who can tell you about their activities. It may be a good idea to get in touch with these clubs even before you enrol as a student. Then, once the semester starts, you will already have а potential circle of friends who will be there for you through the ups and downs of your Masters studies.
If you have an activity in mind but no online club is available for it, you can start one yourself. It is as easy as posting in groups on social media or asking classmates. Some people may find it harder to approach a classmate in an online environment. Michelle Krallman, who recently completed an online degree, advises students to not be afraid in an interview with National Public Radio in the US. People may be reluctant to be the first one to reach out, but they would be grateful if you do so, Michelle says. So, if someone reveals in a class discussion that they have an interest you share, do not hesitate to talk to them. You could both benefit from a shared online extracurricular activity.
Take the first step
Once you have a group or partner, navigating online extracurricular activities will be much easier. So, what would you like to do? One option is to focus on a creative hobby. You can play music or sing in an online choir. Painting, knitting, or writing and publishing a blog are other options.
You may be reluctant to pursue an interest different from your studies while doing your Masters. Of course, the degree is your priority. But taking a little time each week to do something you enjoy can make you happier as well as more productive in your studies. The company LinkedIn is famous for giving employees time to learn any skill they wish or work on a personal project, because that increases their motivation and performance. Your hobbies can enrich your studies in unexpected ways, and going to graduate school online does not mean you should leave them by the wayside. Why not join an online student group and get creative?
Train or practise a sport
Whether you are a competitive athlete, a yoga enthusiast, or a casual runner, chances are your university has a club for you that you can join online. Maintaining physical activity during your online studies will keep you in good health and enable you to make the most of your programme.
If you prefer a smaller group, look for others who share your favourite sport and schedule a time to do it together remotely. Your peers can help keep you on track and encourage you in both your training and your studies.
Your university may also be offering online training sessions through their gym or physical education department. Why not break up your remote learning routine and try something entirely new, like martial arts or modern dance?
Mentor and support others
One extracurricular activity you can easily do online is tutoring younger students or providing support to people from marginalised groups. If you have a passion for helping others, there are countless organisations that could use your help.
You could coach a high school student who is struggling to keep up with their maths classes, for example, or teach English or another language to refugees. Every university has student humanitarian organisations that will be able to point you towards ways you can help.
Working for a cause you care about will help you feel focused and grounded, as well as developing skills such as communication and teamwork. If you would like to work in the non-profit sector after graduation, this can also lead to a future career. The world has never been in greater need of social innovation and mutual support – you can identify your core values and, with the help of technology, work on making them a reality.
Read more: How to Make the Most of Graduate School
Fundraise or start a venture
If you are feeling ready to make an impact in the world, you do not have to wait until you graduate from your Masters degree. You can band together with classmates who share your passions and have skills complementing your own. Why not try to fundraise for a cause, or start an organisation working for a goal you care deeply about? There is no better way to learn than by putting your skills to the test in your own business or non-profit venture.
Extracurricular engagement helps you grow and develop, whatever the learning format – immersive on-campus studies, blended, or online. Hone your talents, work on your passions, and get to know peers who may be your future colleagues or even business partners. All it takes is making that first step and reaching out. Your classmates and your university’s online student clubs will be happy to hear from you.