With so many benefits gained from taking online courses, it is not surprising that more than 6.7 million people now participate in online course studies. Between situations such as the economic downturn in 2008 that forced many people to explore new career options, the convenient educational benefits for work at home moms particularly those using MYCAA for military spouses, as well as, those participating in the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), online learning is at an all-time high with no hint at receding anytime soon.
In spite of or, perhaps, due to the convenience of studying at home without any classrooms to visit, it is just as easy to procrastinate as an online student as it is for traditional students. Knowing that it is possible to study any time of the day or night, catching up with course readings at all hours, or watching a class video when it is most convenient create a perfect storm for missing deadlines and ultimately not performing optimally.
Online students who are work-at-home moms benefit from seeking out a realistic work-life balance that suits their studies, as well as their need and desire to take care of their children and spouse. Students looking for this work-life balance will benefit from exploring the following five time management tips.
1. Create a Calendar and Commit to It. Once students receive a course syllabus, logging critical dates into an online or a hard-copy calendar will work wonders toward keeping students on track, pacing themselves to keep up with important dates as they consistently check their calendar. Students should build designated study times into their calendars and keep those dates.
2. Keep Some Flexibility. As ambitious as work-at-home moms feel when starting an online class, it is just as important to allow for unforeseen issues that will invariably arise, such as, sick children or Internet connectivity issues. Students should explore contingency plans for any occasion. Staying slightly ahead of the syllabus is one of the best ways to build a nest of security to avoid missing important deadlines and tests.
3. Check in Consistently. One of the most important time management tips includes checking into the class’s website daily. Students who use tablets and smartphones, in addition to home computers, can easily check into class forums and discussions when taking children to soccer practice or swimming lessons.
4. Reach Out to Instructors. Students with instructors who invite students to contact them should take advantage of this opportunity. Not only does this type of communication help the instructor have a better perspective on each student, it also helps create a larger sense of accountability for students.
5. Forgive Missteps. Finding work-life balance takes time, particularly for new online students. While it is important not to make a habit of missing deadlines or trading excellence for efficiency, it is important for students to remember that they are fallible humans who have to figure out the learning curve of approaching online education and its potential pitfalls. Students who miss a deadline or do not perform to their expectations for an exam or paper should give themselves permission to move forward and do better in the future.