Start a psychology degree at American Military University.
By Kathryn Hill
Master’s Student, Psychology, American Military University
The past eight weeks have been the most nerve-wracking time of my education. During that time, I completed my master’s capstone course, which involved researching and writing a large thesis of more than 30 pages.
This was by far the most challenging assignment I have had to complete, because it involved including information from classes I hadn’t taken in more than two years. Also, I had to include at least 24 academic articles. This was the longest paper I had ever had to write.
I wrote my thesis during the holidays, which included my children’s school break and family visits. Also, my husband left for deployment, which required us to take the time to sit down and work out how our family’s life would be handled in his absence.
It might seem impossible to handle so many activities and write a thesis, but I did it.
Writing a Thesis for Online Classes Requires Organization and Time Management
Writing a thesis or any other type of class assignment involves considerable work. But I learned from the experience and improved my skills in time management and organization.
It isn’t always easy for online students to balance their careers, family responsibilities and classes. Here are three important tips to help you when school, work and household obligations collide:
- Plan ahead – On the first day of class, I looked at the syllabus, the gradebook, the assignments tab and the forums tab in the online classroom. I wrote down the due dates for EVERY assignment, forum post and forum reply post.
Then I compared those due dates to my personal schedule to find times when I had nothing scheduled. I used those open windows to work ahead on my assignments.
For forums, I looked at the instructor’s prompt and completed the required work in a Word document. When I reached the corresponding week, I simply copied the text and pasted it into the forum. When I came to a week when I had an assignment to turn in, I did so.
- Ask for help – Most of us have a hard time asking for help. Sometimes, however, it’s necessary to seek assistance.
When I finished the first draft of my thesis, I turned for help to some trusted friends. I asked for their feedback regarding grammar, flow and clarity.
It didn’t matter that they had no knowledge of my topic. If they understood what I wrote, that would prove to me that I had written the thesis well enough for anyone to understand. When I had their feedback, I made the appropriate changes to my thesis.
- Take care of your physical and mental health – Education can be stressful when there is a lot going on in your life. But education can be even more stressful if you’re taking a class that can make or break your whole academic career.
Stress can lead to many adverse reactions such as health complications. There is a saying that “You can’t feed someone from an empty plate.” I made sure my “mental plate” was full.
When I needed a break, I took one. There were times when I made myself get up and take a break after hours of writing. I made sure to get adequate sleep, water and good food. I took relaxing baths and went to the gym. I made sure my mind and body were as sound as they could be, so I could pay the required attention to my thesis.
What constitutes self-care varies from person to person, but it is important to everyone. We have to make sure that we take care of ourselves, so we can take care of those around us.
It is entirely possible that I was actually more stressed and frantic than I let on to others during my thesis writing. But I survived the process and I am already looking around the next bend in my academic river.
About the Author
Kathryn Hill is a Master of Psychology student at AMU. She is a part-time doula who is interested in incorporating contemporary psychology issues into her practice. Kathryn has a bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies from AMU and an associate degree in Spanish from the Defense Language Institute.