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The AIU blog shares ideas, information and tips aimed at helping you get ahead personally and professionally, with topics ranging from online learning success to career development.

My First Week at AIU Online: An Inside Look from a Real Student’s Perspective

Image: AIU student Ebonie Townsend

To help share what it’s really like to pursue a degree while keeping up with the demands of a busy personal and professional life, new student Ebonie Townsend agreed to document her experience with regular posts on the AIU blog. Ebonie is pursuing an online business degree at AIU and currently works for Harrington College of Design, a member of the Career Education network of universities, colleges and schools. Read her latest blog post below.

Hi, everyone, my name is Ebonie and I’ve just started school at AIU Online. I’m going for a Bachelor of Business Administration with a specialization in Marketing.

Why am I here? After working in administrative functions for four years, I decided to harness my writing skills to pursue a career in PR and Communications. I’d done coursework previously at an on-ground university but took time off to build my resume and save for college. Fast forward to now -- as a newlywed with a full-time job, I thought AIU’s online program would be most conducive to my already-busy schedule.

As a seasoned college student, I was admittedly overly confident about orientation. I assumed there couldn’t possibly be anything new to learn at another one! As no two institutions are the same, I decided to participate anyway and I’m very glad I did! AIU uses learning platforms like intellipath and M.U.S.E. I’d never used either one, and orientation gave me the opportunity to test drive both of them in advance.

I thrive in learning environments that encourage student engagement and foster real, open dialogue, so I was a bit concerned about getting authentic human interaction and engagement from an exclusively online program. The highlight of my orientation was the Live Chat. We had returning students give us tips, and we connected with each other on other online platforms like LinkedIn and email. It was refreshing to get real feedback from my peers. It not only motivated me to begin classes, but it also gave me the opportunity to build a network with other students pursuing business degrees.

My first week was a learning experience! When you’re physically in a classroom setting, it’s easier to get into “school mode.” When you walk onto your college campus, you can take advantage of the school library or other study areas to get work done. When you’re taking courses online, in addition to working and having a family – as so many of my peers are – it’s easier for school to get lost in the shuffle. You literally have just a few days between when an assignment or Discussion Board post is due, one on Wednesday and the other before Sunday at midnight.

I’ve already had to pull an all-nighter for my first Individual Project! I had plenty of time to do my assignment, but then life happened. My workload became heavier at my day job, an unexpected dentist appointment took an entire evening I’d planned to study, and house chores fell behind. By the time I got my personal life in order, all of those days I had to do my project turned into it being due tomorrow.

Now that my first week is behind me, I’ve set a strict schedule for studying, research and assignments. I spend an hour before work at a nearby Starbucks to read, and I use three hours after work on Wednesdays and Thursdays to study when my husband works late. My first week at AIU Online has not only been full of lessons on business fundamentals and finance, but also of time management and work-life balance.

I’ve read the entire “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” series by Robert Kiyosaki and a ton of other business books for pleasure. I’m very excited to finally be studying business in an academic setting and I’m looking forward the coming weeks of learning with my peers and professor!

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