6 Tips to Succeed in Online Learning from Student-Moms

Balancing motherhood and a career is already tough enough. But throwing school into the mix? It’s easy to get overwhelmed between transporting children to after-school activities, preparing work presentations and writing research papers.

To do it all, many working moms choose to continue their education online. Take Florida Tech graduate Elonda Williams:

“As a single parent of an honor student/athlete, and a full-time employee, flexibility with regard to my education so that I could continue to address other life requirements was high priority. Online courses offered the flexibility I needed to continue to be mom, team mom, employee and student without neglecting my responsibilities in any category.”

Williams earned her BA in Business Administration Accounting as a member of the Class of 2014.

Despite the flexibility and convenience offered by a 100% online degree program, it’s still a serious commitment that requires time management, dedication and hard work. Here’s some advice from Williams and other moms who accomplished this balancing act while advancing their education online at Florida Tech.

Tip #1: Maximize Your Downtime

Using downtime to read case studies, listen to lectures and outline papers can help you accomplish more. As Jody Thrash, Class of 2015, says, “If you know when you have time to spare for some downtime, you won’t feel so overwhelmed when things are due.”

For example, Robin Davis-Thrasher, Class of 2014, would bring her textbooks to study at her children’s athletic events. “They saw the sacrifice; they saw the late nights. It wasn’t easy, but nothing in life is easy.”

These moms, graduates of the MBA in Project Management program, know that managing their time appropriately and using every spare minute adds up.

Tip #2: Stick to a Schedule

Developing a schedule that fits and keeping to it is essential. As Thrash, a working mother of three, says, “You need to find a schedule that works for you – for me, it was getting the majority of my work done during the week at night – and stick to that schedule.”

Yvell Simmons, Class of 2014, studied with her children around the kitchen table. “Keep a detailed schedule of what needs to be read, what’s due and by when,” advises the BA in Applied Psychology graduate, a full-time worker and mother of six.

Tip #3: Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

While it is impressive to be able to juggle these tasks all at once, relying on family and friends for support can be a lifesaver. “Without the support of my family I don’t think it would be possible,” Simmons said. She relied on her husband for “all the laundry, food shopping, kids’ doctors’ appointments, the afterschool activities transportation and house cleaning.”

Knowing when to ask for assistance is a strength, not a sign of weakness.

Tip #4: Plan Ahead

With discussion board posts and quizzes to complete weekly in most classes, you need to “plan ahead as much as possible,” Thrash says.

Simmons echoes this advice: “Plan your weeks and keep up with your syllabus – read your syllabus. Don’t think that just because it’s online it’s easy, because the professors are for real and the grades are for real. Don’t fall behind on the work because it can pile up pretty fast.”

Tip #5: Make the Most of It

In your educational experience, “You get out of it what you put in,” Simmons said.

Making the most of your time is essential to maximizing the benefits of going to school. Thrash’s advice? “Read the books and suggested readings. Immerse yourself in the learning experience as much as you can. You only get the one shot at it!”

Tip #6: Remember Your Inspiration

If you’re ever stressed or going through a rough patch, remembering your inspiration for your journey can revitalize your focus. For many mothers, their children inspire them to complete their educational goals. “They were my motivation,” said MBA grad Crystal Wilson, Class of 2013. “I do it all for them.”

For Thrash, the motivation is similar:

“My kids are my inspiration. When I see all the potential and passion they have, it makes me want to be an inspiration right back to them. So I work hard to be a good example for them. I want to provide them with more and, to do so, I need to have a successful career that I am happy with.”

Simmons said she and her kids encourage each other. “They see that I can succeed by getting good grades, and that pushes and inspires them to push for good grades as well.”

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