Tagged: online learning

Use Your Summer Wisely

Posted by Kelli McKinney
summer-prep-for-fall-educationIt’s May. You’ve just enrolled in an online degree program starting in August. Now what? Before you grab the sunscreen and hit the pool, you may want to make sure you’re ready to hit the books this fall.  Your college or department will probably have some specific instructions on getting up to speed. In the meantime, here are some tips you can use this summer to make sure your adjustment to online education is as smooth as soft serve. Take time with the system When it’s available, spend some prep time navigating through your class environment. You don’t have to do this all at once. You’ll want to make sure that you know how to do these things before your first class:
  • Access course materials: syllabus, videos, study guides, reading materials
  • Download and print any reference material
  • View, download, and turn in any assignment
  • Take a test
  • Get feedback from a classmate/give feedback to a classmate
  • Ask a question of the class or the instructor
  • Find an advisor
  • Create or join a study group
  • Get system support/technical help
  • Contact your instructor
  • View your grades
Check on financial aid If you’re receiving military education benefits, grants, scholarships or loans, contact your school’s financial aid office regularly to make sure everything is in order.  Find out:
  • How and when tuition is paid
  • When/if loans are due (when to start paying back)
  • If other fees or books are covered
  • Who to talk to if there’s a problem
  • How to check your account balance
  Make time for the work You’re ready for the first day of class, but are you ready for the next four months of classwork?  Go ahead and block off some time daily or weekly for completing homework and preparing for tests.  A good rule of thumb is to plan three hours of homework each week for every one hour of credit. So for a three-credit course, you’ll want to set aside nine hours of study time. If you have a job or family, start talking with them now about the kind of time commitment you’ll need to make in the fall to be successful in the class.  And make sure you’re designating plenty of time for them too. Watch the syllabus When your syllabus is posted, read it. All of it. Mark test dates and homework dates on your calendar. If there are books to download or purchase, the key to saving money is buying them early online. There are bargain booksellers online that may be less expensive than the virtual school bookstore – but again, the key to savings is buying early. Protect your computer You’re going to send and receive a lot of files, so you need to make sure you have a security program in place. If you’ve already got one, keep it updated and running.  Not only could a virus knock you out of commission and make you miss an important due date, identity theft is just plain horrible. Don’t risk it – use a good security program. Your school may even have a few that they recommend. Make a back-up plan Even the most reliable internet connections can experience outages. But when entire degree programs are conducted via the internet, instructors expect you to have connectivity and they don’t usually take “I couldn’t log in” as an excuse for missing assignment due dates.  Have a back-up study location – a local library, coffee shop, deli, or school, for example – just in case your provider fails. With a little preparation, you’ll be ready to make a big splash not just at the pool this summer, but also in your classroom this fall.   #militaryeducationbenefits #militarystudents #onlineeducation

The Online Student’s Spring Break Dilemma

Posted by Christine A. Shelly
Spring-Break-online-students-militaryauthorityA group of college students meet for coffee one March morning to discuss their Spring Break plans. Student A is a sophomore at the local state college; he plans to pick up some extra hours at his part time job. Student B is in her second year at a nearby community college; she and some friends are driving to the beach for the week. Student C works full time at a small startup business, serves in the Army Reserves and is in an online bachelor of business administration degree program. Pop quiz:  Does Student C get a spring break? Depending on the school, the answer is probably no, there’s no ‘official’ spring break for most online programs. But here’s the thing: You don’t need to be a traditional student to have a spring break. There are plenty of ways to take a breather without getting behind in classwork. Online classwork = flexibility. If you can swing it, spend a little time getting ahead in your reading, projects or assignments so you can relax. If you don’t live near a beach and/or can’t afford the airfare (who can?) Here’s a few ideas for some springtime fun:
  1. Put on your sunglasses and be a tourist in your own city. Most people avoid their local landmarks – and they miss out on some fascinating history and entertainment. Pack yourself a picnic, grab a few coins for the parking meters and spend a day (or two) basking in the glory of your own hometown.
  2. Give back. If there’s a cause that’s near and dear to your heart, spend time volunteering for them when you’d usually study. During a time of year when most people bug out, a lot of organizations would probably be happy to have an extra pair of hands.
  3. Road trip it. If you absolutely, positively, must get out of Dodge, pick someplace you can drive in an hour or two and soak up all the local flavor. Speaking of flavor, you could make a game of eating only at local diners or drive-ins along the way to wherever you’re going (and back).
Some students – I was always one of these – use spring break to get ahead caught up on projects and reading. If you’re one of these souls, don’t forget that it’s good study hygiene to take a break now and then. Find ways to unplug for a little while – even if you only take an hour away here or there, recharging time is important. Here are a couple of ideas for mini-getaways:
  • Foodie fieldtrip. This is also known as Dinner (or Lunch) Out. Go to a restaurant, sit down and relax. If you really want to live it up, shower beforehand and put on a clean shirt. You’ll feel like a new person.
  • Get some Vitamin S – Sunshine. Okay, so it’s actually Vitamin D that sunlight delivers, but that’s not as catchy. At any rate, taking a brisk walk outside for twenty minutes can do wonders for you and your brain. Put the laptop aside for a little while and get moving in the great outdoors.
  • Read for fun. Give your brain a rest and read something else that interests you. Spend a few minutes on something that you want to read, whether that’s a classic novel, a comic book, or a trashy magazine.
  If you’re an online student, you still need a breather so you can finish the semester strong. Give yourself a much-needed break and don’t miss out on the fun. Even if you have to create your own. Tell us your spring break tales in the comments below…keep it clean, this is a family blog!  😉   By Christine A. Shelly #springbreak #onlinestudents #roadtrip #vitamind #readinglists

The Battle for Your Brain: Ways to Avoid Distractions

Posted by Christine A. Shelly
thinking3_militaryauthorityMultiple assignments with springtime distractions can be tiresome and threaten your grade point average, making finishing the last few weeks of the spring semester akin to running a medieval gauntlet. There are so many things fighting for your attention: email, texts, Facebook and Twitter, family, friends, coworkers, and even pets. Here are some easy things you can do to combat distractions and finish the semester strong: Identify your weaknesses. Can you resist a text message? What about a Facebook notification? If your web browser is open, can you ignore it or must you surf? Knowing what distracts you will help you form a strategy to avoid straying from your target. Be honest with yourself, and make a list of every potential threat to your focus. This leads us to number 3… Use your resources. When you know what you want to achieve, and you’ve identified potential obstacles to achieving your goals, the next step is to figure out what you can do to help yourself stay focused. Is noise is a distraction? Wear noise-canceling headphones or put in ear buds and listen to ocean sounds. If email or text notifications are a problem for you, adjust your phone’s settings and turn them off, or put your phone in a drawer across the room while you’re working. For some people, shutting down Outlook and closing their Internet browser is the only way to get things accomplished. If you have kids or pets that distract you, ask a friend, family member or neighbor to keep them occupied so you can work. Read two more tips on the Military Authority Google + page. Do you have a plan to counteract distractions? What works for you?  Let us know in the comments below.   References: http://topachievement.com/smart.html


http://www.helpguide.org/articles/add-adhd/adult-adhd-attention-deficit-disorder-self-help.htm #stayfocused #adultstudents #studysmarter

The Education You Need for the Job You Want

Posted by Christine A. Shelly
education for the job you wantWhen a major retailer announced last week that it would increase salaries for its hourly employees, many people took notice. Whether the move was a byproduct of pressure from lobbyists or unions, no one but the decision-maker truly knows. A spokesperson for the retailer stated that this long-awaited increase was driven by the desire to retain, and attract, good employees and reduce costly turnover. This move is yet another indication that competition for jobs is fierce – and it’s also a signal that companies want to attract well qualified people – hiring for good-paying, career-building jobs. That’s good news. So what does it take to find a one of these jobs?  That’s a great question, and if we had a guaranteed solution, we could retire early. Based on a look at some of the top employers’ most sought-after jobs, the most common denominator is a bachelor’s degree. Among the top five employers from the Top 100 Military Friendly Employers list, a look at their websites reveals that they are actively hiring for a variety of roles: administrative, engineering, and human resources to name a few. Let’s take a look at what kind of responsibilities are entailed, and what kind of education is required to qualify for an Office Manager position. Administrative Roles:  Office Manager The Bureau of Labor Statistics describes these tasks as those performed by office managers or administrators regardless of the business:
  • Oversee the purchasing, storage of distribution of office supplies
  • Manage all administrative and clerical personnel
  • Oversee the budget for contracts, equipment and supplies
  • In factories, overseeing the maintenance and repair of machinery and electrical and mechanical systems.
  • Office managers also often keep track of environmental and health regulations and make sure a company adheres to those standards.
Education:  College degrees are not always required for entry-level roles in these positions, but in leadership roles, a bachelor’s degree is a requirement. A master’s in business administration can boost chances for promotion.   Engineering Roles: Industrial Engineer The BLS Occupational Handbook states that Industrial engineers typically:
  • Review production schedules, engineering specifications, process flows, and other information to understand methods and activities in manufacturing and services
  • Figure out how to manufacture parts or products, or deliver services, with maximum efficiency
  • Develop management control systems to make financial planning and cost analysis more efficient
  • Enact quality control procedures to resolve production problems or minimize costs
  • Work with customers and management to develop standards for design and production
  • Design control systems to coordinate activities and production planning to ensure that products meet quality standards
  • Confer with clients about product specifications, vendors about purchases, management personnel about manufacturing capabilities, and staff about the status of projects
Education: A bachelor’s degree in industrial, mechanical or civil engineering is a must for these roles. In addition, applicants may want to become licensed so they may carry the designation PE (professional engineer). Licensure requires:
  • A degree from an engineering program accredited by ABET
  • A passing score on the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam
  • Relevant work experience
  • A passing score on the Professional Engineering (PE) exam
  Human Resources:   Labor Relations Specialist The BLS Occupational Outlook states that Labor relations specialists typically:
  • Advise management on contracts, worker grievances, and disciplinary procedures
  • Lead meetings between management and labor
  • Draft proposals and rules or regulations in order to help facilitate collective bargaining
  • Interpret formal communications between management and labor
  • Investigate validity of labor grievances
  • Train management on labor relations
Education: Generally speaking, labor relations specialists usually have a bachelor’s degree in a human resources or business field with coursework in human resource management. However, the level of education and experience required can vary by position and employer. Some organizations prefer specialists who have had coursework in mediation.  There are universities and colleges who offer labor relations certifications, as well as a number of professional associations that offer coursework and supplementary certification programs. The next step is to evaluate your own competencies and interests. It’s important to know where your expertise can be best applied, and where you may need to seek additional education, training or credentials. Do your qualifications make you well-suited to the type of jobs employers offer? If not, education is often the best first step toward reaching your career goal.   References: http://www.forbes.com/sites/kathryndill/2014/11/11/the-top-100-military-friendly-employers/ http://www.usnews.com/news/business/articles/2015/02/25/tj-maxx-marshalls-to-follow-wal-mart-in-raising-pay


By Christine A. Shelly #militarystudents #bachelorsdegree #mastersdegree #getthejobyouwant

Four Math Hacks for the Returning Adult Student

Posted by Christine A. Shelly
math_numberIs a fear of math holding you back from going back to school and pursuing a degree? It’s a common feeling that prevents a lot of people from moving towards their education goals. But it doesn’t have to… Around half of all U.S. adults feel ‘math panic.’ But that panic can be overcome by opening our eyes to how and why we use math every day. When we do this, we’re improving our math skills. For parents of elementary age kids, Math at Hand: A Mathematics Handbook, is a great resource for tackling long forgotten match concepts and recalling math-related vocabulary. Real life math exercises can help, too. Use landmarks to draw a map from your work to your house. Simple, right? You’re using geometry, measurement, algebra and mathematic problem solving skills. Another example: Next time you’re at the store, estimate how much your grocery trip will cost. Boom. Math. Our regular education contributor, Christine Shelly, recently posted some interesting math hacks that could get your brain’s math gears in motion again. Head over to her full article to read more. Do you have any other math tips or hacks that you use? Tell us in the comments. #mathhacks #lifehacks #students

When Your Holiday Plans Include Studying

Posted by Kelli McKinney
nontraditionalFrom an early age, most of us are taught that the Thanksgiving break is a special time.  It’s a time for gratitude, appreciation, and generosity toward our family, friends, and fellow human beings.  It’s a time for reflection, for being aware that in spite of our daily troubles, we are people who have been greatly blessed.  Also, there’s food. If you’re an online college student, sometimes one of the things you’re most grateful for is the time away from school and work that the holiday brings.  There are some online students, though, who maintain that keeping a rigorous routine of study is what will help them finish the semester on top of their game. In some households, the Thanksgiving holidays include kids home from school, parents juggling work and travel plans, and lots of hungry houseguests.  When you’ve got a house full of bustling, festive friends and family, finding a quiet, peaceful place to focus on coursework can be a challenge. If you’re one of those who – for a multitude of reasons – finds themselves needing to hit the books during the holidays, you’re not alone. Here are a few tried and true ways to squeeze in some quality time with your homework over the holidays:
  1. Plan for it.  Figure out how many hours you’ll need to spend reading, writing, or on a webinar, then work those hours in and around your activities.
  2. Give it the turkey treatment. It’s no secret that cooking the holiday meal takes a few hours.  While the bird is cooking, the cook can usually do other things – prepare other meal items, or set the table, or even sit down and watch the parade.  So maybe this year, one of those “other things” is a half hour of reading or studying for a test?
  3. Enlist help.  Wouldn’t it be great if Grandma and Grandpa could watch the kids, or if Aunt Tess could help with shopping, or Uncle Jim could clean the kitchen so you could wrap up that assignment for Monday?  I bet if you ask them, they’d be happy to help.

Perseverance as an Online College Student

Posted by Debi Teter
college-student8By 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:  
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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).
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

For Online Students, is Thanksgiving Break an Oasis or a Mirage?

Posted by Debi Teter
college-student-fall-thanksgiving-breakAh, the holidays. Those blissful four days of relative freedom near the end of November offer college students the chance to go home, take a break from projects and papers, travel to see family and friends, and catch up on much-needed rest. Traditional students might think that the online student spends most of the semester enjoying that kind of freedom. After all, they don’t have to fight for a coveted commuter parking spot and hoof it across a cold campus sidewalk to get to class every day. Online students do enjoy the freedom of doing coursework on their own schedule, and it’s a huge benefit, but it would be a little short sighted to say the online student doesn’t need a holiday break. Who wouldn’t want a chance to spend time at home, take a break from projects and papers, visit friends and family and get some “me” time?  But is that what the Thanksgiving Break really is for online students? It’s time to take a closer look at whether Thanksgiving break for online students is actually a “break” at all. Here’s an examination of the holiday benefits students look forward to versus the average online student’s world. Holiday bliss: There’s no place like home Online student reality: Well, sort of. Since the online student’s classroom is their home, it might be a little hard to get pumped up about that short walk from the computer into the other room. However, there’s always the option to travel to see family – more on that in a minute. Holiday bliss: Putting School Projects on Pause Online student reality: More than half of all online students work full time. Twenty percent of them work part time. For these folks, even if they have time off from work for the holiday it doesn’t make much sense to take a break from their study routine or projects. Once you get behind in class, getting caught up can be an enormous undertaking. Holiday bliss: Adventures in Travel Online student reality: When planning travel for the holidays, they have plenty of preparations to make:  taking time off work, boarding pets, purchasing airfare, train tickets or just filling up the car requires saving money, contributing to the holiday meal requires planning, and if children are involved there’s often extra packing and preparation associated with getting them road-ready. Those who want to get ahead – or stay afloat- in their classwork have an extra layer of planning. If they usually use a desktop computer but are traveling with a laptop, they’ll want to make sure their laptops have their school’s virtual learning platform software installed. Plus, if they’re staying with Great-Aunt Suzy, it might be worthwhile to see if she knows what her internet security passcode is so they can log on as a guest. Otherwise, studying might involve a late-night trip to Starbucks for a latte and free Wi-Fi. Holiday bliss: A Dream Called Rest Online student reality: It’s important to remember that when the online student has a holiday break, all the other students in their house are out of school too. Which means if our online student has to work or study, they’ll have to find a child care solution if family isn’t available to pitch in. Since it’s the holidays, child care providers are often hard to come by. If there are some child care providers available, their services are priced at a premium. And the holidays themselves, as joyous as they are, can be kind of stressful. Shopping, cooking, decorating, entertaining, hosting, traveling – all these activities are the opposite of what busy students would enjoy most: peace and quiet.

First Semester of Online College? What You Need to Know.

Posted by Christine A. Shelly
You-are-here_Vito-DragoWhether you graduated high school last May or finished TDY last Monday, if you’re starting an online education program this fall, there are some things you can do to make every semester a success.   Make a Degree Plan Think of your degree plan as a map to graduation. Once you’ve chosen your major, you need to find out from your advisor how many credit hours are required to graduate. It’s up to you to sort out how many classes you can take each semester in order to graduate within your desired timeframe. Make a Study Plan If you’re like most online students, you’re keeping track of several schedules:  work, family commitments, guard or reserve duties. Take time at the beginning of the semester to review your course syllabi and mark class times, test dates, homework assignments, study group meetings, and other projects on your calendar so there are fewer unpleasant surprises. You will also want to carve out time to take care of yourself – set dates and times for exercise, date nights, and relaxation time so you don’t get burned out. As a general rule, for every credit hour, you should plan on 3 hours of study time per week. Show Up for Orientation and Class At an online university, new student orientation is – you guessed it – online. It’s usually a zero credit or a one credit hour course that’s required of every new student. Orientation covers key things you need to know in order to function in the online learning community. These things include how to access your coursework, how to contact your instructors, where you can go for help, how to connect with study groups, how to submit homework and take exams, and how to make tuition payments. You want to start off on the right foot. Orientation is the first step. The second step is to make sure you show up for class. Whether your class meets as a synchronous group each week, or once a month, it’s important to keep up with the work. Get Connected Similar to class on a traditional campus, the best way to meet people in an online campus environment is to get involved. Sure, there may not be pickup basketball games on the quad at an online university, but most quality online colleges and universities offer student portals where you can meet people who have interests similar to yours. You can browse through the various groups and join those that apply to you, for example: Army Veterans, USCG, Women in Law Enforcement, or Military Spouses. Social Media is also a fantastic way to meet and connect with others. You can “like” your university’s Facebook and LinkedIn pages and follow their Twitter feeds to stay up-to-date on news and events.  Stay the Course Statistically speaking, a quarter of all college students drop out during their first year. Your chances of success are greater if you can get past the initial jitters of the first few weeks. It takes, on average, three weeks to develop a new behavior into a habit. Give yourself time to adjust to your new routine, get your bearings, and get into the amazing journey that is the online college experience.   Guest post written by Christine Shelly Photo credit: Vito Drago   References:




  #onlinelearning #militarystudents

Military Students Can Protect Their Online Education Investment with SOC

Posted by Debi Teter
militaryauthority.com_SOC-protects-online-education-investmentWhen it comes to earning a college degree, military education benefits are only one part of the equation.  Yes, there’s a significant financial investment involved, and military tuition assistance will pay for classes online.  But the military student also puts in the time and effort to complete coursework, study and take exams. After all that effort, imagine how disappointing it would be to decide to transfer into a master’s program and learn that your credits won’t transfer. Bottom line:  College credits do not automatically transfer from program to program. This doesn’t mean that you have to decide your ultimate career or education destination this second and never change courses, ever.  It means you need to choose your online school wisely. For military students, an organization called Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges (SOC) can help. For those of you who’ve never heard of it, SOC is a network of colleges that agree to accept transfers from among their membership.  There’s a network for each branch of the military. What this means is that if you start your online degree program at a SOC school, and decide to transfer to a different SOC school, your coursework will transfer.  Before transferring, though, you should check with an advisor and your installation education office to find out if there will be any additional coursework requirements to complete your program. You can find out more about SOC here. The military provides tremendous education benefits – truly above and beyond anything most corporations might pay for their employees.  But it’s important to remember: Just because military education benefits covered the cost of your classes, your credits don’t automatically transfer to any school you want to attend.  The military doesn’t require you to attend SOC schools – but if you want the flexibility to transfer to another program without losing your credit hours, you’d be wise to stick to schools within the SOC network. If you want to find out how to get started, or to check and see if a school you’re already attending is a SOC member, contact your Educational Services Office to learn more.  You can also visit the SOC web site to research member programs.