How many times have you said, “There just aren’t enough hours in the day?” And now you want to add the responsibility of obtaining a degree online to your already overwhelming life? Are you nuts? No, not really, because in fact it CAN be done with the right guidance, the right schedule and of course, the right attitude. Today’s post in my series of Earning an Online Degree will focus on the logistics of a typical classroom week and how to make it through each class with minimal frustration and anxiety. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll experience this from time to time, but my goal here is to share with you several tips I have learned over the years while earning my own online degrees. Please note, each class and school is different and the tips presented here may need to be altered to fit your school’s specific time requirement.
As stated in my previous posts, the length of each class depends on the college you choose; however, for purposes of discussion, let us assume that the classes in your chosen course of study are five weeks in length. Various colleges follow their own seven day schedule; i.e., not necessarily Sunday through Saturday, so for arguments’ sake, our “mock class” will adhere to the following schedule:
- Tuesday = Day 1
- Wednesday = Day 2
- Thursday = Day 3
- Friday = Day 4
- Saturday = Day 5
- Sunday = Day 6
- Monday = Day 7
During the first week of class, you will be required to post an introduction on Day 1, which should include a little bit about yourself, family, why you are pursuing your degree, etc. Some professors will require the introduction be tailored to their specific class, but this will be outlined in the syllabus.
The remainder of the first week as well as the weeks to come should resemble the following schedule. The time of day that you conduct each task is totally up to you, but some part of each day should be focused on your schoolwork. There will be a major assignment due in the final week of class; therefore, it is important to begin working on your research during Week Two or Three.
- Day 1 – Introduction due (first week only)/Review Assigned Readings/Work on Discussion Questions
- Day 2 – Work on Discussion Questions
- Day 3 – Discussion Questions due
- Day 4 – Begin Research for weekly paper
- Day 5 – Respond to classmates’ postings
- Day 6 – Prepare weekly paper/ respond to classmates’ postings
- Day 7 – Review and turn in weekly paper – RELAX and get ready for the coming week.
This may seem like a lot but once you get yourself set on a schedule, it will seem like second nature. Your schedule is your own; therefore you must judge how much you can do and when. It is a learning process and circumstances may change from week to week; however, here are some things I found that have worked for me:
- If you have a full-time job, use your lunch hours to your advantage. Review assigned readings, work on discussion questions and conduct any research you may need for questions or assignments.
- Once your assignments are turned in for the current week, start to prepare for the coming week. Look at the questions and the assignment due and think about how to attack them.
- Use a flash drive or online cloud for storage of all of your class materials including articles used for research and assignments. As you work towards your degree, you will refer to your previous coursework in each class. Some of the research you have already conducted may be useful for a future paper.
- Get as much done on the weekend as possible – I know, this is not very popular, as we have families and other responsibilities that demand our time but every little bit helps. For example, getting up early on either Saturday or Sunday morning to begin work on your assignment is a great way to have some quiet time to concentrate. Your schedule is your own; therefore you must judge how much you can do and when.
- Take at least one day and night off from schoolwork! Believe it or not, you can’t do it all, and giving yourself time to breathe and refocus is essential to succeeding. You do not want to get burned out.
- Take a break from classes if you need to. If you find yourself completely overwhelmed, talk to your advisor and ask for a week or two off before your next class starts. They will understand and work to accommodate you any way they can. However, if you are receiving financial aid, be aware that you are only allowed to be unenrolled from classes for a specific number of days; otherwise your financial aid will be off track and could cause potential financing problems in the future. Make sure to verify specifics with your advisor at your chosen school before you decide to take a break.
With my Master’s Degree in Organizational Management completed on October 13th – 3.92 GPA!! I will begin a new Master’s Degree in Education on the 28th of this month as I work to teach others in the online world at some point in the future. Some of my friends think I’m crazy, my BFF told me I could make a living at being in college, and mom – bless her heart – told me I “didn’t need any more brains.” But I enjoy the learning process and am grateful for all that I have been taught over the past years, not just scholastically but emotionally as well. If you decide to further your education, I wish you much success and luck.
Follow my upcoming blog posts as I continue my journey with my upcoming Master’s Degree! Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions about the process or if I can be of any help to you!
Coming up next…Stinkerbell starts her Master’s in Education