Tips for Easing the Transition Back-to-School Online

Role Mommy Guest post by Jennifer ZIegenmier
As a working mom, I know the daily pressures we face — whether it’s meeting deadlines at the office or meeting the demands of home life.
In fact, a recent survey of 1,800 working and stay-at-home moms by American InterContinental University found that 90 percent of those surveyed feel increased pressure these days to contribute more to their household income. As a result, many are considering a return to school to hone their skills in order to better compete in the workforce and improve their income opportunities.
For me, the hardest thing about going back-to-school was juggling a demanding role at work that was already leaving me hard pressed for time at home in addition to pursuing my degree at the University where I was employed, which added an extra layer of pressure to succeed.
In the end, I realized that the opportunities created by furthering my education far outweighed the short-term challenges. Understanding the flexibility and convenience of an online degree program made the decision to pursue my MBA online a little bit easier, too.
If you’re considering a return to school, here are some tips to ease the transition:
Establish short and long-term goals: Whether it’s the goal of completing your coursework by end of week or completing your degree in a year, you need to set realistic goals for yourself. This way, you’ll be less inclined to throw in the towel when you face a hectic day.
Participate fully and regularly: Online courses may be convenient, but they aren’t a shortcut to education. Use the online tools available to you – chats, an online library, office hours with instructors – to get the most from your online coursework.
Set aside a study area: Since you will be attending school in a virtual classroom, stake out a study space at home, work or favorite coffee house. My favorite place to study was at the kitchen table, before anyone else was up – with a cup — or three — of coffee, of course.
Expect the unexpected: It’s inevitable: your computer crashes the night your final paper is due. You daughter comes down with the flu the day before a homework assignment must be submitted. Life as a mom and online student requires setting reasonable deadlines for yourself so you’re not scrambling at the eleventh hour and creating extra anxiety.
400_pixel_Ziegenmier.jpgCommunicate with your university and network with other students: Reach out to instructors when you have questions just as you would in a live classroom environment. Check to see if the school you’re considering offers a virtual commons, which can provide ways for those with similar interests to connect.
For more information, visit, where you can also apply for the AIU WomenAchieve Scholarship, which provides qualifying women financial assistance to earn a master’s degree online.
Jennifer ZIegenmier is vice president of student management at American InterContinental University. She lives in Schaumburg, Ill. with her husband and 10-month-old daughter.