Going to School with PTSD: Online Education and Anxiety

By James Hinton

I was an older student with an anxiety issue. After spending time in the Army, including several combat tours, I had been diagnosed with PTSD. Being around large numbers of strangers worried me. Noisy settings where I was not completely in control gave me the need to run for it. I would even feel a touch agoraphobic if I was not close to something I could bunker up within.

When I made the decision to obtain a college degree after getting out, these all presented me with significant problems. While some of the university classes I participated in had relatively small class sizes that enabled me to learn faces fairly quickly and find a certain degree of comfort with, large classes were a daily struggle. I would have to position myself close to doors so I could bolt outside for relief if needed. More boisterous classes could result in frequent, embarrassing episodes where I just plain had to get out.

Eventually I made it through and obtained my Bachelors, but it was not a particularly easy or enjoyable process. My struggles had frequently led to my considering quitting, which had only caused the depression that comes with PTSD to get worse. Preparing for class had been an anxiety inducing process that involved my wondering whether I’d make it through to the end, or have to make a dash for the door yet again.

I still wonder sometimes how I made it to graduation.

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6 Ways to Stay Motivated With Online Learning

By Tess Pajaron

During the last few years, online learning has become a viable alternative to traditional learning environments. This modality of studying helps students to save both time and money on commuting, but prospective learners should remember that its specific nature radically differs from regular classroom learning styles. In order to make the most from their online courses, students must boast excellent time management skills, have clear study goals and stay organized throughout their period of study.

Since online learners bear much more responsibility over their learning process, they require a high level of motivation for completing their coursework. Here are 6 practical tips on how to stay motivated and enthusiastic when attending an online course.

Tess Pajaron1.  Choose your field well

There is nothing more important for staying motivated than following your passion, which you also consider significant to your life and career. When choosing an online course, consider your options carefully and go for those learning opportunities that will help you achieve the career you want. This awareness will help keep you on track – you will see your activities as a meaningful part of a larger whole.

2.  Establish realistic goals

This is another important point that can significantly affect your attitude towards your studies. If you’ve always struggled with writing, don’t expect to create a great essay in a couple of hours. This way you’re just setting yourself up for failure, and it’s safe to assume that every failure will also negatively affect your motivation.

Be realistic, set reasonable goals for yourself in appropriate time frames. Once you accomplish them, you’ll immediately feel a sense of achievement. This feeling will keep you going, helping you realize your full potential over time.

3.  Track your progress

Keep a journal or a calendar filled with small weekly and monthly goals. Make sure to closely track your progress by ticking off every accomplished task – seeing so many little goals achieved will boost your self-esteem and help you stay motivated, even when the amount of work starts to stress you out.

4.  Talk about your learning materials

Don’t shy away from commenting on your study process. If this is a challenge, make sure to keep in touch with your instructor through a designated e-learning platform or simply by e-mail – you can share your insights and ask for additional resources.

It’s important to stay connected with your trainers and assessors as well as other students who are studying your course, or within your course area. Many online education providers now have specialized learning platforms that are designed to connect students with each other. Often, there are dedicated social media groups such as Facebook groups, Pinterest share boards and even blogs that are included as part of your online course. Make sure to keep in touch with your trainers through a designated e-learning platform or simply by e-mail – you can share your insights and ask for additional resources.

5.  Think positively

Positive thinking is an important part of the whole motivational process. Feeling fatigue or stress can affect your perception of the class and the subject itself, making you miserable and unproductive. Try to think positively and talk with your instructor or other students. Their advice might help you through hard times. Remember to reserve some time for yourself once in a while – no one can be expected to manage all their daily tasks and education without a break.

6.  Reward yourself

Consider all the work you’re doing – objectively speaking, you absolutely deserve to have your success acknowledged. When you accomplish one of your goals, be it a minor or major one, make sure to reward yourself with something that will make you happy. Each and every one of these rewards will help you stay motivated in the long run.

It’s safe to say that online education demands just as much self-discipline on the part of learners as traditional education settings. It does, however, bring immense benefits to both your personal and professional life – so choose your path, believe in yourself and stay on track. With enough self-conviction and motivation you’ll be able to reach your goals.

Tess Pajaron is a Community Manager at Open Colleges, an online learning provider based in Sydney, Australia. She has a background in Business Administration and Management.


For more tips on motivation and much more, order your copy of The Secrets of Top Students today!

 

How to Embrace College Culture As a Long Distance Learner

Guest Post

Thirty years ago, the thought that people could someday experience higher education schooling on a personal computer without ever stepping foot in a physical class room would have been unfathomable. It has been transformative in a time when cost and convenience are both matters which would otherwise inhibit one’s ability to access education.

However, some might argue that a great part of the experience can be lost in translation. Many people who attend online universities tend to be uninterested, or feel out-of-touch, with college culture since these people tend to be later-in-life students or have limitations in regards to physical access to an institution – and that’s okay.

But for those who want the social and cultural experiences of college from the comforts of a strictly online education, it can be difficult to do without extracurricular activities on your schedule. If you are unable to attend school at a physical campus and you would like to be more involved in the college lifestyle, here are four ways to do that from a distance.

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Opinion: What Traditional Colleges Can Learn From Online Colleges (Guest Post)

By Kelly Smith. Kelly works at CourseFinder.com.au, an Australian online courses resource. She also provides career advice for students and job seekers and works as a freelance writer.

The benefits of online education are immense – there’s been a lot of talk lately about the next wave of online training that will completely revolutionize the education sector. Zachary Karabell of The Atlantic pointed out the huge future benefits of this radical change: “The costs of obtaining needed credentials will plummet, and the ability to create more tailored, vocational programs aligned with the skills employers need will increase exponentially.”

It goes without saying that there are several things traditional schooling institutions might learn from their online counterparts even today. Read on to see some of the most valuable aspects of online learning that should be adopted by stationary colleges.

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Going the Distance…From Your Living Room (Guest Post)

Will Bankovich, freelance blogger for Study2U.com and full-time dad, wants to be Bill Cunningham when he “grows up”.

My three-year-old is crying, the cat just barfed on the carpet, spaghetti is bubbling over onto the stove and, in the midst of all this, I’m on the phone with a shady mechanic trying to get quotes on a new alternator so I can make it to work this week. The last thing on my mind is “Gee, I should really go back to college”. But maybe it should be.

Are you a single parent thinking about going back to school? (Photo courtesy of Kevin Cawley via Flickr)

Are you a single parent thinking about going back to school? (Photo courtesy of Kevin Cawley via Flickr)

 

A 2010 National Poverty Center press release reports that over 31% of families headed by single individuals were under the national poverty line. This is by far the poorest sub-group in the country, without factoring in ethnicity. Naturally, this statistic leaves out some vital factors: assistance such as food stamps, Medicare/Medicaid, employer-provided insurance and other subsidies/social services. Including, most importantly, that life with low-to-modest wages does not equal a deprived life for you and your kids. Small budgets can lead to creativity. You can be penniless and still build a life of love.

However. When you’re trying to take care of your family, higher learning equals higher earning. The statistics on this are well-known facts. Those in possession of a college degree are making more money. Fortunately, there are many, many resources out there for non-traditional students. I saw an article not too long ago focused on “the best fields of study for single parents”. Nonsense, I say! The best area of study for anyone is whichever career they want to go into. Period.

Distance learning is obviously a popular option for those with priorities at home. Online courses cover basically every area of study, are beamed right into your living room and tend to be cheaper than most standard colleges and universities. You work at your own pace and can probably make your kid a sandwich while you’re taking a test, or work full-time, squeezing classwork into your own spare moments. And forget the commute! You can earn credits in your robe and slippers.

With all the talk of student loans crushing the millennial generation, you’d think financial assistance would be a tough nut to crack. If this is your first foray into academia, Pell Grants are your new best friend (they can only be used towards a first degree). Pell Grants can be combined with other types of funds, and there are no restrictions on the number of scholarships you can apply for. If there’s any money left over the refund goes to you, to help out with other expenses.

The last thing to consider is the example you’re setting for your kids. Afraid they’ll see you pulling out your hair trying to juggle your job, a brand new course-load, being a good parent and well…life in general? Rest assured, you’re illustrating the importance of education to those kiddos. Not just school, but life-long learning and the pursuit of passions. And that’s just about the most important trait you could hope to instill.


No matter what type of student you are, The Secrets of Top Students can help you succeed.  Order your copy today!