Tag Archives: online degree

How Do I Manage My Time with an Online Education?

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



Earning a College Degree in an Online World – Part II

So you’ve decided that the online degree route is the way to go. You’ve done your research – including reading my last blog post –  and want to start your journey to higher education. What comes next?

The first thing you want to do is decide which school has the online program that best fits in your schedule. Check out the following website http://www.guidetoonlineschools.com/online-reviews to get some background information on the various schools that have online programs. This site offers reviews from students, information on graduate and retention rates of students and costs associated with a typical academic year. Don’t commit yourself to one school; contact as many as you’d like to get an idea of what a class is like; length, work involved, etc., so you will know if you can devote the time needed to complete your degree. You can tell a lot about the school when speaking with the enrollment advisor so use this initial conversation in making your decision; i.e., their tone of voice, how they answer your questions, knowledge, etc. In addition, many of the advisors are taking classes themselves so they can provide some valuable information. Take advantage of it! Some of the questions you may want to ask during your initial phone call – in no particular order – are:

1. What is the length of each class? The answer to this question really depends on the college and the degree you are pursuing. If you are earning a Bachelor’s degree, most universities offer classes that are five weeks in length; six weeks if earning a Master’s Degree. However, some colleges, like Kaplan University utilize a 10-week class for their Bachelor’s Degree and six weeks for a Master’s.

2. What are the attendance and participation requirements? Every online degree program has this requirement and this is perhaps one of the most important questions you will ask. As I said in my previous post, you will be given discussion questions each week (more detail on that later), and you will be required to respond to a specific number of your classmates each week. Again, the number of responses depends on the university and program. For example, University of Phoenix requires four responses to classmates on four different days; whereas others such as Ashford and Kaplan require only two responses, whether they occur on the same day or not.

3. What is a typical class week like? Again, a very important question as it is a good indicator of the time you will need to set aside each week. Based on my experience, an academic week consists of two-three discussion questions, usually due mid-week and a research paper and/or quiz that are due on the last day of the week. And don’t forget that participation requirement! You will also be spending time reviewing your classmates’ postings and responding to them.

4. Can I test-drive the online classroom? Some colleges will allow you to logon as a guest to get a feel for the online classroom and how to navigate from place to place within the online environment. If this is an option, definitely take advantage of it because it will give you insight as to which sites are user friendly and which required an engineering degree to navigate! (Believe me, some do!)

5. Is there a trial period for the degree program? Since online education has become more popular, many colleges are now offering an introductory period, anywhere from a few weeks to a month, depending on the university. During this time, you will take your classes as scheduled, but if at any time during the trial period you feel this venue is not right for you, you can withdraw from the school without owing anything. When I started in the online degree world 10 years ago, they didn’t have this option, but for those new to the college world, especially older students, it is an invaluable resource.

6. How involved can I be in the scheduling of my classes? Unfortunately, there are some academic advisors out there that schedule classes for you at random without consulting you. Ask questions, find out how many credits of history, math, social sciences, etc., are needed and look at the course catalog to see what classes will fit the requirements of you degree. You will have core classes which are not negotiable, but other classes as part of your degree program can be chosen. For example, if your degree requires an extra social science and you are interested in psychology or philosophy, find out if the school has a class that can count towards that credit. You are working hard for your degree; you want to be a part of the road you are taking to get there!

7. What is the tuition and fee structure? Each school has their own method for calculating tuition depending on the degree program; however, make sure you ask about their technology fee. Every online school has one ranging from $75.00 to $150.00; charged every semester or by class, depending on the school. Make sure to ask about the financial aid process as well as information about any grants or scholarships. Even if it’s only $100, trust me, every little bit helps!

The online process is much less complicated than it seems and if you’re like me and get antsy and frustrated in a traditional classroom, then this venue is for you.


Coming up next….How Do I Manage My Time??