Paying for Your Online Education Without Going into Debt!

Words "Debt" written in magnetic letters.

“Debt” by Christian Schnettelker
Licensed under CC-BY 2.0
Original Source via Flickr

According to a recent report, student loan debt is projected to overtake mortgage debt by the year 2042. As someone who has carried a mortgage-sized student debt for the last 10 years, I’m not surprised. A degree comes with a hefty price tag, and if you aren’t independently wealthy, then you need to find ways to foot the bill. When I enrolled in my first graduate program, I didn’t know anything about the different options out there. Because of that, I took on too many student loans for too much money with too few benefits.

I don’t want you to make the same mistakes as I did, so here are some tips to help you avoid massive student debt and the headaches that come with it:

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Effective Communication Strategies

Sidewalk with the word "Communication" etched into it.

“Communication” by F Delventhal is licensed under CC BY 2.0


Students often reach out to me at the beginning of the term.  They express their concerns about the course, they confess their shortcomings as students and writers, and they solicit some advice.

“What’s the one thing I can do to increase my chances of doing well?” they ask.

“Simple,” I say. “Keep the lines of communication open.”

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Which Learning Format Should You Choose?


“Laptop Keyboard” by garycycles8, Licensed under CC-BY 2.0

Happy New Year!

I have a feeling that it’s going to be a fantastic year, especially if one of your New Year’s resolutions is to start your education! Online learning has changed dramatically over the past few years. More online schools have popped up, and more and more established universities and colleges are expanding their online offerings. As a prospective online student, you have a ton of options!

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4 Things You Can Learn from Your Gen Ed Courses

Picture of a young man sitting at a desk, reading a book.

“The Student” by Julius Thiengen Bloch (American (born Germany), Kehl 1888–1966 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) via The Metropolitan Museum of Art is licensed under CC0 1.0

Most online colleges and universities have some general education program in place. In fact, according to a periodical published by the Association of American Colleges and Universities, general education courses “may comprise as much as one-third of [a student’s] college education.” Now, you might not be too keen on having to complete a cluster of core courses, but general education programs aren’t going away anytime soon.  So, you can approach your general education courses in one of two ways: you can bemoan the fact that you have to take courses outside of your major, or you can decide to make the most of all the learning opportunities that general education courses present

Personally, I recommend the latter! The truth is your general education courses can teach you a lot. Here are some of the things you can learn if you keep an open mind:

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How to Stay Focused During the Holiday Season

Next week, we’ll celebrate Thanksgiving. As a person, I love the holidays – I love the cooking, the festivities, and the family fun. However, the teacher in me hates that 6-week stretch from mid-November to Christmas. Why? It’s pure chaos. Students are panicking about the end of the term exams and papers, and I’m trying to cook, clean, and grade everything without losing my mind. It’s a stressful time for all involved. That said, there are some strategies you can employ to make sure you have a productive and relaxing holiday season – or at least a more relaxing holiday season.

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Tips for Catching Up!

It’s October. The leaves are falling, the football season is heating up, and midterms are approaching. Not surprisingly, this is the time of year when some students start to fall behind. If you’re attending a traditional ground college, you usually have eight weeks to get caught up. However, if you’re taking an accelerated course at an online university, you don’t have a lot of time to make up missing work. Don’t despair!

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Coping with a Mental Illness While in College


Picture of a person with face in hands.

“Depression” by ryan melaugh is licensed under CC BY 2.0


According to a recent article in The Guardian, college students today are 5 times more likely to suffer from mental health disorders than college students a decade ago. Depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders can impact a person’s ability to engage in everyday activities. If you’re an online student with a full course load and personal and professional obligations, mental health disorders can be devastating. However, they can don’t have to derail your academic progress. Over the past 7 years, I’ve helped countless students manage their mental health issues and achieve their academic goals. I’ve also pursued two graduate degrees while dealing with acute anxiety and depression.

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How to Be An Active Learner

Image of a young man studying on the ground.

“Studying” by Alex Indigo is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Last month, I talked about the importance of adopting a growth mindset. Students with growth mindsets tend to get more from their educational experiences than students with fixed mindsets. Students with growth mindsets also tend to be more active learners, which is one of the reasons why they are successful.

When I was in high school (no, I’m not going to tell you when that was), people thought about education a lot differently than they do now. Most educational professionals still clung to the teacher-centered learning model. In that model, the teacher would speak, and the students would passively listen, hoping that something would stick. The type of education you received depended on the type of teachers you had.

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Moving from a Fixed Mindset to a Growth Mindset

“Growth vs. Fixed Mindset” by Jessica Ottewell is licensed under CC BY 2.0


We’re a few days into a new term, and I’ve already received several emails from panicked students who are terrified about the upcoming writing assignments. These emails don’t contain questions or requests for assistance. They contain professions of inadequacy:

“I’m a terrible writer.”
“I’m not an English person.”
“I’ve never been good at writing classes.

I get these kinds of emails all the time. Unfortunately, students who email me things like this usually don’t do too well in my course. It’s not that they aren’t capable of putting together a cohesive essay. In fact, many of these naysayers have solid writing skills! They fail because they assume they will; they struggle because they believe they don’t have the ability to succeed.

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How to Make a Grade Appeal

Image of woman and man having a discussion.

“Discussion” by MIT OEIT is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Last term, I had a student send me a very aggressive email. Using some very choice phrases, he demanded I change his final paper grade, and he accused me of not reading his submission. Needless to say, I didn’t honor his requests.

Unlike some my colleagues, I don’t mind grade appeals. I like it when my students care enough to fight for the grade they think they deserve. However, you have to present your case in the right way. So, if you want to get your teacher to rethink your grade, be sure you do the following things:

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