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Successful Time Management for Busy Online Students

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Time management is an issue of supreme importance to working adults who are juggling school with already demanding schedules. Terry Grant, the Director of Admissions Management for American Public University System, understands this very well, as she went back to school primarily to improve her ability to provide for her family as a single parent of three. Today she uses that experience, as well as her background in psychology and higher education administration, to help others achieve their goals.

The first problem for adults contemplating additional education is making the time commitment. Dr. Randy Pausch of Carnegie Mellon’s lecture on “Time Management” at the University of Virginia in November, 2007 referred to what he called the “Time Famine”. His condition made his subject more poignant; he was battling terminal cancer and died the following year at the age of 49.  He said in essence, “The time you spend is time you can’t get back, so the issue is not how much the courses cost, but ‘is it worth two years of your life?'” 

Bob Brzenchek is a former police officer and former US Navy Reserve Intelligence Specialist who owns his own business. “Consultant4Hire07” conducts vulnerability threat assessments for private and government agencies. In spite of all the other demands on his time, he attends American Public University System online and expects to graduate soon with a Master’s in Strategic Intelligence with a minor in terrorism studies.

He points out that “If you want that stellar job or promotion you will always need education to advance yourself.  In these days, having a master’s is equivalent to a bachelor’s degree.  You need to stand out from the crowd.”

He also agreed with Dr. Pausch’s equation, ‘Bad time management = Stress.’  Pausch had explained that one has to make fundamental adjustments to the way one spends time, and Mr. Brzenchek acknowledged this.  “Students with poor time management skills cause themselves and others around them stress.  If you work as a team or individually, goals are important.  A clear path and direction for your day, week, month and year will take you a long way.”

Ms. Grant explained, “Time management tools are built into college classes from day one; the syllabus is there for a reason!  You know from the start what your workload is, when readings and assignments are due, when exams will be administered. You can map the whole semester out to fit your schedule and never feel rushed.  Each student has a different learning style and his or her own unique set of strengths and weaknesses.  Our introductory class at American Public University, Foundations of Online Learning, will help students determine their learning style so they can prioritize their work in a way that makes sense for them.”

Academic services help students manage their time more effectively. Mr. Brzenchek noted that, “The University has a great online network that is very streamlined.  When you go to the homepage after logging in, everything you need academically is at your fingertips. My advisor has been instrumental in ensuring that I am on track to graduation and has contacted various offices to follow up on my behalf.  My mom was diagnosed with cancer and I have been granted much needed course extensions which have been approved by my professors.”
Ms. Grant remarked, “Using the syllabus to plan ahead is vital.  And if unexpected circumstances arise, communicate, communicate, and communicate.  Let your advisors and instructors know what’s going on in your life and ask for their assistance and advice.  You’ll find more often than not that there are ways to work around special circumstances, but you won’t know if you don’t ask.”

As Mr. Brzenchek summarized, “I think back to my law enforcement days and what I always heard from my sergeant with respect to responding to calls. ‘You are no good to anyone if you get in an accident enroute.  Take your time and assess your surroundings, then proceed with caution’.  To avoid the time famine, it’s also a good idea to assess your situation from time to time, and proceed accordingly.”

By Online Learning Tips Staff

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