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Tips for Easing the Transition Back-to-School Online

Posted Nov 12 2010 9:55am

Role Mommy Guest post by Jennifer ZIegenmier

As a working mom, I know the daily pressures we face -- whether it's meeting deadlines at the office or meeting the demands of home life.

In fact, a recent survey of 1,800 working and stay-at-home moms by American InterContinental University found that 90 percent of those surveyed feel increased pressure these days to contribute more to their household income. As a result, many are considering a return to school to hone their skills in order to better compete in the workforce and improve their income opportunities.

For me, the hardest thing about going back-to-school was juggling a demanding role at work that was already leaving me hard pressed for time at home in addition to pursuing my degree at the University where I was employed, which added an extra layer of pressure to succeed.

In the end, I realized that the opportunities created by furthering my education far outweighed the short-term challenges. Understanding the flexibility and convenience of an online degree program made the decision to pursue my MBA online a little bit easier, too.

If you're considering a return to school, here are some tips to ease the transition:
Establish short and long-term goals: Whether it's the goal of completing your coursework by end of week or completing your degree in a year, you need to set realistic goals for yourself. This way, you'll be less inclined to throw in the towel when you face a hectic day.

Participate fully and regularly: Online courses may be convenient, but they aren't a shortcut to education. Use the online tools available to you - chats, an online library, office hours with instructors - to get the most from your online coursework.
Set aside a study area: Since you will be attending school in a virtual classroom, stake out a study space at home, work or favorite coffee house. My favorite place to study was at the kitchen table, before anyone else was up - with a cup -- or three -- of coffee, of course.

Expect the unexpected: It's inevitable: your computer crashes the night your final paper is due. You daughter comes down with the flu the day before a homework assignment must be submitted. Life as a mom and online student requires setting reasonable deadlines for yourself so you're not scrambling at the eleventh hour and creating extra anxiety.

400_pixel_Ziegenmier.jpg Communicate with your university and network with other students: Reach out to instructors when you have questions just as you would in a live classroom environment. Check to see if the school you're considering offers a virtual commons, which can provide ways for those with similar interests to connect.
For more information, visit , where you can also apply for the AIU WomenAchieve Scholarship, which provides qualifying women financial assistance to earn a master's degree online.

Jennifer ZIegenmier is vice president of student management at American InterContinental University. She lives in Schaumburg, Ill. with her husband and 10-month-old daughter.

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