The Pioneer Post

The Pioneer Post is a resource for online students that provides tips and information about distance education.


Monday, September 15, 2008

by Colleen Armstrong

When I first thought about going back to college for my master’s degree, I was working full time in the Los Angeles area, with a job that required travel. Missing classes due to travel, driving to and from the college, attending classroom lectures, and the various assignments were going to reduce my already minimal free time. I pondered the idea for nearly one year when I found my answer at the PMI Congress—UWP offered an on-line Master of Science in Project Management degree. Even with the elimination of driving to and from the college, I knew there would be sacrifices.

Helpful hits to help reduce the pain:

  1. Time Management—be realistic
    1. Postpone extra curricular activities. (I couldn’t do it all!)
    2. Review the course outline immediately and schedule time to complete the work.
    3. Complete course work early when needed. (e.g. business travel, family commitments, etc.).
    4. For group activities, volunteer to be the first person in the group to be the project manager (or lead)—get it over with and set the tone for a successful assignment.
    5. Take time before each group assignment to organize how you will communicate (including posting threads) and coordinate the assignment (including the use of version control).
  2. Communication—very powerful
    1. Understand that everyone is different. When working in groups, establish ground rules agreed upon by the group (people who like to finish early will be frustrated by those who wait to the last minute).
    2. Be careful with email. More than likely you have never met the people in your virtual class, therefore emails could be misunderstood.
    3. Be sensitive to others. Understand that there may be emergencies or reasons for a member to miss a deadline. Volunteer to help—you never know when you will need a little help.
  3. Assistance—reach out!
    1. Reduce your anxiety by talking to others if you are overwhelmed or concerned. It is amazing how many others have the same concerns.
    2. Take advantage of the network. UWP has an amazing network of people to contact, including: instructors, advisors, other students, Student Advisory Board, and Alumni Advisory Board.

Throughout my master’s program I gained more than knowledge and a sense of accomplishment; I gained friends, an extended business network, and a better appreciation of working in a virtual environment. After finishing my degree, several exciting work assignments were available, along with the compensation for my efforts. Yes, the UWP on-line program was worth all of the long hours and juggling of schedules.



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