“So much to do, so little time”–it is one of the many conundrums online learners face. Yet, many adult learners strive to incorporate so many activities into their daily schedules. They want to accomplish everything within the week. However, similar to a mechanical motor running, our brains need rest; otherwise, we will suffer burnout, which is not a good thing because it leads to sickness. If we are doing too many activities, some things will have to give, such as quality and performance. Similarly, deciding on how much of a course work load you are able to handle boils down to knowing what other life responsibilities you have going on.
To prevent a burnout from taking its toll on you it is a good idea to relax your mind and engage in other passive activities. For example, you can surf the Web or watch YouTube videos; whether they’re educational or not is up to you. You can also listen to podcasts to catch up on current events. This way you can achieve some type of balance in your life so that you can manage your course load.
Undergraduate online learners register for 8-week courses, so you should expect to commit about 18 hours each week to completing coursework, which includes reading time. And if you are a graduate student pursuing a master’s or a professional degree, then more time should be allotted (about 22 hours each week).
So, should you take more than two courses concurrently? Consider this: A typical adult online learner has a 40-hour per week job; and personal responsibilities such as family and chore times, which takes up about 20 hours; and also sleeping and resting time, which requires another 60 hours each week. And remember, there’s only 168 hours in a week! In that scenario, which does not even include commute time, an undergraduate student should not enroll in more than two classes, assuming each class is an 8-week course. And as for graduate students, it would be wise not to register for more than one class per 8-week course.
Many might argue that they are skilled at multitasking and can handle more coursework. Besides, isn’t that what most employers sought after when hiring potential candidates? Unfortunately, multitasking is not what it is cracked up to be and is overrated. In an article written in Inc.com, neuroscientists observed that each side of the brain handles a different task when two tasks are simultaneously focused on. “This suggests a two-task limit on what the human brain can handle. Taking on more tasks increases the likelihood of errors” (Lapowsky, 2013). Therefore, if you want to perform well in each of your courses and not have to sacrifice quality education, it is better to stay within the above suggested guidelines. Learning is not a sprint, but a life-long marathon.
By Houn Kang
Online Learning Tips, Special Student Contributor