By Chelsea Madden

Going into fall 2018 quarter as new eLearning student, I had no idea what to expect. Not only was it was my first quarter as a SCAD graduate student, but it was also my first time ever taking online courses, and like most graduate students, I was doing it while working full-time.

Before the quarter even began, I participated in a few pre-quarter live sessions, traded e-mails back and forth with the financial aid office and my advisor and diligently researched (and re-researched) the M.F.A. Writing program, just in case I was missing anything. I still felt overwhelmed when classes began. I was completely exhausted after the first week of classes and I wondered if every week was going to be as stressful as the first. However, if you’re like me, you don’t stay down for too long. I spoke with one of my coworkers about my first week and what she said stuck with me: “Well if your first week was really that bad, then your second week can only be better!”

So, with those words of wisdom in mind, I was inspired to enter week two with a clear mind and a hunger to tackle every task with diligence. Though, in order to do this, I had to make some changes:

Get organized – I always considered myself to be a fairly organized person, until I became an eLearning student. eLearning courses are tough to keep up with, but they are impossible if you aren’t organized. eLearning course assignments are organized by unit and day, but they don’t have specific dates associated with assignments. Do yourself a favor and make a Unit map. You can do this in your weekly planner, or on a regular sheet of paper like I did. Write out each day of the week in the unit and fill it in with the assignments and due dates in that unit. If you prefer to print your unit to-do list from Blackboard, use Monday through Friday daily sticky notes to mark due dates in the unit.

Make your own office space at home – I was accustomed to doing my work anywhere in the house, but then I realized I would need one go-to place. eLearning students need a space to work during all hours of the day (and sometimes night). Your space doesn’t need to be a big or extravagantly decorated one. A small, simple spot will do. A space of your own will make you feel ready to work, while still having that coziness of being at home.

Venture out of the house, too – As an eLearning student, it is so easy for me to hide out at home. However, getting out of the house is good for the soul. and probably good for your brain as well. Slip on some fresh clothes and go to your favorite coffee shop or restaurant to get a little work done. A change of scenery can spark creativity, new ideas and initiate progress.

Take care of yourself – At the end of it all, don’t forget about yourself. eLearning students already lead busy lives, so when class is in session, it is extra important to find time for yourself. If you neglect yourself, you will start to neglect your other responsibilities and soon enough, things will fall through the cracks. Remember to sit back and relax – grab a book, take a bath, go out for the night. You won’t regret it.