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Will and Janet at school bus.

First Day of School Jitters

As a mom of 2 kids, sending them off on the first day of school was always special, but the elementary school years were especially magical. Our kids’ backpacks and lunch boxes would be packed and ready on the eve of the first day, and the kids would choose what new outfit to wear. In the morning, I’d make a hot breakfast and snap photos of them before they marched off to a new school year.

Will and Janet at school bus.
First Day of School for Will and Janet in 2003.

I’m sure this scenario plays out in households everywhere, because the excitement of the first day of school is universal.

For students at NWTC, Thursday, Aug. 31, marks the start of the fall term. That means it’s the first day of school for thousands of students, including moms, dads, grandmas and grandpas who haven’t been in the classroom in a long time.

A milestone worth celebrating

I wonder if their kids and grandkids are the ones snapping photos. They should be! It’s a milestone that should be celebrated. By enrolling in college courses, they’re investing in themselves and making an effort to get ahead in the world.

My first day as a marketing student at NWTC was really low key. I was working full time, and my employer didn’t know I enrolled in classes. After work I ate a quick supper at home and then drove to Green Bay for my night class, Principles of Marketing.

First day of school marks a turning point in life

The moments leading up to my first day as an NWTC marketing student weren’t anything like the send-offs we gave our kids on their first day, except for one significant element. The first day of school marked a turning point in our lives.

I think it takes courage to return to college as an adult. When I stepped into my first marketing class I didn’t know a soul. I didn’t know where to sit, what to say to the other students in the class, or what to take out of my book bag. Just finding the right parking lot, building, and classroom seemed like a victory, and now I was in the classroom ready for who knew what!

It was comforting to see other returning adult students in the class, and our instructor Lisa O’Halloran made us all feel like we belonged.

Learning comes naturally

So, for all those students feeling the familiar First Day of School jitters, here’s my advice. Relax. Simply by registering for classes you have shown that you’re motivated and ready for a challenge. If you love the field that you’re going into, the learning will come naturally.

So, here’s to the first day of school! Shake off those jitters, and make it a great one.

online class instructor

10 Tips for Succeeding in An Online Class

online class instructor
Here I am with marketing instructor Ronnie Coyle.

I remember the uneasy feeling I had when my work schedule interfered with the Customer Service class I wanted to take at NWTC. I really didn’t like the idea of taking an online class. I was afraid I wouldn’t learn as much, and I thought I needed that weekly class time to keep me on track. As it turned out, I shouldn’t have worried. I completed my Associate degree by taking about half of my classes online.

10 strategies I used when enrolled in an online class

1. Know what’s expected.

At the start of class I picked up my textbook and read through the syllabus, course calendar, and emails from my instructor.

2. Keep it organized.

I created a folder on your computer for each online class and saved all of my documents to this folder. Sometimes I created subfolders to keep track of specific projects or multi-step assignments.

3. Listen to your advisor.

I checked with my marketing adviser when enrolling in a coding course. He suggested the in-person class because I didn’t have a solid background in coding. Your advisor should know what classes are tricky to take online. Just ask!

4. Plan for Success.

My online instructors assigned a “Personal Plan for Success” worksheet. It made me plan a strategy for the class (I did most of my course work on Sundays to avoid conflicts with work), plus a backup plan for handling “obstacles,” like unexpected computer problems.

5. Be ready to roll!

Only 2 weeks into my Customer Service class, a big project was due, the Service Culture Report. I couldn’t believe how much work it was, but it turned out to be one of the best learning experiences of the class.

6. Get friendly with your keyboard.

Plan to do a good amount of writing. Each week I posted comments and responses on the discussion board and typed up my assignments. If you’re not a strong typist, maybe online courses aren’t for you.

7. Ask for help.

The NWTC instructors are really helpful! I remember emailing my instructor, Ronnie Coyle, asking for more time to finish a tough assignment. For another assignment Ronnie sent me screenshots to explain something.

8. Deadlines come up quickly!

Keep track of what’s due and when it’s due. I printed off the course calendar, and I checked off the assignments as I completed them.

9. Don’t leave the party early.

I remember leaving a summer picnic long before sunset because I had an assignment due. Plan ahead, otherwise you might regret signing up for the class.

10. Your grades matter!

Recently, my daughter was asked to submit her college transcript while interviewing for a job. Some employers and most schools will want to see your transcript when you’re applying. The grade you earn in an online class will show up on your transcript, and that grade is just as important as any other. Make sure you put in the effort you need to succeed.