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Surviving the Season: Getting Through the Holidays Without Sacrificing Your Grades

Posted on Friday November 16, 2012 by Staff Writers

Winner of Best Colleges Online’s 2012 Online College Professor of the Year contest LeAnne Prenovost will be blogging for Edventure Calling throughout the school year on issues that new online students face.

The holiday season is rapidly approaching and while it is certainly a wonderful time of the year, it can be very stressful for students in general – especially for online students. It is paramount that as a gift to yourself, your first priority during this season is taking care of yourself and your online education.

      1. Make a Holiday Season Priority List
        Knowing that it is impossible to do “it all”, make a list to help prioritize your holiday commitments. I like to make my list with three columns:

        • Must do
        • Should do
        • Want to do

        Keep in mind that you will not be a student forever and it will not hurt to set healthy boundaries with your time for a couple of holiday seasons. First, build in time for schoolwork, and then holiday commitments. Schedule your schoolwork early in the week, as well as early in the day, with the intent of getting it done as soon as possible. By working on it before and around holiday events you may be able to complete work before it’s due and set aside some “days off” to enjoy yourself, and if necessary, have some “back up” times available to use for studying. In worst-case scenarios, take advantage of those small pockets of time for assignments, participation and discussion questions, etc. – and remember this too shall pass. Projecting forward with worst-case scenarios will sap your energy and strength during this time.

      2. Just Say No
        Don’t be afraid to say no without feeling guilty. Remember that it is not always necessary to offer a lengthy explanation. All that is necessary to say is “I’m so sorry but I will have to pass on that this year, I have a previous commitment”. You do not have to explain that your previous commitment is your online class. In addition, rally support. Explain to family and close friends the importance of your education and let them know that uninterrupted study time might just be the best gift they can give you.And don’t be afraid to wave the white flag and say that you need help. But when you do ask for help, be clear on what it is that family or friends can do to help you. You should also delegate whenever possible during this busy time, but don’t forget to follow through on what you have delegated to ensure completion. Many of us are great at delegating but fall down on the follow through, which is essential to success.
      1. Manage Your Holiday Travels
        As a student, staying accountable with school involves thoroughly planning your travel. If you are traveling, plan and pack your school materials first – flash drive, laptop, power cord, textbooks, notebook, pencils – whatever you will need to get the job done. No matter your mode of travel (planes, trains or automobiles) keep your school bag with you. Remember, when going through airport security, you will have to remove your computer from your school bag and place it in a bin alone, so keep it in an easily accessible bag. Also, airports – and some airlines – have WiFi so take advantage of that pre boarding time! Never put your school supplies in your checked luggage either, in case your luggage is lost or delayed, this happened to me once and it was very stress provoking.Being accountable always involves thorough planning if you will be out of town or in an unfamiliar place. Search out coffee shops, bookstores, restaurants, and libraries in the zip code where you will be and make a list of their addresses and phone numbers. If you are on a road trip, be sure to check out other towns on your route for Internet connection.

        Also, many hotels have business centers with computers and printers for use and it is rare to find a hotel without WiFi. Check when you make reservations and make it a point to emphasize that you must have a strong working Internet connection at all times. As soon as you check into your room, make sure that you can get an Internet connection with the appropriate speed. If you are placed in a room with patchy Internet connect, ask to be moved to another room with better reception or try an Ethernet cord. My husband and I actually checked out of a hotel a few months ago and received a full refund because the advertised Internet did not work. We (of course) had our “list” and quickly checked in to another hotel close by with an excellent Internet connection.

      2. Enjoy the Season
        If you are torn between getting your studies done and filling your need to be involved in and feel the ambiance of the holiday season, try studying at a bookstore or coffee shop complete with holiday décor and festive music. And on the days I was stuck studying at home, I would create my own holiday cheer by buying a few different scents holiday candles to burn.I would also make a short list of quick things to do to de-stress when feeling overwhelmed, such as a walk around the block, hot shower or bath, prayer, an inspirational reading, meditation, or a talk with someone who motivated me. Take it a day at a time and the season will be over as quickly as it came. You will make it through. And finally, be easy on yourself, you are not Superman or Superwoman so put the big turkey drumstick or Christmas tree branch down and stop beating yourself up. You will not be able to do it all, but you can certainly do enough to have a happy holiday season and make this the most of this time.

Always keep in mind that your education is the gift that keeps on giving to you and your family and there is documented proof of the generational impact of education. So don’t sweat the small stuff this holiday season, keep your eye on the big picture, the prize of your college degree, and it will be the most wonderful time of the year!

Hear more from Professor Prenovost!