As one who is earning an advanced degree in sociology, the concept of roles is not lost on me – specifically acquired roles. As I seek to identify myself with a specific role, it becomes impossible to suggest what I spend more time as; a parent, a teacher, or a full-time employee. These days, as the current climate demands that we learn to change and adopt new norms to adjust to a global pandemic, I find myself needing more flexibility, stronger boundaries, and an ever-growing need for time.
Earning my degree online has helped me find a balance that would otherwise be impossible for me to achieve. Pointing out the obvious benefits (time savings by not going to a physical classroom), the less obvious is creating my own rituals at home when preparing to complete classwork and buckle down on studying. Creating rituals allows for proper boundaries when transitioning from work or “parent-mode” to learning, ensuring that my non-physical classroom is an area of success. Doing this has allowed me to create healthy boundaries within my work-life balance as well; blocking out any distractions from work when family time is occurring.
I am not rushed as a result of not having to travel to class. There is no pre-class anxiety of missing an item I need or needing an extra minute or two to prepare. I can collectively look around my settings, gather my materials, and focus on the subject of the day. When I have the time to focus and create a calmer environment from the time granted, my work is greater quality. I find more time to focus on the content provided to me, ensuring that I truly understand the lessons and guidance given.
Of all the strengths that have come with my ASU Online education, flexibility is the key. Beyond flexibility of time and place, I have the flexibility of taking my education with me. Road trips are made more frequently, ensuring family time is not sacrificed. Help doesn’t take place during certain hours or in certain locations. There is always a number, email, or chat with a person waiting to help me with almost anything that arises. Most importantly is the flexibility that I can practice because of my online education. I find new ways almost everyday to arrange a schedule on the spot, dial in to a meeting while saving my place in an assignment, or pause to take a mental break with my children when they need me to be there.
Without ASU Online, I don’t think I would be nearly as far into my education, nor looking forward to completing an advanced degree. Of all the hats I wear each day, a Sun Devil hat is one of my favorites!