Eat healthy. Show up to work on time. Spend quality time with your kids. Make home-cooked dinners. Sleep eight hours each night. Sign up for a yoga class. Make time to volunteer. Get plenty of fluids!
Why does being a person sometimes feel so overwhelming? For a student taking online classes, the idea of balancing all the components of a healthy lifestyle with work, kids, friends, and online classes seems impossible. Many students pursuing online education identify the greatest obstacle as time. Is there a way to perfectly balance all aspects of life? What does it take to find success in the online learning experience while juggling everything else?
For Grace College Online students: Tracy LeGrow, Lynn House, Jennifer Hansen, and Kenisha Smith, taking on so many responsibilities has been challenging, but these four have found tips and tricks to have an enjoyable, rewarding online learning experience.
Maximize Your Time
Tracy LeGrow is a graduate student in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program. She anticipates graduating in 2024 – about the same time her oldest daughter graduates high school! For LeGrow, taking online classes has been just one of her many responsibilities, including being a full-time mom and full-time employee.
“Something I am working on is being intentional with my time and giving myself specific time frames for working so that when that time is up, I stop regardless of if I’m finished or not,” LeGrow says.
Maximizing time is essential for LeGrow. Wherever she goes, she takes some reading material with her to take advantage of the waiting periods. Although it has taken a lot of strategy and focus, LeGrow has no regrets about pursuing an online learning experience.
“One of the benefits of online learning is that I have more flexibility. Frankly, it has made me take more responsibility for my education. It takes a lot of self-discipline, but it has been absolutely worth the effort.”
For Lynn House, an online counseling student, balancing work, family, and education takes a lot of planning ahead. As the Vice President of Marketing and Enrollment at Herron Classical Schools and mom of four boys, she decided that the online learning experience would be best for her. With such a demanding job, she has to exercise a lot of discipline.
“I work on school a little bit each day and during the weekend,” House shares.”In order to spend time with my boys when they are home for a weekend or a break, I have to work ahead to be sure I can engage with them. I know that if I want to do something special, I have to really plot out my schedule so I can get it all finished.”
What’s House’s secret? Staying organized! House keeps one master calendar for work, school, and play so she knows just how much time she needs to allocate to each of her demands. This organization has allowed House to enjoy time with those who matter most without compromising her education.
Combining career, family, and education was a huge undertaking for Jennifer Hansen. Hansen’s husband is in the U.S. Air Force, so she and her family reside in Omaha at Offutt Air Force Base. In addition to being a mom of a nine-year-old and eight-year-old, Hansen is an executive board member of a local non-profit organization, a co-leader for a ministry for military moms, and a family liaison to the NAOC commander on base.
As if all of these things were not keeping her busy enough, Hansen decided to further her education in the counseling program through Grace College Online. She is entering the final year of her online learning experience.
One of the biggest challenges that Hansen has faced is the emotional and mental heaviness that comes with being a counselor-in-training.
“I’ve had to learn how to make space for myself and ensure self-care,” Hansen shared. “What is helpful is that most of the faculty is great about reminding the students about the importance of self-care, and some even assign it as homework!”
For those considering going back to school and assuming a full schedule of responsibilities, Hansen has some advice: “Be flexible and gracious to yourself. There will be weeks when you have it all together and things are going great. There will also be weeks when you feel rushed and disorganized. Both of these scenarios are okay!”
Keep Your Priorities in Line
Prioritize your priorities. Kenisha Smith has made this her mantra as she has balanced being in a steady relationship, raising children, and working full-time in the social work field. Smith is finishing up her final year at Grace and is looking forward to graduating next May.
“As a mom, employee, and student, know when you need to take a break,” says Smith. “Don’t be afraid to take time off, slow down, or take a vacation with your family. My advisor always puts it this way: ‘Prioritize your priorities.’ Sometimes my top priority is finishing an important assignment, so I stay in and work while my kids play outside. Other times, my priority is attending my daughter’s cheer competition, knowing that schoolwork can wait. Either way, it’s important to be willing to prioritize what is important, even if that means making sacrifices.”
Smith doesn’t just hear about priorities from her professors, she watches them live them out.
“My advisor was going through some pretty serious personal family battles. She stayed strong with her students, but also told us about what was going on. When she needed a break, she took it. This inspired me because it allowed me to see my professor practice what she preaches. She made a commitment to be a professor, but when her family needed her, she prioritized that priority.”
Interested in exploring the benefits of online learning for yourself? Begin the journey today with Grace College Online!