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Online Learning Requires Self-Discipline

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By Melissa Turek, October 2015

If you have never taken an online class before, this experience will be very new. In a nursing associates program, you always have a professor or a clinical instructor there to hold you accountable for your work. When you have to look them in the eye and explain why something is late or why you didn’t turn something in, it makes you think twice. Here at Utica University, the professors expect that YOU will hold YOURSELF accountable. This is particularly true in the online RN to BSN program. Because the program is designed with the working nurse in mind, the due dates are sometimes posted at the beginning of the course for work that isn’t due until the end. For instance, some classes have a large final paper or project due the last week of class. I have seen more than one student, and have been guilty myself, of procrastinating until the last minute, then rushing to try and fit six weeks of work into a few days or a week. Here’s a little tip: if the professor makes you aware of a paper or project at the beginning of a class that’s not due until the end, it is because the paper or project requires more than just a week’s worth of work. I would suggest getting started immediately on large papers or projects.

Nursing, although a team sport, requires a certain amount of independent thinking and self-discipline. The same holds true for online nursing school. The professors fit fifteen weeks of content into eight weeks of learning. As such, the pace is very fast and the work load is heavy, but certainly manageable.

The first week of your first class you will be thinking, oh my, what did I get myself into? It can be a little overwhelming seeing all of the deadlines and dues dates. But just take a breath and realize it is going to be ok. As the weeks progress, you will find a rhythm. I am a nightshift worker and thus, my typical work/school dance will be a bit different. I typically do not do school work on nights that I work. I find the stress of the night and the fatigue are not compatible with school work. So I reserve my days off for schoolwork. Some classes will require that you post to the discussion board a certain number of times a week, others will require certain days of the week. Make sure you fully understand the expectations of your professor.

I can’t tell you the best way to motivate yourself and keep yourself on track. Only you know what works and does not work for you. What I can say is that all the professors here at Utica are here to help you succeed. If you are having trouble, reach out to them. They are an amazing resource, a wealth of knowledge, and they really do care about the success of their students. Just remember, what you get out of these courses is directly related to what you put into them! Good luck and welcome to Utica University!

About the Author

Melissa is a 39-year-old, soon-to-be graduate of Utica College [now known as Utica University]. She lives and works in upstate NY, near Albany.

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