Balancing Life, Work and School with On-line Education
Though subject to much controversy, the fact is that on-line education has helped many busy adults finish their bachelor degrees and even achieve degrees at the masters and doctorate levels. It is important to realize what makes it possible for working people and adults with children and other family responsibilities is the convenience and flexibility, not the ease.
When selecting an on-line school one should be aware there are “degree mills” out there that do not have the quality of your education in mind. It may sound trite, but if the program is too easy, you are not going to learn enough to make it worth your time. You do want to look for a school that has a thorough, comprehensive program that is geared towards real life and career advancement situations. It is also vital to verify their accreditation and make sure it meets your needs. You also want to make sure there are no required log-in times. However, you can expect due dates and other guidelines for assignments and class participation.
Before you enroll in an on-line university or any educational program you should take some time to access what a commitment you are really making. The convenience of on-line will allow you to stay home and do your homework and avoid babysitting costs while your children watch movies or play video games, but you will be doing homework NOT playing video games. You should plan on spending an average of 12 hours a week studying for an undergraduate class and 15-20 hours for a graduate level class. Obviously, something has to give. If possible, you may want to reduce your hours at work. The reality for most of us is that we have to reduce our social and leisure time. If you are serious about advancing your education you will come to accept this as a fact of life.
Most of us are fortunate enough to have friends, children, grandchildren, a spouse and other interests besides our academic endeavors. Though you may have to give up going to happy hour twice a week or watching every baseball game of the season, it is critical that you maintain some kind of a balance to make sure your relationships and other aspects of your life flourishes while you also achieve academic success.
The key to achieving this balance is organization and scheduling. You should schedule study times and a designated space with limited distractions in which to work. You may also want to consider taking advantage of lunch hours and other breaks at work to maximize your study time and your family or leisure time. It is equally as important to schedule social time. If you are married or have a significant other it helps to schedule a date night or other time during the week to spend with that person. The same would apply to children and grandchildren. Let your family members know they matter and though you need to study, your time with them is also important. It really helps to plan vacations when you are on break from school. Not only do you not have the complication of juggling school and vacation, but it really gives you something to look forward to as you are burning the midnight oil.
Speaking of midnight oil, it may be just about impossible not to have a few very long nights, but remember to pay particular attention to your health and include sleep, a good diet and exercise in your plan. Nothing will slow your studies down more than an illness. That being said, illness and other emergencies do happen. If something keeps you from completing an assignment, be sure and keep in touch with your instructor. In most cases you will find empathy and flexibility.
In sum, if you do want to advance your education you will need to be better organized and make some sacrifices. The convenience of on-line learning will allow you to do this while working and continuing your relationships with friends, family and other interests.