My online adventure is officially over, although I’m still considering whether I want to enroll in our Master of Strategic Leadership program on a full time basis.
As you might recall, I enrolled in a graduate-level business course at Stephens earlier this summer for marketing purposes. I wanted a better understanding of how online education works.
My instructor made it clear to me from the beginning that I would be expected to do the work just as any student; that I wouldn’t be getting special privileges because I was from marketing. And I was happy to hear that; it would have defeated the purpose had she made it easier on me.
Early on, carving out the time for coursework was a bit of a challenge. At first, it was tough to overcome my sheer laziness, but then life actually started to legitimately get in the way. I found, within a couple of weeks, that if I scheduled time for my class at least two different days during the week, it became very manageable. So Wednesday evenings and Sunday mornings were homework time; the former because it seemed like a good mid-week activity, the latter doubled as laundry time. It’s amazing how much you can get done waiting for a load of jeans to dry.
Both sessions usually took close to three hours. The first hour or so was dedicated to the readings and finding outside sources, the next to writing an entry to the online discussion board, and the rest to reading other people’s posts and commenting where appropriate.
Online courses operate similarly—so those taking classes in any of our online programs can expect the same time commitment, reading assignments and discussion boards.
What I liked about Business 500 specifically—and I’ve heard this of our online education program, as well—was how relevant it was to my job here. I’m not in a leadership position, but many of the topics covered—how to behave in meetings, how to work with differing personalities, how to communicate to the public—directly relate to my job. And it really came at a great time; transitioning from a marketing office after 14 years in a newsroom required some adjustments. Let’s just say certain mannerisms are OK in one but not the other.
Throughout the course, I was assessing my abilities, communication style and leadership traits.
And even though the class is over, I still have homework. My last assignment was to create a leadership plan tailored to me: What goals will I set for myself to become a better leader? How will I make them happen? What’s my deadline, and how will I monitor my success? Believe me, I have some concrete steps I’ll be taking over the coming weeks because of that leadership plan.
The online course, while convenient because I could complete it from the comforts of home, was a really challenging and rewarding experience.
And did I mention I got an A?