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By Brandy Dumas
WGU Student, B.A. Interdiscininary Studies K–8
WGU students are called Night Owls for a reason.
Night is the time when most of us finally have time for school. Our days are filled with jobs, family, significant others, children, and a list of other responsibilities that have nothing to do with fun. Still, we chose to go back to school knowing it would take sacrifice and might not always be easy in hopes of graduating and obtaining our degree—of having a better life and a better future!
For most of us, time will always be the biggest hurdle. There is simply never enough time for everything we want and need to do. WGU recommends studying about two hours a day. How do we find time to study as well as write papers and take proctored exams? All of this work is being done after we have already had very full days and evenings.
There are all kinds of resources out there on learning styles and time management and a bunch of things that are supposed to be quite helpful if we could figure out how to take advantage of them. Most of us don't because old habits are the hardest to break. We study the way we always have and hope for the best.
Over the years, I have learned one helpful thing: Learning is more effective in small doses. What I mean by that is this: Instead of trying to fit in two hours at once, can you find 10 or 15 minutes several times throughout the day?
At the beginning of each new course, I look over the material to get an idea of what I am dealing with. I figure how much work it takes to complete 20%. I can do 20% in one week. After five weeks, the course is completed. For the week, 20% breaks down into five days doing 4% of work and two free days. I like the free days because it leaves room open for when life happens. 4% a day is easy to accomplish. Not only does it allow time to study; it leaves time for you.
Let's say 4% is reading 12 pages and watching a video. I work, like most of us, and take breaks during the day. I use some of my break time to study. What if you read three pages? Or watched the video? I have discovered I am more likely to remember what I read if it's a smaller amount of information. I find myself thinking about what I learned while I am working. I take some time to study during my lunch hour. I may steal another 15 minutes while I am cooking dinner. This is how I find two hours in my day, 10 to 15 minutes at a time. Once I complete my 4%, I am done. Free days are free. Sometimes I review, move ahead, study, or do nothing. Some days I need them to catch up when life has gotten in the way of my plan.
We all continue on throughout our course of study, one chapter, one assignment, and one test at a time. Making the decision to return to school can be easy. The reality of school can seem daunting. We all have a goal in mind and I know we can accomplish it, one step, one class, and one moment at a time.
Brandy Dumas describes herself as a "wife, mother, cook, student, daughter, woman, friend." She is earning her bachelor's degree in Interdisciplinary Studies (K–8) while holding down a part-time job and taking care of her family. She lives in Louisiana and is very excited to become a teacher.
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