How to Steer a Steady Course in Your Online College Program
Author: Briana Bass
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Start a degree program at American Public University.
By Briana Bass
Senior Academic Advisor, APUS
Finding a balance among your work, personal life, and college program can be challenging, and not just for you. It can affect your family and friends as well. And should something unexpected occur, keeping that balance can be even more daunting.
Here are some ideas to consider:
- Take one course at a time when you’re starting out. A light schedule could provide you with more time to focus on yourself and your family. When you feel more comfortable with your studies, you can consider taking two courses simultaneously.
- Create a calendar that includes all upcoming coursework deadlines, including forum posts, weekly readings, tests and quizzes, and research papers.
- Schedule specific days and times solely for your schoolwork. Keep the calendar where your family can see it too, and encourage them to respect your school time.
- Designate a school workspace. This should be somewhere as free of distractions as possible. Use it only for school assignments and try not to let anyone else use this space, because they might not leave it the same way they found it.
- Have an accountability partner. Ask this person to check in with you on a regular basis, perhaps just before or after your scheduled schoolwork time. For example, if you plan to study from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Monday night, your accountability partner could text you at 9:15 p.m. to ask if you completed a specific assignment or read a particular chapter for that week. Your partner can help keep you on track and support you throughout your course.
- Take advantage of your resources. Your instructors, the APUS librarians and your Academic Advising team are resources too. They are always happy to assist you.
It’s Okay if Personal Responsibilities Sometimes Take Precedence over Your Program
When the unexpected occurs, such as an illness or injury, maintaining a work/life/school balance might not be a priority. You may have personal responsibilities that take precedence and that’s okay.
Contact your instructor to let him or her know what has happened and that you may not be able to devote your attention to your schoolwork at this time. You are also encouraged to notify your Academic Advising team as soon as possible to discuss your options for completing your courses.
For example, depending on your circumstances, a course extension could be an option for you. Extensions can provide you with an additional 30 or even 60 days to complete a course. You will want to reach out to your instructor to discuss this option, because the instructor will be the one to review your request and decide whether to approve or deny it. You will also need to submit a Course Extension Request Form.
Each circumstance is unique, so it’s strongly encouraged that you reach out to your Academic Advising team to discuss which options are best for your specific situation. We understand that you may be confused or overwhelmed when you try to determine your next steps.
No matter the situation, remember that you are not alone. APUS representatives are available to discuss your options with you. Their goal is your success.
About the Author
Briana is the Senior Academic Advisor for the Graduate Studies Academic Advising Team. She completed her Bachelor’s in English at Manchester College.