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APU Careers & Learning Online Learning

Instructor Notes: Staying Engaged in the Online Environment

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motivation-online-classes-APUBy Nichole Ahlstrom
COLL100 Faculty at American Public University

There comes a time in one’s academic career when he or she faces a ‘T’ in the road. The choice to continue with college or the option to start a new path in life is a situation far too many students encounter.

Many thoughts race through one’s mind: what to do, what is the right choice, what will the consequences be for this path or that path? In order to stay focused on education, one must prioritize and regain focus on what is really important. Staying focused on the goals one wants to accomplish will help one to move forward in a given situation. Being fulfilled in life does not mean there will not be challenges, but being able to continue on the path that’s been chosen by facing those obstacles will help one to succeed.

Recently, I have faced a similar situation. The initial shock of being forced to deal with my future in education has been placed on my plate for me to analyze and to determine the best course of action. Being able to take in such a thought is not easy by any means. This is where taking a deep breath and going back to the drawing board is essential. In taking the time to determine the best solution, I had to think about the time and effort that I have invested in my education. Being able to set your emotions aside is critical in making a sound decision. Prioritize and Find a Support System

To help me make a decision I first thought about what goals I wanted to accomplish and what timeframe I needed to accomplish them in. Next, I prioritized my goals. This helps me to visually see what objectives I aim to fulfill. Lastly, I communicated to my husband what my plan of action was so that he could be a second voice of reason. I like having my husbands support, but being able to communicate my goals with him ensures that I have a great support system by my side.

[See also: How to Prepare for School Assessments]

Analyze Emotional Outcomes

Emotions can weigh heavily on a decision because of personal beliefs, values, and interests. Analyzing the aspects of emotions like accountability, obligation, and responsibility are imperative for students to determine their value in the online classroom. In order for students to truly succeed, they must believe in the effort they make towards their education. I try and remember the quote “If it were easy, everyone would do it.” This is where I have to focus on my ambitions, my life, and myself and stop worrying about what others are doing in order to be successful. Value is also an important aspect to review here. Determining if continuing on with education is worth the investment, both personally and financially, will help one to see the value in education. Identifying one’s value will help him/her to take control of a given situation and to help decide on which choice must be made. Once I complete my doctorate degree I will be a college professor, a dream that I have had since I was a junior in high school.

When a student is faced with the decision to continue on the education path or to take another route, the discussion must be solely up to the student. Such decisions can be some of the toughest to make, yet being able to evaluate and reflect on what is truly important and of value to the student will shine once a final decision has been made. For myself, I have decided to stay the course of education, as I know deep down that with my education I can truly do anything I set my mind to. The feelings of accomplishment and pride overpower any tough educational decision by allowing me to pursue my educational dreams. The same can be true for you.

About the Author

Nichole Ahlstrom is an adjunct faculty member who teaches COLL100: Foundations of Online Learning at American Public University. She holds a Bachelors of Science in Criminal Justice Administration and a Master of Science in Psychology from the University of Phoenix. She is currently working on her Doctor of Management in Organizational Leadership degree with the University of Phoenix. Nichole lives in Okinawa, Japan with her husband, who is an active duty Marine, and they have two boys. Nichole loves being a mother, spending time with her family, volunteering, exercising, and traveling.

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