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How to Earn Your Degree as a Digital Nomad

When you're a digital nomad you can work wherever you want, including in the middle of a cobbled street in the Alps apparently © Matthias Zeitler / Pixabay

The introduction of remote lifestyles is arguably the best thing to have come from the global pandemic. With companies, schools, and individuals realizing that they can maintain their same level of professionalism and responsibility without being tied down by a geographical location, the digital nomad was born. This term refers to an individual who is location independent, and embraces a technology enabled lifestyle that allows them to travel and work or learn from anywhere, if there is available internet. Working professionals have taken advantage of this opportunity in high volumes but the chance to live like this is also available to current college students should they desire.

Enroll Online

Pre-pandemic, there were not many options to earn a degree exclusively online, and you would have been relegated to only certain schools. Now however much of that has changed. There are plenty of colleges that are allowing for hybrid schedules, or even fully virtual programs of study, in addition to those schools who have always been exclusively online. You will still have to dedicate some time on the front end towards researching schools, available online degrees, and associated tuition costs though.

Paying for your education is also not something that is location specific. Taking out a student loan to pay for college is not going to be hinged on the address of your school of choice. If you intend to use one to finance an online degree program, investigate private lenders. You can take out a student loan from a private lender to pay for college with more flexibility than other types of loans allow. This means that potentially some of your borrowed money can be used to fund your nomadic lifestyle as opposed to say traditional on campus room and board.

Being a digital nomad doesn’t mean you can’t have friends © Helena Lopes / Pexels

Find a Friend

The chances that you are the only person in your collegiate peer group considering this lifestyle are quite small. Same as a traditional study abroad program would have group opportunities, consider seeking out like minded classmates who may want to travel with you while you earn your degrees. Finding a friend, or a group, to travel with can also mean reduced living costs, and even study support when needed.

Online learning does eliminate the element of face-to-face classmates, so you may find that you are more motivated to focus on your education as well as your exploring if you have someone in your same boat. Or conversely, maybe you already know that you are best as a solo traveler, and this will be no exception. Having the self-awareness to understand how you best thrive as a traveler is an essential tool for successful nomads.

Over Communicate

If you decide to ditch a permanent address in favor of becoming a student of the world you should still maintain your network of support back home. Be sure that you are constantly communicating with your network about your location, updates on your schooling, and sharing potential challenges you feel you may face. Keeping the lines of communication open as you bop around the globe will give you peace of mind to be able to enjoy your travels while still being a dedicated student.

FYI, an empty beach bar makes the perfect office for a day (or a year) © Peggy Anke / Unsplash

Ditch Tradition

Just because going to college is traditional does not mean that your journey must follow the traditional path. If not being tied down by geography and seeing the world is a true passion, consider breaking up your study timeline to support it. While the fall and spring semesters at most colleges usually offer the most availability as far as courses, there are also summer semesters that you can take advantage of to break up the overall routine.

For example, consider attending college for one semester as a traditional student and making that your top priority, take on as much as you can responsibly handle during this time. Then the following semester you have freedom to take less credit hours from their online offerings and travel wherever you please. Yes, this may take you longer than the assumed four years that most people take to earn their undergrad degree however you will have the benefit of enriching your life through experience while you do it.

Get the Right Equipment

No matter your process or plan, you are assuredly going to need the essentials to be able to see this to fruition. If you decide to become a digital nomad, ‘no internet connection’ and ‘laptop not working’ are probably not going to be acceptable excuses for not completing your coursework. Here are some of the top things that you need to be sure that you always have so you can mitigate any of the challenges that come from a remote lifestyle:

  • Internet connection: This goes without saying, but you should not rely solely on one source. Consider investing in a hotspot so that you can have a backup plan for traditional WIFI.
  • Laptop: Be sure that you invest in something high quality and that supports everything you need to be able to get your coursework done. Durability, long lasting battery life, weight, and portability should all be considered.
  • Headphones: You may want to invest in a set of headphones that are a step above basic. Ones that have Bluetooth capability and are noise cancelling can be especially helpful if you find yourself having to work in locations that you are sharing with other people.

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