Success in the Online Environment – It’s All About Routine

For some of us in the Masters of Professional Writing program here at Chatham, this academic endeavor is beginning years after we have last taken a class. One of the great things about this program is that it’s offered online, so you can work at attaining this degree from anywhere with an Internet connection, and you can go to class at any time. But, fitting an online graduate program into your life requires hard work, dedication, and the ability to manage your own time wisely. My intentions with this post are to offer advice based on my experience thus far as a full-time graduate student and a full-time employee, to perhaps make the transition easier for a prospective MPW student.

When I first began the program, I mentioned my concerns about not having the time to be able to meet deadlines or participate in discussions in an introductory discussion post. My fellow classmates who already had a few courses under their belt were quick to try and ease my worries. “It’s all about making and sticking to a routine,” they said. It may sound simple, but it’s the best advice I could pass on – routine will undoubtedly make this transition easier.

Establish a Routine

Many of us may find it difficult to stick to a routine, with hectic schedules and unplanned situations every day. But, if you write things down, week-by-week, you will eventually fall into a productive schedule. Invest in a planner that you can take with you wherever you go, to stay on track. Every Sunday, I look at assignment sheets for the following week and write down what is due on what day, so I can look at the week as a whole and evaluate how much time needs to be devoted to school each day. In addition, every day, I take a piece of paper and write down what exactly I am aiming to work on that evening. I find it’s nice to make lists like that, so when you cross something off you feel good.

Immerse Yourself

Because the majority of classes are discussion-based, and we’re not meeting face to face to talk, it’s important to make significant time in your schedule for being present in these discussions and offering your ideas. It’s easy to make your post and forget about it, but I advise you to return to the discussion boards after you’ve made your comments to see what others had to say about your ideas. After all, that’s mostly how we are going to learn in this environment.

Make Time for Yourself, Too

You may have a job that keeps you at a desk, on a computer, for the entire day. I find it’s difficult to want to log right into classes once I get home, to sit at the computer for another few hours. So, allow yourself some time to do something you enjoy every day, whether it’s cooking, yoga, or taking a walk. You will feel more refreshed when you return to the computer to do some more work.

Be Curious

Another piece of advice I can offer is to get to know your fellow classmates. We may be miles away from one another and not meet face-to-face, but I find a positive in online discussion is that everybody has to talk, as opposed to the regular classroom environment where you can get by without opening your mouth all year. We all have different backgrounds and different things to offer to one another’s learning experience, and you can really learn a lot from those in your class.

I am sure I am not alone in having concerns about online study. I hope that what I’ve offered will diminish some of your concerns, and instead make you eager to begin the program – no matter what other jobs, hobbies, or time-consuming commitments you may have in your life. A little effort in establishing a routine, making time for discussions, and making time for yourself will set you up for success.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *