As an online student, it is difficult to connect with one's professors or fellow students on a regular basis. Certainly in this day and age there are so many ways to reach out to someone - email, social media, Moodle and discussion forums, but these will always pale in comparison to good ol' fashioned face-to-face time. While I know that I can reach out to my professors and advisor when necessary, and I certainly have, I've learned to be my own support. Because of this, coupled by the fact that I spend so much time on my own reading through discussion forums, tracking down articles, and navigating through modules on Moodle, my education often feels like a very solitary experience. I learned a great lesson recently in taking responsibility for my personal experience as a Simmons graduate student, specifically regarding summer semester.
During my undergraduate education, summers usually involved internships in random fields as I tried to figure out exactly what it was that I wanted to do. I was still unsure about library science as my career path, so I dabbled in public relations, consulting, and even theatre management and production off-Broadway. I never had the chance to spend the summer at school or take a class between semesters, so I didn't know what to expect with my upcoming summer semester at Simmons... but I was ready to go! Three classes, fully registered, bring it on!
Then the end of May came and went. I was confused, expecting a three-month semester similar to my Fall and Spring experiences. Wasn't the summer semester supposed to be starting up? Where were all of my classes on Moodle?
Finally I emailed my advisor in a panic: was I fully registered? Was there an issue with Moodle? Was I missing valuable class time? I had emailed my advisor before registration for feedback about my potential schedule and received confirmation that my plans were on the mark. Perhaps my advisor was busy, and my email received a quick once-over before an even quicker response... but at the end of the day, I discovered that I had packed three classes into a semester that, unbeknownst to me, was barely over a month long. To make matters worse, I'd be on vacation for almost two weeks during the same period.
My panic only increased. I've always been one to plan ahead and stick to it, and now all of that was up in the air. What do I do now? The vacation was already booked and paid for so cancelling was not an option. Will this affect my studies? Will I have to drop all of my classes and stay in grad school for another semester? Can I credit my tuition payment for the summer to another semester? Student Survival Mode, usually reserved only for Finals Period, kicked in and I immediately reached out to my professors, asking for options, syllabi, anything that I could use to figure out a new plan. Thankfully, all of my professors were extremely understanding and promised to work with me as much as possible. While I did decide to drop one course (in favor of taking it during a standard semester), I am confident that I can get this work done, enjoy my vacation, and earn some credits this summer as planned!
So off to the library for me! I might be an online student, but you'll find me leaving my 9-to-5 and going directly to in a window seat at the Beatley Library with a course reserve textbook or two as I try to get ahead before the semester starts on June 22nd - just in case you didn't know the date either!
Good luck to everyone else taking a class or two this summer! May your studies be stressless and air conditioned!