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Mentor Advice: Remember The Little Things

Jul 20, 2016

At WGU, each student is assigned a personal faculty member to work with them as a mentor throughout their time at WGU. Additionally, each course has its own instructors, subject-matter experts who are available to help students get through course material. Advice from your mentors  and instructors is invaluable as you make your way through your online degree program. But we also want you to benefit from the wisdom of mentors not necessarily assigned to you, so occasionally, The Night Owl features advice from WGU mentors and instructors in colleges throughout the university.

You rock WGU student!!  What else can I say other than we have the best students on the planet. If you have just started your journey with us or if you have been here awhile, I want to welcome you. Going back to school means you are sacrificing family and personal time, probably working a full-time job, or taking care of a family, or many of the other life events our students typically have going on. I commend you for believing in yourself!! 

As a instructor here at WGU, I help a lot of students and often there are a few things I find myself saying over and over again. I want to share that with you now.

  1. Enjoy your time here. Often it is easy to get caught up in timelines, tasks, and assessments, but education is a gift. My Grandfather died never knowing how to read or write and he always told me how lucky I was to have my love of education. Imagine your world if you did not have these skills.  Getting an education is a privilege millions do not have access to. It is a gift, enjoy it.

  2. Look for knowledge. In competency-based education, it is expected to skip areas where you feel you already know content. However, be realistic about what you know. I hear this so often from students, “I am so glad I read that chapter. I thought I knew all there was about that topic, but I learned a few more things.” We can always learn something new.

  3. Know your timelines. We talk a lot about pacing here and for good reason. You want to finish all the courses you sign up for. You don’t want to have to pay for a course twice. All students start with good intentions, but life happens.  Here is a tool that has helped many students.  In the first week of your term, get out a planning tool.  Excel works well, but even a piece of paper. Look at all of your courses. Write down how much work is needed for each course. How many chapters are there to complete? How many pages are in each chapter? How many papers to write? How many quizzes to take, labs to complete, etc. Put all of these in your planning tool and then look at your 6-month calendar. Put dates next to completion and then take a look at that 6-months. 6-months sounds like a long time until you see what has to be done each week.  It is a great planning tool and I have heard from many students how useful this tool is.

And last, call or email your Course Instructor. Just for fun. I know this sounds odd, but we love to talk to students!   The other day, I had a 30-minute conversation with a student about JavaScript and our mutual excitement about what this language can do. Although these are not my normal conversations, I usually help answer questions about content, resources, or the assessment--I and my colleagues love to help students.

So let’s have a conversation. 

You are on a worthy journey and we are excited to help you along the way.

Connie is currently an Instructor in the College of IT and has worked for WGU for 4 years. She holds a BA in Management Information Systems and a Master’s Degree in Adult Education and Training. She was a web developer for 10 years in both the corporate world and private sector. She then spent the next 5 years teaching in higher education. Her passion is educational technology and she loves working with WGU students to help them reach their educational goals.

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