For at least an hour or two last Sunday, it seemed as though everything was going as planned.
I was stretched out on a blanket in a nearby park, reviewing the first four chapters of the textbook for my online class as I enjoyed the sun and the fall breeze.
The plan was to head back to my apartment around 5 p.m. or so, and then take my first graded exam. I was feeling good about the test, and even better about the prospect of a nice, relaxing evening catching up on "Homeland" afterward.
As I packed up my bag, my thoughts drifted to our class's first discussion board assignment.
At some point during the month, I knew we were required to log in to the online discussion board for the class and respond to a question about our financial goals. The post would take some research, if I remembered correctly, and would count for a significant part of our grade.
I'd thought the assignment was due in a few weeks, but I pulled my syllabus out of my bag just to double-check the date.
Good thing I did, since the deadline for the post was in about seven hours.
[Discover tips for succeeding in an online course.]
I felt panicky, and then sorry for myself as I realized I'd have to cancel my TV date. To make the long night more palatable, I decided to order Indian food – this was not a disciplined budget move, but I didn't care.
On the walk back home I was forced to face the sad state of my organization and time management skills. Most students probably wrote down their deadlines at least somewhere, while all I had done was highlight parts of my syllabus, which practically lived on my bedroom floor.
I made a vow to myself to create a calendar with my test and assignment deadlines. Somehow I managed to do this at work, so I figured I could do it for school, too.
It was a simple step, and one recommended by education experts. That said, a small voice in my head doubted whether I'd actually follow through.
[Avoid the mistakes many online students make.]
After my chicken karahi was on its way, I settled down on the couch and got to work. According to the discussion board instructions, we needed to describe the biggest threat to our own financial security while citing exactly three sources to back up our points. Then, in two weeks, we had to respond to two posts by our classmates.
I had no idea what to write. I needed an original post, but that was a challenge since I was following in the footsteps of classmates who actually submitted the assignment ahead of time. After skimming a dozen or so news articles, I decided to write about how a failure to resolve the debt ceiling dilemma could result in a financial crisis far worse than the 2008 downturn.
If that sounds like it was pushing it, that's because it was. I only kind of understood what I was writing. Nevertheless, I finished writing in two hours what I thought would take me three or four.
After giving myself a refresher on how to cite works and on academic style, I hit "submit" at 11:45 p.m.
At midnight I checked to see if any of my classmates had cut it as close as I did. But nope, I was officially in last place.
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