Today, it is almost necessary to have a college degree if you want to be successful in the work force. And though the process of earning a degree will require effort on your part, there are ways of managing the degree-earning process to make it easier on you and your schedule. By managing your time wisely, knowing what your expectations are, and studying efficiently, you can do your studies, earn a college degree, and still have fun! Here are 5 tips to getting your college degree:

College Selection: Traditional vs. Online Programs

While it used to be normal for students to graduate with a high school diploma and immediately enroll in a traditional four-year college, the education culture is shifting more to meet the needs of adult students. When selecting a college, make sure that it is something you can afford. In-state tuition is always cheaper than out-of-state. If you can establish residency somewhere before beginning school, this can save you thousands of dollars and potentially earn you thousands more if you work during the time you establish your residency.

Decide if you want to do online college versus the traditional college experience. Many fresh-out-of-high-school graduates choose the traditional college experience for a multitude of reasons. Many returning adults, however, choose more online routes for their degrees. Especially in circumstances of graduate degrees, online master’s degree programs are typically more popular for returning adults. Recent years have also shown online education programs have been increasing in scope, complexity, availability, and recognition.

Get Free Money

Are you an undergraduate college student? Apply to FAFSA for Federal Pell Grants. Apply for scholarships and fellowships. There are scholarships based on athletics, academic ability, race, nationality, religious affiliation, geographic location, and more. Apply for federal grants, such as the Federal Supplement Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) and the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant.

Plan your Schedule

Find courses that interest you. The more interested you are in the course, the easier it will be to learn it. Take some “fun” courses!

Prioritize double-duty courses. Find courses that can serve two degree requirements if possible. It might decrease the total number of courses needed to graduate, which will save you time and money.

Study for placement tests. Don’t flunk your placement tests. This is one of the easiest ways to skip right past easier courses that you’ve already completed an equivalent of elsewhere.

Manage your Time Wisely

Use your calendar. Save important events in your phone’s calendar app or a planner to see you future obligations. Good for future planning and daily planning!

Do harder tasks earlier in the day. Accomplishing your harder tasks first allows you to work more quickly and retain information more easily.

Avoid procrastination. It leads to more stress and less free time. You’ll feel calmer and more relaxed and will be able to do more of the things you want to do.

Reward yourself. Reward yourself when you accomplish a major project or assignment. It keeps you motivated, and will make the process of earning a degree seem like less work.

Study Effectively

Study in a comfortable, well-lit, quiet space. You want an environment with little distracting stimuli.

Take good notes. Work on the front end makes work on the back end easier.

Back up your work. Never forget to backup your work.

Whether you’re a returning adult student looking into online master’s degree programs or an incoming high school graduate, you can get your college degree in your leisure time. By planning your schedule, time management, and effective study, college can be fun and achievable!