Perseverance as an Online College Student
By the time November rolls around, online students have, for all intents and purposes, worked out their own delicate balancing act of juggling family, work, service, and school. They’ve spent three months refining their schedules until they’ve established a routine that works for them.
Week after week, quiz after quiz, paper after paper passes, until finally – there’s a holiday approaching, and with it, the additional stresses we’ve noted so far. But when an online student can apply those now-well-practiced juggling skills toward gearing up for the holiday, rest and relaxation can get back on the agenda. Here’s a few tips how to manage it:
- Use Halloween as your starting point. Making your plans early lets you reap rewards. Ask for time off, especially if your employer follows a “first-come first-served” vacation hours policy. Book your travel plans, child care, pet care, restaurant reservations and anything else you need early, and not only do you save money, you save yourself the hassle of trying to arrange things at the 11th hour.
- Use your resources. I know one family of six with two military/student parents that enjoys a virtually stress-free Thanksgiving because they use their local grocery store catering for most of their meal. The kids make their favorite treats (jello with mini-marshmallows), but dad picks up the turkey, stuffing, potatoes, green salad and pumpkin pie the night before. They reheat and eat, and spend their day enjoying time together. If your local grocers don’t offer holiday meals-to-go, see if one of your favorite restaurants will let you order carry out.
- Keep it simple. You don’t have to trot out the fine china and linens every year to make the holidays special. What makes the day special is the memories you make with the ones you love. Paper plates work just as well for serving pumpkin pie as Lenox china (and they cost less when you drop them).
- Know when to fold. Not only do kids get tired and cranky, friends, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins do too. If you’re visiting friends or relatives, save yourself a lot of energy by deciding upfront how long you’re going to stay before you get wrapped up in the visit. “Five more minutes,” “one more drink,” “one more game” can start to pile up until everyone – kids and grownups alike – is past their sociability expiration date. This is especially important if you know you’re going to have to study or work in the morning.
- Make a vacation sandwich. It’s hard to relax and enjoy family time or a good meal with homework looming over your head. Try to finish any assignments early and plan some time near the end of the holiday for review. You’ll be able to enjoy the vacation without the cloud of “to-do’s,” and the review time means you can start the week with your coursework fresh in your mind.
So what do you think? Is a Thanksgiving holiday an oasis of refreshment in the desert of online studies? Or is it really a sand trap in disguise? A little of both, perhaps? How do you prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday? Let us know in the comments below.
Sources: 2012 Online Student Demographic Study by The Learning House; U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2013). Digest of Education Statistics, 2012 (NCES 2014-015), Chapter 3.