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Sacrifice = Success at World Campus

Happy New Year! I hope 2013 brings success and happiness. To those returning—welcome back! To those first starting—welcome aboard! And to everyone—here’s to a successful semester, whether it’s your first or last!

My experiences as a World Campus student have been enjoyable. I began with mixed feelings, mainly because I’m not a tech-savvy person, but I’ll revisit that later. Since May 2011 I have participated in the MPS HRER program and have thoroughly enjoyed it.

I find distance learning is particularly suited for students who work, have families, live away from a Penn State campus, or require the flexibility a 24/7 learning environment provides. I was a college graduate in the traditional sense, as a both full-time student on campus, and a part-time student attending night school, so I have a perspective from both sides.

While technology changes the dynamic, it is the student who ensures success. This post concerns the question(s) of sacrifice. Basically, through a few sacrifices, it is possible to succeed in World Campus. Obviously, the biggest sacrifice is time, but this can be either large or small.

Consider: When determining a class schedule, it is important to define when you want to complete the program. If you’re happy completing your course of study in three or more years, then one or two classes a semester requires smaller sacrifices. However, if you decide to finish more quickly, the course load increases, as does the sacrifice. Therefore, it is important to determine WHEN you want to finish, which determines HOW to design your schedule, deciding WHAT to sacrifice, and WHO it affects.

Of all of the questions, the “who” component has the most impact on others, and directly affects your work-life balance. Who includes: family, employer, friends, yourself, and classmates.

WC students have a heavy workload of reading and group work. Group activities are an interesting dynamic because rarely will your classmates all live in the same time zone or work the same hours. Interaction may entail rising early, staying up late, or both, especially on weekends. Needless to say, Monday Night Football, a weekend at the shore, or some other aspect of your life and somebody else’s may be affected.

To overcome this issue, I find it important to communicate your availability with your classmates early and often. This alleviates any surprises within the group.

Next, communicate with all others affected, and follow through with what you say you’re going to do. You do not want to sacrifice your integrity.

Finally, it is equally important to express your gratitude toward those “who” were/are affected by your WC responsibilities. Remember, this includes family and friends!

Sacrifice is not always about giving something up—it can be about compromise. Successful students understand the importance of sacrifice and how to work with those affected. All it takes is a little time to plan and communicate.

As we move through the next few months my goal is to provide practical tips and tricks for success. My goal is to share my experiences as a student, veteran, and other items from my career. I’m not on Facebook, but I do have a profile on LinkedIn. Good luck to all this semester!

Tom