Tips for Staying Productive During the Summer

Sunset over a seaside town.

“Summer vacation 2006 in Italy-Venezia” by skyseeker. Licensed under CC-BY 2.0, Original Source via Flickr.

When I tell people that I’m a teacher, they usually say something like, “You must love summer.”

I don’t love summer. I don’t like summer.


Unlike elementary and secondary teachers and my colleagues who work in traditional brick and mortar institutions of higher learning, I teach year-round. I don’t get a break during the summer months. And working in the summer is difficult because my kids are they’re home with me. During the sweltering heat of July and August, I need to grade papers, deal with house flies, and prevent my kids from killing each other. It’s tough.

However, over the past seven years, I have learned a few things about staying productive during the hot summer months. If you’re an online student and a parent and you want to keep your GPA up and keep your kids happy during the summer, here are some of my best tips:

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How to Write a Killer Research Paper!

book stacks

“Toronto: book stacks at Toronto Reference Library” by The City of Toronto is licensed under CC BY 2.0

A year ago, I wrote a blog post discussing the traps you should avoid when writing a college-level research paper. However, now that we’re in mid-April and I’m waist-deep in research papers, I thought it’d be a great time to broach the subject again. Most students – and I say this without judgment – have no idea how to write an effective research paper. High school English courses don’t offer much preparation, and most college writing courses aren’t much better. So, here are some of my best tips for research and writing success!

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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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