By Elizabeth Rittiman - April 30th, 2015
Going back to school online after being out of the swing of things for a decade can seem really intimidating, but is it actually as scary as you make it out in your head?
I knew that to get ahead in my career, I needed to further my education. I’m a big believer in both personal and professional development, and with that I believe one’s educational journey should never end.
I have to admit; when I first started taking a master’s class online through CSU Global I was terrified. It had been over a decade since I had been in school. And when I was last in school working towards my undergrad I took two classes online and it was not fun or easy.
Rediscovering My Love of Learning
I can still remember those first few months right after I graduated college in 2004. It felt so strange not to be going to class everyday and not learning something new all the time. Granted, at the time I worked in television news, so I was still learning about current events on a daily basis. I think that helped with the weirdness a bit, but it did feel really odd.
I mean, think about it. Most of us from the time we’re in preschool, or at least kindergarten, spend two decades going to school and learning almost every day. And then all of a sudden, that stops.
Now I find myself suddenly thrust back into that world after being out of school for 10 years. Thankfully, things have changed in the world of online education since I last took an online course. While I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s easy, it is certainly not as complicated to figure out as it was back then. The learning management system is much more user friendly. I’m taking Dynamics of Power in Organizational Leadership. Just the name of the class sounds daunting to me. However, it hasn’t been. In fact (and this may sound nerdy), I’d forgotten just how much I enjoy learning.
Writing Papers is Fun??? (gasp!)
I admitted to my classmates on the first day of class in our get-to-know-each-other discussion board that I was nervous. Everyone was so nice! Everyone, including our class instructor, said “Don’t be nervous!” or “If you need any help just ask me.” Our instructor, by the way, has been incredible. Dr. Cal has responded to every one of my emails very quickly and has been great at giving me guidance when I’ve had questions. And I’ve really had a chance to get to know my classmates. You might think when you’re online that you’re alone, but that’s not true. I know my classmates, what they look like, what they do for a living. I know which ones are most likely to post first and respond the fastest.
I’m actually really enjoying my class and have enjoyed writing most (but not all) of the papers assigned. For instance, I’ve written about Virgin CEO and founder, Richard Branson, whose adventurous, entrepreneurial spirit fascinates me. Did you know he went to jail once? I’ve written about former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, who I’m sure you’ll remember as the guy who tried to sell then President-elect Barack Obama’s Senate seat. He’s currently in federal prison. And I’ve written a paper comparing and contrasting Donald Trump and The Walt Disney Company.
Going back to school has not taken up as much of my time as I thought it would. I mostly do my work during my hour lunch break, and then also a few nights a week while my husband is working on projects around the house. And when he asks me what I’m working on, my papers usually make for great conversation.
It’s All about the Little Things
I read in the book The Slight Edge that what sets successful people apart from unsuccessful people is that successful people do the little things that unsuccessful people aren’t willing to do. For instance, instead of eating a greasy, fast food burger for lunch, they have a salad. Instead of sleeping in longer, they get up a half hour earlier and fit in a workout. And in my case, instead of going out for lunch on my break at work, I stay and use that hour to write a paper. So that one hour every day really is a small undertaking, but it will add up to something big in the form of a master’s degree. That’s valuable to me.
Besides, I’m not the kind of person who wants to look back later in life and have to say to myself, “What if I didn’t let fear stop me? Where would I be today?”
Elizabeth Rittiman spent the first seven years of her career working in television news. When she moved to Denver with her husband in 2011 she used the opportunity to switch gears in her career to find a role where she could be more of an advocate for the things she was passionate about, education being one of them. When she’s not working, she enjoys skiing and snowshoeing in the Rocky Mountains.