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What Online Learning is Like for Parents

by Monica Smith

Jun 20, 2019, 9:00 AM.

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From diapers to discussion posts, bedtime stories to study sessions, parents pursuing a degree fully online are time-management masters. Statistics show that more and more students are nontraditional, waiting to pursue their degrees until well after high-school. At FIU Online, many fully online students also work full-time, and within that group, many have children at home like Cheryl Rivera, a fully online graduate student.

“Online learning gives me the flexibility to learn when it is most convenient for my schedule. Most adult learners have families and careers, which do not allow for traditional face-to-face class schedules,” said Rivera, who has two children ages 7 and 9.

Rivera does most of her work after dinner when the kids are in bed. Between the hours of 8 p.m. and 10 p.m., she studies, and then on the weekends, she works on papers and projects.

“Of course, it often means sacrificing some family time,” said Rivera who feels that she’s setting a good example for her children. “My daughter always says she wants to go to FIU just like mom.”

Amy Desouvre agrees with Rivera. With three young children in school and a toddler at home, Desouvre says that online learning with FIU allowed her to go back to school to earn her master’s degree and it helps her keep up with the needs of her family.

“There is no way in time or space that my crazy schedule with the little ones would physically allow me to travel and attend classes on campus,” said Desouvre.

Online learning is a balancing act and requires dedication and discipline, says Enrique Blanco a graduate student, father of three and an FIU Online student success coach manager. With a 17-year-old, 12-year-old and 7-year-old, it can get hectic for him on weekends when he attends his children’s games.

“To be successful, students need to make their studies a priority, follow their syllabus and reach out to professors if there’s something they don’t understand,” Blanco explained. He added that the biggest mistake is thinking you still have more time. “While the flexibility is there to complete work on your time, it doesn’t mean that you can shrug off deadlines for assignments.”

“I think online learning allows reasonable time to balance family and career. It is how
you maximize the time, that matters,” followed up Rivera.

Canvas, the computer platform used to access online courses can even be accessed via a smartphone and it also, it conveniently offers to-do lists. Learners can make good use of the calendar feature to ensure they’re not missing any assignments.

“I think every individual attending online classes must sit down and work out a schedule that fits them,” offered Desouvre who says she has to work out her schedule like a jigsaw puzzle. “But I will get it done.” 

Desouvre recommends online learning for parents who have busy lives and want to gain specific knowledge, but from her perspective, she feels the ability to self-navigate with technology and time is crucial.

“Online learning is rigorous, but it’s a great way to gain the education you need while you’re working and still want to keep up with your family’s events,” summarized Blanco. “It’s very doable.”

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