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Most Challenging/Rewarding Aspects of the Online HR Master’s Program

The challenges and rewards of the online HR master’s program often go hand-in-hand. In most cases, every conquered challenge becomes its own reward because it increases self-confidence and problem-solving abilities. Everyone enters the program with their own strengths and weaknesses which the program curriculum is designed to support. For me, personally, challenges and rewards were inevitably linked; some expected, others a surprise.

Anyone embarking on a graduate degree needs to address Time Management and Self-Discipline skills, however, no one should allow the fear of these to prevent them from entering the program. The first two prerequisite courses in the HR program, Organizational Behavior & Leadership, and Human Resources, allow ample time and support to experiment with personal study schedules, and establish a routine that best accommodates individual lifestyles. That is the absolute beauty of online schooling; there is no lost time traveling to and from campus, or time spent in class covering material you have already mastered, but classmates have not. Every minute spent in the program is determined by you, the student, to be utilized in the most personally-beneficial way. This fact alone turns the challenge of Time Management into a Reward before classes even begin; it certainly did for me!

“A challenge is only an obstacle when you bow to it.” -- Ray Davis

So, what about having online professors; isn’t that a challenge? Only if you let it be; in fact, for some students it can prove to be more effective for them. I have always loved the interaction of a ‘real’ classroom and was never shy asking questions. However, at first, even I felt somewhat apprehensive to ‘bother’ my online professors with questions and concerns, but my apprehension was completely unfounded. It didn’t take long to realize that I created an obstacle that didn’t exist; every one of my professors were approachable and eager to assist. Clearly, the challenge of online instruction was not a product of the program, but of my own erroneous thinking. Problem solved, reward granted!

How about all those weekly “discussion posts/replies” – aren’t they challenging? The weekly discussion posts represent classroom discussions that would occur naturally in an on-site teaching environment. If an on-site classmate offered an interesting perspective about that week’s topic you wouldn’t just sit and stare at him, you would respond by providing conversational feedback - counter theories and arguments, or perhaps, you would ask for further clarification. Discussion replies allow for this type of open discussion. At first, I viewed these posts – both initial posts and replies – as ‘work.’ I adopted an overly-clinical, overly-formal, approach that was, again, self-created. Once I allowed myself to relax and enjoy the ‘conversation,’ I eagerly participated and the challenge, once again, became rewarding. I began to look forward to the exchange of ideas and learned a great deal in the process. As with so many things, perspective plays a large part in how we face challenges!

“You should never view your challenges as a disadvantage. Instead, it’s important for you to understand that your experience facing and overcoming adversity is actually one of your biggest advantages.” -- Michelle Obama

About the Author

Lynne J. Keenan

University of Scranton, Masters in Human Resources (June 2017).  Hospital HR, residential home building, and Health Information Management experience. Resides in Bucks County, PA, with her husband, three children and four rescue dogs.

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