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Coping with Burnout When You Take Online Classes

Coping with Burnout When You Take Online Classes

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Start a degree program at American Public University.

By Susan Hoffman
Contributor, Online Learning Tips

Taking online classes presents a special set of challenges. Because there is no physical teacher in the same room with you, you have to exercise a high degree of discipline and log into your classroom several times a week.

There is also the challenge of getting all of the required work done on time. That work includes reading multiple chapters of textbooks, writing weekly papers, composing forum posts, completing laboratory work, and creating midterm and final papers.

With all of this work, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the many demands on your time and experience burnout. For most students, attending an online university requires good time management to maintain a proper balance among classwork, family needs, a social life and career demands.

Tips for Handling Burnout

It’s common to feel burned out, especially when you’ve been working for several years to complete a certificate or a degree. When you begin to suffer burnout, try these tips:

1. Remind yourself of your ultimate goal. Many students seek to advance their education by completing a degree they had to leave unfinished earlier in their lives. They may also want to create a better life for themselves and their children or prepare for a new career. Although it seems difficult at times to continue working on that degree or certificate, remind yourself of the joy you’ll feel when you finally receive it.

2. Divide your schoolwork into more manageable segments. When you have a quiz, a paper and forum posts to write all during the same week, divide the work into different segments and assign blocks of time to each portion. For example, study for a quiz one day and do forum posts on another day. For a paper, create a detailed outline one day, do a rough draft the next day and create the final draft on a following day.

3. Don’t skip assigned work. Although skipping one assignment or avoiding your forum posts for a week is tempting, each point contributes to your final grade. You never know — that extra point could make the vital difference between receiving an A or a B.

4. Take a brief break to recharge. When you feel mentally and physically drained, take a short break and allow yourself to relax. While you don’t want to miss any class deadlines, taking a short break to do something fun such as watching a movie or reading a novel can help to dispel the feeling of burnout.

5. Talk with your academic advisor or mentor. If you’re feeling discouraged and overburdened, they will understand your situation and can provide helpful advice to keep you motivated throughout the rest of your program. In addition, academic advisors can help you plan a realistic course schedule based on your ideal graduation date and personal commitments. They can also provide advice on course pairings to ensure that each of your sessions is balanced.

6. Get a tutor. The university library provides access to a tutoring service to help you if you’re struggling in a particular class.

7. Reward yourself at times. Set small, achievable goals and treat yourself after you accomplish each of them.

Carolyn Todaro, Associate Vice President of Academic Advising, says, “We understand the challenges that our students face; that’s why we’re so committed to helping you achieve your academic goals. It’s no small feat to juggle work, family life, community commitments, and school.

“We’re here to cheer you on and provide resources, tips, and guidance on balancing the workload to ensure your schedule fits with your life. When the going gets tough, we’re here to remind you it will all be worth it in the end. You can do it and you have a team of academic advisors who are here to support you.”

Getting a certificate or a degree is well worth the effort. Although furthering your education requires a lot of time and hard work, nothing quite compares with the triumph of holding that certificate or diploma in your hands.

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