If I had all the money in the world, I’d be a professional student. I love school, which might explain why I have so many letters after my name. I just keep seeking out new degrees and certifications. This practice became substantially harder after I had children and couldn’t just run out to the local university or community college after work to take a class whenever I pleased. As you can imagine, I think online learning is one of the greatest inventions of our modern age. My Holistic Health Coach certification came completely from web classes offered by an institution where I was able to learn with students from all over the world, thanks to distance learning.
[Find online degrees through Kaplan University.]
I have to admit, as much as it pains me to say, I felt a little old when I first started taking classes from home. There are some necessary adjustments to being a student online as opposed to being one in the regular classroom. For me, it was thrilling to be able to fit school into my already busy schedule as a working mom, but it was also challenging to fit school into my already busy schedule as a working mom.
You see, when a person has to go to classes in a building away from home, there is some level of understanding that comes from all parties involved, the student included. You have to set aside time for that class and work that gets done for it, because if you show up without the work, you risk looking like any number of not-great things; slacker, dummy, lazy, flighty, you get the picture. So you and your family have to accommodate that schedule if you want to keep your reputation, and possibly your self-esteem intact.
When your classes are online, it’s that much more challenging not to just set aside time, but stick with the time you have allotted to get the work done. Not just because you don’t have the public humiliation of a classroom, but also, for old geezers (or, more mature students, as I like to say) like me, or people of any age with a lot of plates in the air, online learning can get pushed aside because of its very convenience and flexibility.
The way I saw fit to combat these issues was to treat my online classes as if they were scheduled by a third party with mandatory attendance. Some actually were at a set time and if you missed that you had no later access. Those were obviously easier to schedule, but I started treating everything-live lecture or recorded-exactly the same.
I carved out time in my schedule to attend class. This means that during those blocks on my calendar, I couldn’t work and if I had kids around, I needed a sitter. It was my time to attend class, even though class was on my laptop and I could attend anywhere I wanted. This way, not only did I never miss a lecture, but I also made sure I got all the work done that went with each session and I wasn’t up until wee hours to do it.
The flexibility of online learning has been life changing for me, as I suspect it is for many others who utilize open universities and massive open online courses. The trick was to manage my time so that I could make the most of that flexibility and not let it get the best of me.
Cristie is a Holistic Health Coach & Doula who writes about the adventures that come with trying to live a healthy lifestyle in the real world with three kids at The Right Hand Mom.