Tuesday, October 11, 2016 by Deb Laudenslager
Completing three credits in eight weeks is rewarding and challenging. On the positive side, eight weeks fly by, and before you know it you have another course under your belt. It is so much more encouraging to make progress towards your goals every eight weeks, rather than 16 weeks. But as with most things in life, there’s the other side of the coin.
In case you haven’t stopped to process it literally, you will be completing three credits of a master’s level course in half the time that you had to complete three credits of your undergraduate degree. Yep, that means you are moving at twice the pace on higher-level learning. However, don’t fret, with a good plan, it is very manageable. In fact, one semester while working and taking a week-long vacation, I was able to manage two courses at once. (Although I don’t recommend doing this until you have several courses completed and have a good routine in place. Additionally, I chose content I was already familiar with to increase my chances of success).
So, what are some time management tips? I mentioned the first one already. It is important to have a plan and stick to the plan. This was the best piece of advice I was given when going through the admissions process. The old saying is “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”
I’m sure everyone’s plan is a bit different, but here is mine:
Sunday/Monday – Read, read, read…Plan for at least 4-5 hours for reading. There is quite a bit of reading on your own in these courses and it’s important to hit the ground running early in the week so that you can use what you’ve learned and incorporate it into your weekly posts and assignments.
Tuesday (at lunch when I was working) – Complete weekly discussion post. Completing this post on Tuesday puts you ahead of the game since they are due by Wednesday at midnight central time. (My goal was to minimize taking more time away from my family doing schoolwork at home, so I devised a plan to use my lunches at work two days a week for schoolwork).
Wednesday evening – either complete weekly discussion post (if my Tuesday work plan didn’t work out), or begin reading classmates posts as they come in. With a little luck, you can find a few that were submitted early on which you want to comment. (If all goes well, your obligation to respond to posts is completed by Wednesday evening).
Thursday (at lunch when I was working) – complete weekly assignment. (Sometimes this worked, sometimes I only got it started, but at least it was started).
Thursday evening – Check in on discussion posts (to see if I need to respond to any questions directed at me by classmates) /finish assignment.
Friday/Saturday – On a good week, I was done with the exception of checking in on discussion posts quickly just to make sure I had everything completed. When things didn’t work out exactly as planned, I’d spend a few hours Saturday/Sunday wrapping things up. My goal is to be done by Sunday so I can start reading for the next week.
Sunday Evening – One last check to be sure everything is completed for the week.
In terms of success rate, I’d say my plan worked 40 – 60% of the time with the balance requiring some more weekday evenings or weekend time. Whether you follow my plan or create something different, the key is to have a plan and try to stick to it!