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How to Handle Your Online Course Over the Break

cody bourque -- Tue, 11/24/2015 - 10:11am

A common battle that most of us face around this time of the Fall semester is how to handle our schoolwork when we’re technically on a break from school. With online courses, the line is very hard to define. I am personally faced with the challenge of balancing a break from school with the work I have for my online course. It’s tough, because at this point in the semester, we feel as we’re in in the homestretch. We see the finish line right in front of us! Also, we’re feeling pretty exhausted, because we’ve powered through a few projects, weekly homework assignments, and readings. How do we handle this break when we’re so close to the end? Shouldn’t we just keep going? Or will we take a break and never be able to get back on track?

When I was strictly taking classes only on campus, Thanksgiving break was my savior before finals week! It gave me usually 3 extra days to relax and forget about the pressure of finals week for a moment. Now, I am in my last semester of college as an English - Professional Writing major, who is enrolled in three face-to-face classes and one online course. None of my classes have final exams, because that’s not really how higher level English courses work. We don’t get tested unless we’re concentrated on literature study or theories. My focus is writing, so all of my finals, including my online course, are projects or papers. The bright side of this all is that come finals week, I don’t have to stress over exams and pull all-nighters…(at least not the kind where you study.)  The downfall is that I do have a giant weight on my back and the only way to get rid of it is by completing each assignment I’ve got.

In online courses, most of the work is given to us in advance and we are given due dates telling when to turn in the assignment. So do we really get a break in the semester? I think the answer is still, yes. Most professors teaching online courses understand that we all need a break, so they usually arrange due dates outside of the break. But does that mean that we don’t work on assignments over the break? Well, that depends.

The question that most people, in the situation where the due date is a day or so after the break, ask themselves is “do I take a break?” and it’s a hard question to answer rationally. Naturally, we all want a break, but can we pick back up where we left off with the same work ethic that we left off on? That is a question we have to ask ourselves and we have to answer honestly. Our instinctive answer is usually “yes, I need a break and I can easily finish later on,” but can we really? For circumstance, we have to look at our past and evaluate if we truly are able to bounce back from a break and finish strong. Sometimes when we take a break, we’ll lose the train of thought we were on or lose the motivation we initially had to finish the assignment. It’s a tough decision we have to make on own, but it is crucial to how we finish the semester. I think we all deserve a break from schoolwork, because personally, I’ll start to become stir crazy if it is the only thing I’m focusing on. A well-deserved break is healthy, but if we use the break to put off work, then you are only setting yourself up for failure.

If you take a break over this upcoming break, then make it a well deserved one.