How Online Learning Gives Every Student a Chance to Succeed

Online learning creates a level playing field for all students

One thing I came to appreciate during my time at Ashford University was the level playing field provided to every student. No one is at a disadvantage within the online classroom.

This week the University’s Forward Thinking blog published an article I wrote about the resources that make online learning more accessible to students. These are especially helpful for adult learners, many of whom are parents attending class in the hours between putting the kids to bed and settling down for whatever sleep they can get before a new workday.

For me, that was usually about two hours per night, and about 4-5 hours on Saturdays. I tried to keep Sundays clear of school, save for an hour or so of reading. The schedule won’t be the same for everyone, and whatever time you put in can be shortened considerably if you’re maximizing the resources mentioned in that article.

Getting back to the point about a level playing field, the article references the American Psychological Association (APA) writing format as the standard for all Ashford University students. Every university is different, so this is something you’ll want to research if you’re thinking about going back to school.

Here are some links to get you started:

APA Essay Checklist for Students: From the University Writing Center, this explains the in-text citations and formatting guidelines of APA style. You’ll also find links to sample APA-formatted pages, and a PDF you can use as a go-to reference.

APA vs. MLA: The latter is another common academic writing style, and this Forward Thinking article explains the differences (and similarities) between the two.

APAStyle.org: The official American Psychological Association website will link you to more writing style basics, explain the origin of APA style, and answer any remaining questions you might have.

Learning APA may take a bit of time, but so does anything worth doing. At the end of the day you’ll have mastered a new writing style while also finishing school, so you’re not only on a level playing field with fellow students, but you could be at a higher level professionally.

Your Job Search To-Do List

Staying Positive During the Job Search

Today Ashford University’s Forward Thinking blog published an article I wrote about staying positive and productive during the job search. This advice comes from the University’s Career Services team, which is always there for students who need help with everything from resume writing to job interview preparation.

Now that the article is published I realize there is some personal advice I should add for anyone who is in the midst of a job search:

Stick to a schedule

If you woke every morning at 6 a.m. while you were working, you should keep waking at the same time (okay, maybe 6:15). Try to stick to the same “workday” schedule during your job search, and replace work responsibilities with equally productive activities. For example, if you had a 9 a.m. staff meeting every morning, schedule a 9 a.m. “catchup meeting” in which you can sit down and plot your daily priorities. Keep eating lunch at the same time, and replace any down time from your work day with something that can increase your chances of finding a new job, like taking a free online course.

Keep it professional on social media

If you had gotten used to posting about work-related topics and your daily workflow, try to recreate that on social media during your job search. Instead of posting about random things, or nothing at all, use your time off to redefine your social image. As they say, stay on brand, and look for articles and events within your industry that you can talk about online. You may end up making connections this way, and you’ll be staying on top of changes that could affect your next career move.

Don’t touch that dial

This kind of goes without saying, but it’s a healthy reminder during the job search. Television (and online videos) are a distraction that you don’t need when you’re looking for your next opportunity. Many of you reading this might agree that just turning on the television when you should be at work makes you feel a little guilty, as if you know there are more important things you should be doing. Once you’re settled into your new position, you can go back and binge watch that new show people can’t stop tweeting about.

Remember, you’re only one half of the job search, and while it may feel like the hiring process moves very slowly, you can do a lot to close that gap between you and a potential employer.

 

Where online students go for resume tips

Resume Writing for Online Students

The job search can be really challenging for introverts. What if you are someone who can expertly perform the tasks a job requires, but you’re really not good at promoting yourself? This is why people get paid to write resumes.

If self-promotion is not in your skill set, it’s okay to ask for help. If you’re a college student (traditional or online), you might be able to get free resume reviews and guidance via student services. I interviewed a specialist with Ashford University’s Career Services team about resume do’s and don’ts, easily fixable mistakes, and what you should (and shouldn’t) leave off your resume. It’s good advice even if you finished college years ago.

The story went up this week at Ashford’s Forward Thinking blog.

I should probably quit while I’m ahead

My first graduate school course is complete and my GPA is 4.0. Feeling pretty good about that right now. I had planned to post an update here after I was accepted into the M.B.A. program at Forbes School of Business in January, but it turns out when you have to balance work, school, and family, there’s not a lot of time left for website updates. But I am pleased about the decision to go back to school, and it turns out this is exactly the right time in my life to do it.

Something I learned almost immediately is that when you’re an adult learner, you’re able to apply so much of your career experience to the conversation and your assignments. It just wouldn’t have been the same had I chosen to get a Master’s degree after graduating from Oswego all those years back. My only experience at that point was stocking shelves at Wegmans (No. 4 on Fortune’s “Best Companies to Work For” list!) and working the video game section of Sears.

I loved both of those jobs.

Some time back I posted an update to LinkedIn after earning my social media strategy certification. Since then I’ve also finished the Digital Marketing certification program that was offered by Mediabistro, and I’ve started taking Hootsuite’s Podium courses, which is another social media program. I feel like I’m getting pretty good at this.

Gold star for me.
Gold star for me.

You’ve got a job offer, now what?

This is the fourth article I’ve written in a loosely connected series about taking a new career path, the questions you should ask yourself, and how to avoid making mistakes along the way. This latest article is about what to do after you’ve received a job offer. Employers will anticipate that you’ll need 24-48 hours to discuss the offer with your family, and in that time there are some items you’ll want to check off your list.

Obviously, this doesn’t apply to everyone. If you’re offered the job you want at the salary you want and everything seems lined up perfectly, maybe you don’t need 24-48 hours. But sometimes you don’t want to take a job just for the money, or you might end up turning down the offer.

I got some advice from an expert on Ashford University’s Career and Alumni Services team, and you can read it on Forward Thinking.

How to tell if this is the right job for you

Here is the third article I did in a series about taking a new path in your career. Sometimes when we’re searching for something new, we can get a little desperate or anxious, and want to jump at the first thing that comes along, because we don’t know if there’s anything better out there.

Other times you may be motivated by money, and depending on your situation you may be inclined to take the best offer on the table. That can work out, sure, but you want to know what you’re getting into. Company culture is just as critical as salary. This article is about getting the complete picture, beyond the interview, the red flags to look for, and how to know that this is the right job for you.

Read the story on Ashford University’s Forward Thinking blog.

Changing jobs often doesn’t have to be a bad thing

Here’s the second blog from a series on leaving your career in search of something new. In some industries — take broadcasting, for example — people are expected to move around a lot as they search for a bigger opportunity. But not all industries are like that, so I asked the Career Services team how someone can avoid the “job hopper” label when applying for a new position.

How to Combat the Job Hopper Stereotype