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Sunday, November 11, 2012

How to Attend School Online While Working Full-Time (and not Feel Overwhelmed)

Today I have Brian Jenkins guest blogging. Please be sure to check out his unique guest post. Guest posts are always welcome, please contact me.

According to a report from the State University of New York at Brockport, over 10 percent of college students work over 35 hours a week. Working full-time and going back to school can be one of the biggest challenges of your life, especially if you have kids.
Consider only acquiring new knowledge and skills for your current job if it makes you a noticeably better employee or helps you get a promotion or a raise. Decide how the degree might help you reach your career aspirations.

Online Certificate Programs
Online undergraduate and graduate certificate programs are less expensive than bachelor's and master's degrees and they require less time to complete. If you're going back to school to advance in your career at your current workplace, do your homework on certificate programs and ask your boss if the specialized certificate program you're considering qualifies you for that promotion you're gunning for.
Depending on the job, a bachelor's or a master's degree may not be necessary. Certificates demonstrate proficiency in a specific area, and this may be enough to get you the promotion.

Employer Pays
Many companies have a tuition assistance program designed to assist employees who take courses while working full-time. Typically, the courses you take must relate to your job and you might need to show how the courses will make you a more knowledgeable and effective employee.

Synchronous Online Learning Versus Asynchronous Online Learning
Consider taking asynchronous courses. In these, you're allowed to complete your coursework whenever it's convenient. You communicate with other students and instructors via message boards and email. In synchronous courses you need to log on to your computer at specific times every week. You may have to be online at specific times to have group chats, participate in webinars, be involved in video conferences, or participate in phone call-ins.
Synchronous classes work well for students who can easily schedule specific days and times to participate in online classes. Those with complicated schedules usually prefer asynchronous courses. Asynchronous courses work well for self-motivated students who don't require direct guidance to complete their assignments.

Set Goals
Set daily goals as these will help you stay motivated. At the beginning of each online course, peruse the materials. Break the lessons/assignments into manageable pieces and determine how many pieces you can complete every couple of days.

School Resources
Take advantage of school resources such as orientation, the online library, and study skills training. Perform research online at home through your school's library portal. Many schools provide free online tutoring.
Carefully read the syllabus provided at the beginning of class. The syllabus gives you a feel for the expectations of the class.

Research at Work
It may not be easy to study during your lunchtime or your two breaks at work, but it's easy to research on the Internet during these times and download articles to your laptop to read at home.

Study Area
It's often recommended that students have a dedicated study area; however, occasionally studying in a different setting, such as a different room in the house or outside, can be refreshing and inspirational. If you have a laptop computer, occasionally go to another room and plug it in. Changing the study area especially helps when you get bogged down.

Kids, pets, email, telephone calls, text messages, as well as social networking websites easily take up a lot of valuable time. Don't instantly respond to unnecessary text messages such as "What's Happening?" Use your call display to decide if you should answer the phone during study hours.
Don't respond to each personal email after you receive it. Instead, respond to personal email during set study break times.
If you have kids at home make it clear they shouldn't interrupt you while you're studying unless it's really important. A desire for cheese puffs isn't important!
If you take too many classes at a time, you can easily get overwhelmed. To help you determine the number of classes you should take while working full-time, talk to a school enrollment advisor and find out how much time, including study time, each course will take every week.

Brian Jenkins writes about a variety of topics for jobseekers, including those interested in careers as electricians, for the Riley Guide.

Many thanks to Brian Jenkins.
Enjoy your reading!