Education

Do you have a Master’s degree? I’m sure some of you do. In today’s economy, it can make the difference between getting by and getting ahead. If you want to take the step toward a Master’s (or any level) degree, I encourage you to do so. There are, however, a number of things to consider.

How many classes can you handle each semester? Can you manage your time well? Can you stick to a schedule to complete online classes? Do you need face-to-face interaction with your instructor and/or classmates? How can you pay for it all? Let me tell you what I think after having spent the last two years doing homework.

I am taking all my classes online. A colleague advised me to take one per semester. I didn’t listen. I generally take two classes per semester. Last summer I took three. Why? I want to graduate and improve my family’s economy. I also love to learn!

Paying for those classes can be difficult, as anyone can tell you. There are resources available. Make friends with the college’s financial aid people. You might qualify for a TEACH Grant or at least some Stafford loans. Now set aside the costs for the moment.

Time is another important factor. When I’m online doing my assignments or spending hours (literally) reading to prepare for assignments, I am missing out on something else that I consider important—family time. Luckily, my “baby” is almost 16. She could fend for herself if she really had to. She can cook and get her homework done without a lot of input from me. That doesn’t mean I’m expendable!

Another crucial detail is getting a good professor. It’s a bit like buying a lottery ticket! Some days you win, some days you lose. A good professor (to me) is one that understands that his/her students are adults with jobs and families. I do well if I have a deadline, but when push comes to shove, my family always wins. Period. If that means a point deduction on a late assignment, so be it. That being said, a good instructor will make certain “emergency” allowances for extenuating circumstances. I know an emergency is not a weekly thing, so when I have an emergency, I expect some sort of cooperation. A good professor will know the difference between a demanding level of coursework and a ridiculous level of requirements. In all classes there are certain requirements. I call it jumping through hoops. Assignments are designed to make it appear to outsiders that the class is rigorous and valuable when, in fact, it is a list of semi-meaningless tasks to be marked as “done.” Nothing is more frustrating. The best classes will have a reasonable amount of work that is meaningful. Meaningful assignments are readily applied to real-life situations. You can use what you learn immediately to impact your job performance.

Research the college before deciding. Take time to check out the professors you are likely to encounter. You want people who are approachable, professional and HUMAN. Listen to students who are (or have been) enrolled in the program that interests you. Word of mouth advertising is the best.

Overall, I have had a positive experience with online classes. Most of my professors have been awesome experts in their fields of study. We can chat about the rest of them later. 🙂

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