You were called to a new career path, or to advance in your current one. Part of that journey requires going back to school. You carefully chose your program. Books and materials have been purchased. Time and space for school has been carved out of your life. Things were going great. But now there’s a problem. Something has gone wrong that is messing up your school work schedule. You are tempted to panic, beg your instructor for special treatment just this once, quit school, or cry. Don’t. There is a solution to many of the issues faced by adult learners.
You go to school online, or you go to school offline, but need to do internet research, and you lost internet service.
The best way to solve the “no internet” problem is by planning ahead of time. Always have at least three solutions to the “there is no internet” problem available to you. Making sure you have a phone with a tetherable modem is essential if you’re going to depend on the internet for school or work. In the case of your home or workplace internet going down, your phone can act as a temporary second modem. Use that tetherable modem as your “Plan B.” You might want to arrange with a family member or friend to use their wifi first as your Plan C.. Should their wifi be unavailable, perhaps plan D will be to use the wifi at the library or other public place.
If the problem appears to lie with the school’s system rather than your own service, contact tech support immediately. This can be frustrating, as you may wind up talking to someone who has only been trained to respond to key words from a script, and does not truly understand what you are saying. But every ticket, every email, and every call serves as a report of the problem, and they can and should fix campus wide technical problems as quickly as possible.
There is a genuine emergency in your life.
Some emergencies are of course so serious, you truly cannot complete the work of your class. In those situations, it may be best to take a leave of absence and return to your studies when you can. But in situations where an emergency occurs that will not necessitate leaving school for a while can best be dealt with by making an emergency plan before you start school.
Your emergency plan will start with your schedule. Let’s say Monday and Tuesday are your main school days. You get off work at 2 p.m. on those days, your classes are online, and your schedule is up to you. You have set 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. as your academic work time. Add an emergency plan on to that. It can be something like, “If I am unable to complete my work on these days, I will get caught up the following Sunday before the assignment is due” and set time aside for that.
The worst course of action would be to wait until your work is due, and then message your teacher using the emergency situation as an excuse. You may want to let your instructor know of your situation, but frame your message as seeking guidance on what to do in that situation, not as a demand for an extension or other special treatment. When students do this, an instructor’s first thought is often, “This student lost their job/broke their finger/had to take their friend to the hospital/had to go out and do side work to pay a bill…..but it didn’t bother them enough to mention it until the moment their homework was due?” Even if you do honestly think an extension or makeup test or assignment is your only option, letting the teacher know you did all you can to deal with a genuine situation is always better than simply sending an excuse.
You look over some work, and you do not understand the assignment.
Anytime you are not clear on the work you are supposed to do for any reason, reach out to your instructor early. Be honest. Tell the teacher exactly what you don’t understand, and ask them for help.
Some students are afraid of “bothering” their instructor. Don’t be. Teaching you the material in the class is your teacher’s job. They’re the expert in the field, and they’re the one being paid to help you learn more about it.
Using classmates’ work as your sample and guide is a common mistake when faced with this issue. It will be tempting to just look around or ask around and see what everyone else is doing, but it will likely turn out to be a bad idea. Your classmates are great resources when you want to have a discussion on the topics of the class, or when you want to know how a member of the general public might respond to your work. Their work may give you ideas on what to do going forward. But they might also be as confused as you are when it comes to the work of the class.
You did everything right, including asking the teacher your questions early, and they brushed you off and told you to go look it up on the internet, or go find a tutor.
Look it up on the internet. Go find a tutor. And do everything you can not to take any more classes with this instructor.
Your instructor can be thought of like a project consultant and supervisor at a paying job. Sometimes you get great ones, who are there with the goal of helping everyone meet the goals set for the project. Other times, you get good enough ones, there to lay out the requirements and rules and write evaluations (or grades), but not available for much else. And sometimes you get people who make you wonder why they took the job if actually doing the work makes them so miserable they can’t even bring themselves to do it.
Someone in class is harassing or threatening you, or doing something else that prevents you from completing your course.
In most college classes, you are going to encounter a wide variety of people. There will be people who differ from you in life experience, religious or spiritual beliefs, age, political affiliation, sexual orientation, goals for the class, and just plain attitude and personality.
You are there to learn and to strengthen skills, not to police other people for political correctness, whether that be left wing PC or right wing PC or just some general weird detail we all like to jump on each other for these days. Somebody disagreeing with you, seeing the world differently than you do, having different goals, or just plain not liking you is not harassment or a threat, and it is not stopping you from learning.
Stand up to people who are just run of the mill, everyday jerks. Don’t let a classmate talk over you, “correct” everything you say, or talk to you in a condescending tone. You have just as much right to be there as they do.
This is of course all very different from threatening or harassing behavior. If someone is threatening any type of harm to you, other students, staff, the school in general, or anyone else…say something right away. Take the instructor aside after class, or instant message them immediately in an online course, and let them know what’s going on.
These are just a few of the issues you may face as an adult learner. Look for future articles for solutions on failed research projects, lack of needed source material, and other academic problems…and their solutions.
by Jess Szabo originally published on Artist Cafe Utica www.artistcafeutica.com