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A Day in the Life

Of an Online College Student

By Mark SmithPublished 6 years ago 4 min read
Image from Patten University

Most people know, or have a basic idea of, the daily life of a traditional college student. Wake up, go to class, sit through long lectures, work, home, study, sleep, repeat. Oh and some food in there along the way. However, very few people know the life of an online college student.

Here's the beauty of online college: you're on your own time. Yes, you have deadlines, and yes there are penalties for failing to meet these deadlines. However, over the course of a week, it's all your choice. You have no schedule to watch a lecture or read the textbook. It just has to get done. This opens up a lot of time in the day.

Here's a typical day for me.

I usually wake up between 7-8 AM. I hangout with my dog, Macey, and make some breakfast. Usually, by 10 AM, I have eaten and showered and am ready for the day. At this point I look at my work shift for the day. If it's an early shift I would go to work, if it's not until later in the afternoon, I sit down and study. I work full time, six days a week, so when I study is largely based around when I am not working.

Most of my shifts are late afternoon, between 2-8, so I typically do my studying in the morning. I may decide to work from home, go to Starbucks or another local cafe, or even go down to the waterfront with my HotSpot to study. My classroom is anywhere I choose.

I log into my Southern New Hampshire University account and access the course page. SNHU, and the majority of other online schools, is a fully accredited school just as any brick and mortar institution. The courses and the resulting degree hold just as much value as any other schools. As an online student being full time means you take two eight week courses at a time year round. A week or two break here and there, but for the most part, it is constant schooling. This ends up being 36 credits in a year, so slightly faster than a traditional campus.

My coursework during the week is usually reading from my online textbooks. Most of these books actually highlight the need to know information and cut out a lot of the added fodder. Still, reading takes a while and I usually need to take notes if I plan to do well on the material.

After reading, I check to see if there are any supplement videos listed under the week overview or any other outside readings. Then it's time for the first assignment, which is usually a discussion post.

For online students, this is really the bread and butter of most programs. You are given a prompt for the week and must post your opinions or ideas on it for the rest of the class to see. This is your participation. The best part about this is that since everyone is an online student they are much braver. The information shared can be very personal or very blunt, and everyone gets their voice heard. Traditional education makes this difficult because people fear judgment. Online, this fades away and really well-rounded discussion groups are formed.

After doing these posts, I usually call it for the day. I make a large lunch and play more with Macey before heading out to work. I usually get home around eight and have dinner by nine. At this point, I have options. If it's a super busy school week I'll work on more homework. If it's a bit slower I may lounge around my house and watch some Netflix (Riverdale, The Walking Dead, Zoo, etc), or I may go to a friend's to hang out for a while.

By 10:30 I am usually in bed unless I've gone to a friend's. I like my sleep and I need a lot of it to be functional. Overall, this is a day in the life of a college student. The remainder of the week looks mostly the same. A few additional projects to do before weeks end, but after reading and discussions you should have the knowledge to do them fairly easy.

Online college seems to do away, for the most part, with exams. Almost all of my classes are based on writing papers or submitting reports as projects. The final project usually being an essay that ensures that you use and explain all the information you gained in class in a real-life setting. For example, my Childhood Development class had me pick a theory, discuss it's history, how it is used today, and how this theory has helped shape treatments in today's society. This made me have to know my theory really well, and know how to apply it to real-life situations. My only exam was for statistics, and as far as math goes you kind of need exams.

Online college, to me, is freedom. It is the ability to do my work as I need to. It is the ability to go to school full time, work full time, and still have time to spend with friends or relax. It is the ability to take my school anywhere, which really comes in handy when I want to take vacations. It is the ability to continue my education, and earn my degree, in a way that fits my life.

Online college is amazing.

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About the Creator

Mark Smith

I am a college student sharing my stories of college education and what I wish I had known about higher education.

I also write about my view on life, society, and people. Ideas of the future and more.

-Live your best life, it's all you got-

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    Mark SmithWritten by Mark Smith

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