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Megan Tatar

The Real Life of an Online Student

I've learned a few tips and tricks that have helped me get my homework done while raising a toddler and working full-time.

I have worked in healthcare my entire life, and I can’t see myself working in any other field. I started out as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) in a long-term care facility and later worked in the Intensive Care Unit at my local hospital. Today, I am a scheduler for a home health agency that specializes in pediatrics. I absolutely love my job and the clients I work with daily.

In 2012, I enrolled in the Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management program at Herzing University. I am a single mom of two children – a 5-year-old girl and a 4-month-old boy – and I wanted to advance my career so that I could continue to provide for my family. I work full-time in addition to raising my children, so I wasn’t able to commit to a full-course schedule on campus Monday-Friday. An online program offered just the flexibility I needed.

Being a single mom and working a full-time definitely hasn’t been easy and I have faced many challenges in the last five years that I have attended school. However, I’ve also learned a few tips and tricks that help me get my homework done (and maintain my sanity) while raising a toddler and working full-time.

Fit school in where you can

My day-to-day is never the same. Between my weekly work schedule and my daughter’s gymnastics schedule and Girl Scouts events every Tuesday and Thursday evening, it’s not always easy to find time for homework. Aside from all of that, I also have to manage the crazy schedule of my 4-month-old son. Usually, I can fit my online classes in after my 5-year-old goes to bed. I do my homework while my daughter visits with her father every other weekend and when my son is taking five-minute naps – literally.

Communicate with your professors and classmates

Communication is key when it comes to online learning. Do not be afraid to contact your instructor via email or telephone and do not hesitate to ask for help from the academic tutors your school makes available. In my opinion, they are your biggest resources, as well as your fellow classmates.

At times, it may not feel like you are attending college because you are doing it all online and at your own pace. If you feel this way, get involved with the student discussions on Facebook and LinkedIn. I felt like I was a failure because I was not able to attend school in person, but once I joined my school’s social media groups, I was able to participate in discussions with my fellow classmates and feel that sense of camaraderie and support.

Create a designated study spot

It is important to have a dedicated study space to save yourself from distractions, like the loads of laundry in the living room that need to be folded or a sink full of dishes that need to be washed. The quietest time in my house is early mornings or late evenings, when my kids are sleeping. I take my studying to the couch or my bed because that is where I am most relaxed and comfortable.

Online learning is great for me and my family because I can choose when to study or complete my homework, and I still have all the time I need to care for my family. I love online learning because I can work my school schedule around my family time and work a full-time job to provide for my family.

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* Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics 2023 / Occupational Outlook Handbook 2022. BLS estimates do not represent entry-level wages and/or salaries. Multiple factors, including prior experience, age, geography market in which you want to work and degree field, will affect career outcomes and earnings. Herzing neither represents that its graduates will earn the average salaries calculated by BLS for a particular job nor guarantees that graduation from its program will result in a job, promotion, salary increase or other career growth.

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