For the online university student, the winter holiday season can be a tough time to stay on track with your school work.
There are many reasons for this: Family, friends, parties, and shopping take up more and more of our time as the holidays approach. You may work in retail or another industry that gets especially busy in November and December. Maybe the short, dark days and cold, gloomy weather are sapping your energy.
But whatever the reasons, the fact remains: A well-planned approach to your online degree program has to take into consideration that the end of the year requires some special effort to stay motivated – or, for some students, a re-evaluation of just how much it’s realistic to expect of yourself this time of year.
In a recent Twitter and Facebook poll, we asked WGU students how the holidays impacts their schoolwork. The most popular response (38%) said that studying takes a back seat to time with family, and another 16% give themselves a break from studying this time of year. But for 21%, taking a break is out of the question no matter how nice it would be, and 18% actually find more time to study because of time off from work.
No matter what situation you find yourself in, you can find some encouragement and helpful hints from your fellow students. We asked WGU’s Facebook fans how they handle the holidays:
Debi: "The only way I can stay focused this time of year is if I go to the public library with my laptop – they have free wi-fi. Then I can more easily focus without anything around the house or my to-do list for the holidays bugging me.”
Shana: "Set reasonable and achievable goals during the holiday season (and all year!). I write out my goals for the week on Monday morning and cross them off as I reach them. This can help during high-stress times (like the holidays) because you can see that you are achieving, even if the achievements are little goals. And you stay motivated to keep going."
Denise: "It’s important to find balance. For some of us, this time of year may be the only time of year we get to see our loved ones and spend time with them. Time with your loved ones is priceless, but your education is important too. Make a schedule or set aside some time just for studying. Let your loved ones know it's important that you aren't interrupted during this time."
Diana: "I plan for a week break over Thanksgiving and another one over Christmas. I feel it’s important for my children, husband and myself to have my all at home instead of studying all the time. Plus I want to enjoy my children. They are only little once and we can’t get that time back."
David: "That is why I tried so hard to knock out so many credits before the holidays. I am already done with 19 credits so I can coast a little through the holidays."
LouAnn: "This is easy. The motivation is the gift you are giving yourself with your education. Finish one more task, one more class and that is one step closer to the gift of your degree, which is not only a gift to yourself but your entire family!"
Amy: “There are three things I do when I start dragging my feet. First I set smaller tasks to accomplish. If I start accomplishing something, it raises my motivation level. Second, I reward myself for completing tasks. Satisfaction in a job well done is great, but sometimes saying if I do this then I will earn a sushi dinner (for big tasks) or a bubble bath or computer goof-off time (for smaller tasks) gives me a tangible prize to work for and claim. Lastly, my mentor is awesome and a great motivator. Just knowing I have to talk to her and tell her if I didn’t do anything is great motivation."
John: "I am ordering everything online and shipping directly to the recipients. Eating out for the holidays saves time as well."
What are your tips? Be sure to leave your comments below!