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Making Time for School

nicole alexander

By Nicole Alexander, NU Scholar (April 2018 Cohort)
Master of Science, School Psychology with PPSC School Psychology
https://portfolium.com/nicolealexande4

Most of us here at National are attempting the impossible, the school-work-family juggle. But I assure you, it’s possible. Find your motivation and really get to know yourself, and you can crush it. My motivation is my two daughters. I want to raise strong, fearless, hard-working women and the best way I can think of is to practice what I preach. Find what keeps you going, because when you’re writing a report at 1 am and you have to get up for work at five, you’re going to need it. Once you are good and fired up, get to know yourself. Here are some things I’ve discovered about myself: I can’t study at Starbucks because I get too distracted by people-watching, my brain stops functioning at 11 pm, I do my best work with a side of sushi, and studying in bed = naptime. Once motivation and self-awareness are ironed out, you can focus on figuring how to override the laws of the space-time continuum and manage to get it all done. If physics isn’t your thing, here are a few tips to salvage some time for coursework without abandoning your family and your sanity:

1. #to-do-to-done  

This may come as a bit of a shock, but not everyone uses a planner… I know, it’s crazy. I can barely brush my teeth without my planner. Not only does it keep me from forgetting important dates, it houses my bevy of to-do lists. Yes, lists. I make daily and weekly goals that fit perfectly into their corresponding days. I also find it helpful to make a separate work list, school list, and home list. OK, maybe I’m the crazy one, but it’s easier to accomplish a few things per day than stare at one formidable, mile-long list. Many prefer having it all in their phone—I’ve tried it, it’s not for me. I do however like the “Stickies” program on my laptop for my to-do lists, if you’re the techy-type.

2. #solvesmallproblems 

This trick is definitely my favorite. Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t accomplish any significant progress in my school work in those little intervals while on my lunchbreak, or waiting at the DMV, or while helping my kids with homework. I can, however, schedule that dentist appointment, or pay my phone bill, or drop that bag off at Salvation Army that’s been in my trunk for a month. Solving small problems throughout the day will clear your mind, your to-do list, your car, and your schedule for more meaningful chunks of study time later. Added bonus: the tiny rushes of adrenaline from accomplishing tasks will build momentum for that report that’s waiting for you to write it.

3. #sorrynotsorry 

Caution, this one can become addicting. Say no. Sounds simple? It’s not. This one is H-A-R-D but worth it and quite liberating. I enjoy painting, and baking, and creating. So, when someone appreciates my talents and asks me to help them paint their living room or bake my (amazing) cookies for a party, I struggle to say no. But there are only so many hours in a day, and it’s OK to put your priorities first. You have decided to accomplish the amazing feat of going to college, put some other stuff on the back burner, and go with the store-bought cookies.

4. #adultingishard 

Having fun is important in maintaining mental health. Definitely make time for guilt-free frivolity but be sure to get the work done first. How much fun can you really have with that deadline looming over you while you’re trying to bowl a perfect game?

5. #igetbywithalittlehelp 

If you are a college student with no job and no kids, congratulations, please go enjoy a nap on my behalf. If you’re like me, you have kids and they are adorable –but– physically, literally, metaphorically, emotionally and mentally preventing you from getting any work done. TGFG – Thank God For Grandma. Chances are, she’s super proud of you for going to college, and maybe willing to take the children away for an afternoon so you can accomplish something other than snack detail??

6. #childswap 

No grandma? Another awesome way to get some child-free time is the neighbor swap. I was lucky enough to have a neighbor with kids similar in age to mine, and we would swap kids. I would take all the kids for two hours, then she would take them for two hours. When you already have one or two of your own, what’s two more? Playdates keep the kids entertained, and you get work time without putting anyone out or paying for a sitter! Swapping is also a good alternative for when you’re contemplating getting rid of your kids all-together. (JOKING…mostly)

7. #theresanappforthat 

Utilize resources. I know, everybody says that, but actually do it. I once had a gal from the writing center sit on the phone with me for over an hour while I re-wrote a paper. Need a resume? Well, Chris in the career center can tell you that yours is missing an objective, has too many bullet points, and your name is spelled wrong. Not only do these resources offer priceless feedback, but having a scheduled appointment provides accountability and is one more step in getting those items crossed off the aforementioned to-do lists.

8. #strikewhiletheironshot  

You won’t like this one, sorry. Usually the last thing I want to do after five hours in class is open that computer back up, but when the information is fresh, the work is easier and faster. And what a great feeling to have something done long before it’s due.

9. #dropitlikeitshot 

You will like this one, you’re welcome. When I’ve been wrestling over a single paragraph for the better part of an hour accomplishing virtually nothing, I give myself permission to close my computer and walk away. Even though it still needs to get done, I can make better use of my time and re-visit when I’ve given myself a brain break.

 

 

nursing, Online

Taking online classes

By Tera Voss, NU Scholar (July 2018 Cohort)
Bachelor of Science, Nursing
https://portfolium.com/TeraVoss

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Ah, the joys of modern technology. How amazing is it that we can get an education at home? If you’re like me, your life is busy. You may have chosen to go to college in the not-so-traditional way, and now you have kids, work, and a house to maintain. Or perhaps you’re fresh out of high school, and an online class is a whole new world for you. I’m here to tell you the major benefits of online classes, as well as tips for being just as successful as you would be on campus.

agenda-appointment-business-1020323.jpg1. Freedom to schedule your days as you please.
There’s something to be said for attending class in the comfort of your own home, in your pajamas. Seriously, I consider this a very valuable gift. If you’re a morning person, you can get your schoolwork done in the morning. If you’re a night owl, you can go about your day, and attend to your classwork at night. This is the beauty of online classes. You have the freedom to decide when you “go to class.” But be cautious: self-discipline is the key to success in managing your workload from home. Choose the best time for you and commit to it.

Tip for Success: Get yourself a planner (or Google Calendar if you prefer paperless). Go through your syllabus as soon as it is available to you, and write down all of your deadlines for assignments. Always plan ahead, and work ahead when you can!
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2. More time spent at home with family.
This is my personal favorite factor of online classes. I am a single mom to a toddler. Not only do I need eyes on her at all times (because she’s really into exploring everything right now), but the time I spend with her is valuable, and I can never get it back. Even if you’re not a parent, work-life balance is so important. Online classes allow you to be home, be present, and still accomplish your goals.

Tip for Success: Make sure your family understands that you need to set aside uninterrupted time for school, and work with them to find out what time is best to accomplish this (for me, I work when my daughter sleeps). Having everyone be on the same page makes for a much smoother and more productive day.

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3. No commuting. Ever.
Who doesn’t love to save on gas? Who doesn’t love attending their desired school while living in another state? Who doesn’t love traveling!? This is such a cool thing about technology. We can learn and work towards a degree, and the classmates who participate and interact with each other can be anywhere in the world, so long as they have internet and computer access. This is especially beneficial for are active duty military, military families, or anyone who has to travel often.

Tip for Success: If youre on-the-go, try uploading your school schedule to an app, and make sure you can access email and other important class information from your phone.

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The most important thing to remember about online classes, and college classes in general, is that the level of success you achieve is entirely up to you, and the effort you put inMy hope is that these tips will guide you in a positive direction, and you will feel confident in forging the path of online class success. 

adult learner, nursing, Parents

Returning to school after a hiatus

Deborah Chambers_DSC07346

By Deborah Nabubwaya Chambers, NU Scholar (July 2018 Cohort)
Master’s in Public Healthcare Administration

I grew up in Nairobi, Kenya and did my undergraduate program in Psychology at Daystar University. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in 2007, I wanted to continue with my education, but unfortunately, due to life events and other family responsibilities, I could not return to school as soon as I had planned.

After relocating to the United States in 2011, I finally enrolled in some prerequisites to complete courses that would make it possible for me to pursue a nursing degree. One of those classes was an epidemiology class, and I instantly had an epiphany that public health was exactly what I wanted to pursue. I had finally found a field that connected all of my interests in nursing, healthcare in general, and community development. My desire to help others, work in healthcare, and support underserved communities would still be supported by pursuing public health. I searched for graduate programs that I could pursue online while I continued working night shifts at a hospital in West Texas.

A little over 8 years later, I was back in school as an adult learner. I started my first class just before my family and I relocated to Illinois for work. Subsequently, I decided to be a stay-at-home mother and pursue my graduate degree in public health.

Returning to school in 2015 after a hiatus was certainly not an easy decision. It meant giving up a lot of free time and balancing everything to meet my educational goals. I did my assignments whenever I got a chance, at odd hours like during my children’s nap times and after they went to bed at night. No matter how busy I was, I made sure that I did school work every day so that I would not fall behind. Pursuing an accelerated program meant giving it my all right from the beginning, and I took classes almost every month for two years. My oldest child knows how to do a good impression of me using the computer to scale the mountains of assignments and research papers. One of my proudest moments of being an adult learner was taking my entire family to my graduation in San Diego.

Throughout my program, my family kept cheering me on, and gave me wings to fly. My oldest son tells me daily that he is so proud of me and that he wants to be like me. He says he wants to go to school and type on the computer like mama and help sick people. I know that I am positively impacting my family members’ lives, as well as the lives of many others in my community who will benefit from the global and community health research that I am actively participating in. This is all thanks to the knowledge and opportunities that I have received while attending school at National University.

After graduating in 2017, I still desired to advance my career and learn more, returning to school to pursue National University’s healthcare administration program. Even though I have been successful in an accelerated program before, I continue learning every day about how to balance my work, family, and school responsibilities. It has not always been easy but every challenge has made it a growth experience that is nothing short of marvelous. Who knew I would absolutely enjoy school this much?

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adult learner, Community College, Parents, Transfer

The Transfer Experience

By Jiaunna Arnell, NU Scholar (July 2018 Cohort)
Bachelor of Arts, Early Childhood Education

I was lucky that my transfer experience from Miramar College (a community college) to National University was fairly smooth.  As a student who has successfully completed this transition, I wanted to share a little bit about what I think helped me.

Someone once told me that “C’s get degrees.” However, my mother, along with folks from institutions that I was engaged with in my youth, made it clear that I needed to always do my very best. I been never been the type of student who can comfortably rest on just getting by, and I think that this commitment to going the extra mile has helped me to succeed. While I was a community college student, I also took advantage of EOPS and CalWORKs, two state-funded programs that helped me to create personalized education plans based on my goals, progress, and major.

My counselor at Miramar College was a huge source of support. From the moment I set foot in her office, she made me feel appreciated and valuable to the Miramar College student family. She also reminded me about events like transfer fairs, where various institutions come out to present for their respective universities. Especially if you have an idea of the university that you plan to attend, keeping in the know regarding changes or opportunities at your university of choice is very important, and deciding which one you want to attend long before you plan to transfer is really helpful.

Researching the university of your choice, taking tours, and visiting the campus are all good ways to decide whether or not it is right for you. Once you have chosen a university, this makes the rest of the process fairly simple, because you know exactly what you need to get into that particular university.

My mother is an alumnus of National University, and has a bachelor’s degree in a similar field, so I knew that National University was going to be my four-year university from the start.

Once all of these elements—determination, support, and a target university—are in place, the real work comes in maintaining your grades, building good relationships with faculty (who can help you by writing letters of reference and by offering support), looking into grants and scholarships to lighten the financial load, and, above all, making the commitment to focus on school first: School has to be your top priority in every way possible. I love Miramar College and I am so glad that I was a student there, and I am also so excited to be at National University. For people who have to balance being parents and students with working full time, National University is a god-send for expanding our academic horizons in relation to our lifestyles, responsibilities, and career goals. I love being a part of the National University family, and I can’t wait to see what the rest of this experience brings to my academic and professional growth.