I have to say, the transition to online school was a little bit terrifying. Not only had it been several years since I had last been in school, but I had never taken a single online course in my life.
I had all kinds of questions about it: Will I get as much out of it? Will I like the independence? Will I be self-motivated enough? Will I be able to manage my time without actually having to attend a class? The list went on and on. Now that I am halfway through my master’s program, I know that I could not have made a better choice. Not only has Saint Joseph’s been fantastic to work with, but with my busy full-time and extracurricular work schedule, online has proven to be the best experience for me.
Time Is Limited
I am a 7th grade science teacher. I also am a front-ensemble instructor for a percussion program at a local high school. My commute to work is a little over an hour and I have rehearsals two nights a week (as well as rehearsals and competitions all day Saturdays). My husband and I also have a dog. In other words, our weeks are jam packed and our time is limited. Studying online has reduced a huge amount of stress in my graduate studies.
I absolutely can’t imagine what it would be like if I also had to plan for a commute to school to sit through a two- or three-hour lecture, then drive all the way home and do my homework. Online school lets me operate on MY timeline, which is hugely important with my schedule.
I have found myself to be way more organized and disciplined than I originally thought. To be completely honest, I was afraid that having to operate on my own schedule was actually going to be more stressful than someone just telling me what to do and when. I have found that since there is not “set” schedule, I have to set a schedule for myself to stick to, or else something won’t get done.
Some professors believe in a set weekly routine, initial discussion posts, responses, and assignments all due on the same set day of the week, every week. I like this. It is reliable, dependable, and I know what is expected every week. In the event that I have a professor without this schedule, I set one up for myself! My SJU Google account allows me to build a Google calendar with reminders that I can get on my phone, keeping me on track for deadlines.
I am now halfway through my instructional design and technology program, and feel like I have settled into a routine. Whether it is independent assignments, collaborative assignments, written assignments or multi-media assignments, I can look at the week ahead and schedule times to sit down and get it done. The best part is when I get it done early, I have a few days to myself! I would do another online program in a heartbeat and I’m extremely grateful I took a leap and gave it a try.