The start of my online course has been a little rockier than I'd prefer.
Earning a "C" on my first practice quiz wasn't all too uplifting, and now it seems I may have fallen behind on my first assignment.
I've been trying to check my university email every two or three days, but work got a little crazy recently and I let almost a week fly by without logging in.
When I finally did, I saw an old message from our professor: We were supposed to be tracking every cent of our spending as of the first of the month.
This seemed like an unnecessarily painstaking task to me. Won't my bank statement tell me how many needless chai teas I bought last month? But if it was actually required, then I was already a week behind.
A mild wave of panic came over me, and then the realization that I'd been here many times before.
I've always been a good student, but it takes me longer than most to get my academic sea legs. In college and grad school I'd often misplace my syllabus, or simply not check it, and find out I had a paper due in a day from a friend I happened to run into in the library. I didn't do my reading in increments, as suggested, but rather in all-night cram sessions a day or two before a test – if I did it at all.
It's one thing to have that experience in your 20s, but now that I've got a career and a few more years under my belt, I have higher expectations of myself.
Feeling humbled, I logged in to class and wrote a message on one of our discussion boards asking what to do if we got a late start on tracking our spending.
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I was surprised to find that I was only the second student in our class of 30 who posted questions on our discussion board about the course – my previous post was about where to find the practice quiz. In the eyes of my classmates, I must have looked incredibly nerdy or incredibly lost.
Despite the initial hiccups, I have had some positive experiences with the course so far.
The second chapter in my book, "Money Management," provided some good tips for taking control of your finances. I have only implemented one tip to date – I increased my contribution to my 401(k) – but at least I know what steps to take in the next few weeks.
Among them: organize my financial documents, draft a personal income statement, focus on little ways to save and create a budget I will actually follow.
I know tracking my spending closely will be key to crafting that budget, though I don't think I have it in me to write down every expense until I hear back from our professor that it's absolutely required.
In the meantime, I've learned my first lesson about online learning: When your professor tells you to check your email every day, she actually means it.
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