Advisor Profile: Deanna Retzlaff
Advisors play a large role in helping distance students reach their academic goals. From giving tips for time management to helping develop the best path to degree completion, advisors provide information to help distance students make decisions that best meet their educational needs.
Deanna Retzlaff is an advisor for distance students completing degrees in food science or animal science. She recommends the following tips for distance students to be successful.
1. Be goal-oriented with realistic expectations.
Progress, no matter how small, is better than status quo. It is a great idea to set goals and milestones for continuing your education. However, it is not reasonable to work a full-time job, have a family AND expect to be a successful full-time student. If your time commitments only allow enough time to complete one class a semester, that is okay. Taking even one class a semester is still progress toward completing the degree.
2. Become an expert in time management skills.
Set times each week that you will dedicate to working on coursework, and stick to it. Remember to add in more study time as exam and project due dates are near. Plan study time well in advance so you are not derailed by unexpected circumstances at work or at home. Write down due dates and study times for the entire semester so you are not surprised by due dates or get behind in coursework. Procrastination is not an excuse.
3. Find the right balance for you.
For those returning to college after a long absence, it is best to start slow and take fewer classes while adjusting to a schedule of being a student again. Once you determine how many hours you can devote to classes each semester, while keeping your sanity, it will be easier to make a long-term plan for completing the degree program.
4. Take ownership of your education, and communicate any challenges or conflicts.
Find ways to motivate yourself each day to work toward your educational goals. Be sure that you know the refund drop dates for any given semester. If you are overwhelmed by too many courses, don't feel bad for dropping a class. You will be better off taking the course when you can devote more time to your studies rather than cramming a bunch of classes into a semester just to get them done. If you find that you have to travel for your job, communicate well in advance with your instructors about taking exams.