6 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Take an Online Math Course 

6 Questions to Ask Before You Enroll in Online Classes

Many students decide to take online classes but there are some questions to ask yourself before you decide to do this for a math class.

We have to understand that some courses lend themselves better to an online environment than others. I have taken Anatomy and Physiology, Sociology, Human Resource Management and other Education courses in an online environment. By far, the content of these courses lent itself very well to the online environment. They were all information driven courses.

Counting Mathematics Meaning One Two Three And Number Educating
Mathematics is a horse of a different color.

Mathematics is skill-based.  You are constantly learning a skill and then applying it.  For example, if you learn how to solve equations, then you will be solving equations in various situations.

Question 1:  Can you handle receiving information without a live demonstration?

You will need to have to view lectures, power-points or some other visual demonstration of the processes and this will most likely occur online or asynchronously instead of synchronously.   When you learn asynchronously,  the instructor is not live or online when you are viewing the lecture.  If it is synchronous,  the instructor has announced a live session and you are given information to  and it won’t be live more than likely. A lot of students are not prepared for this reality. Some schools or instructors offer live tutorial sessions or live demonstrations but many do not provide this. Some schools require students to attend these live demonstrations but most do not have this requirement. If you are a person who needs a live demonstration, then an online math class is not for you unless it offers live demonstrations. If that course does offer live demonstrations, then you have to attend them and this is a non-negotiable. Clear your schedule and make it happen. If you don’t do this and begin to struggle, then that is the first thing that your instructor is going to require of you. Be prepared that you must deal with the reality that you are in an asynchronous environment unless they have live classes. If you are a person who needs a live demonstration, then taking an online math class is just not going to sit well with you.

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Questions to ask yourself

Question 2: Can you study on your own by reading the chapters, working the examples and viewing the power-point or video lectures?

Online classes are set up to be either synchronous or asynchronous. When a class is synchronous, the professor is generally online at a specific day or time for the purpose of providing live instruction. Those times are generally announced ahead of time and occur on a weekly basis or more frequently. This happens a lot when a class is a hybrid course. In a hybrid course, there is some live instruction that occurs on a regular basis such as weekly, bi-weekly or monthly. If you are in a class that is asynchronous, the instructor may not offer any live chats or demonstration at all or that person may do them and upload the recordings. You pretty much proceed through the information without a lot of direct help. If you know that you need a live person working through the examples, then you need to enroll in a class that is face to face.

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Do you have at least three hours per day to devote to studying?

Question 3: Do you have at least 3 hours daily that you can devote to studying and even more on the weekends?

Time management is a big issue in online courses because you have to be disciplined enough to complete the work on your own and adhere to deadlines. Managing the time you have is one thing but the time must still be available to be managed. Many people are simply over-committed and over-scheduled. For example, I got an email from one student who emailed me because she was taking five classes and working two jobs and could not stay on track with her assignments. She simply did not have enough time to do her work in so many courses. You cannot be over-committed in terms of work responsibilities and be a full time online student.

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Can you keep track of weekly assignments?

Question 4: Are you organized enough to keep track of weekly assignments?

With an online course,  you will have weekly assignments that are due by the end of that week.  Most instructors will allow some leeway with being late while others will not allow any late assignments.  Be sure that you can handle the stress of having a weekly due date.

Advice Help Indicating Assisting Assist And Helps
Are you organized enough to keep track of weekly assignments?

One of the unfortunate things about our instantaneous microwave age is that we expect things instantly.  This is why IM is such a hit;  we want to get an answer and, I mean, right now.  We want everything done very quickly.  In short, we don't like process.  Here is what you have to keep in mind:  your instructor may not be available to answer your question instantly.   Is that going to freak you out??

Is Online Math Right For Me?

Question 5. Can you handle not being able to obtain immediate assistance? 

Sometimes you may have a question to which you cannot find the answer on your own.  You may email your instructor but that person may not be able to give you the answer immediately due to their own schedule.  Some people are too impatient and want the answer NOW.  If you know that you are one of these people,  you are going to have to develop the art of patience.

Anxiety Fear Puzzle Meaning Anxious Or Afraid

Question 6. Can you silence your math anxiety or at least handle your math anxiety in order to persevere through tough moments in the class?

You have to become aware of when your math anxiety is overtaking you and blocking your learning.  If you have fear,  fear will block your learning.  There are times when fear is helpful but this is not one of those times!

You have to learn some strategies for dealing with anxiety.  I tell students to journal out the past experience.  Respond to the experience as an adult would if you were a child when it happened.   When you hear that inner critic,  respond in a positive way.  Tell yourself you can do this.  Tell yourself that you can pass the course.  No one rises to low expectations.



Do You Really Have The Time For An Online Math Course?

Spend time reading, viewing lectures, viewing power-point presentations, etc. so that you interact with the content in a variety of ways.

I was naive when I first took an online class.  I thought it would require the same expenditure of time that I usually spent in a face-to-face class.  After having completed several degrees,  I was a bit jaded and I thought "How hard could this be?"   I should have had a clue from being an online teacher but I didn't.   Like many students,  I UNDERESTIMATED the time involved to do the work.  Boy, oh boy, was I wrong!


Continue reading Do You Really Have The Time For An Online Math Course?

Suggestions for Carving Out Study Time

Time management is a challenge for everyone!



I received an email from a student this week lamenting about not having enough time to do the coursework.  Part of what I do with my students is also just coaching them through the course with encouraging tips and tutoring.  So,  I just inquired about her time and asked how it was being spent.  We had an assignment where the students had to post their typical day and what they did during that day.

Time management is a challenge for everyone.  We all have the same 24 hours,  7 days that we have to use as effectively as possible.  If you are going to school and working, your time is squeezed even more so!  Going to school is a toll road.  You will have to pay the price for going to school and it takes the form of making hard choices regarding your time.  No fun!  Sacrificing one thing in the short term for long term gain is always more profitable.

Why is that so challenging to find time to do ANYTHING that is positive in your life?

Exercising,  running those needed errands,  fixing a healthy meal, studying,  spending time with your family and significant other in addition to going to work and attending to school:  all of these items are much needed in your life and ALL of them compete equally for your attention.   If we embark on anything that will positively impact our lives,  expect to go through challenges.

The best way to manage clock time is to realize how you are managing your real time.

The issue is that we need help managing REAL TIME, which is the time that we manage by the clock,  rather than CLOCK TIME.   The best way to manage clock time is to realize how you are managing your real time.  The best way to measure your real time is to write down what you do during the course of a day or week.    But, you knew this.  If we keep a food journal,  we know we always lose weight.  If you use the envelope system for your budget, you automatically save more money.  ACCOUNTABILITY IS AN AWESOME WONDER!  When we add the element of accountability, we automatically perform better.  WHY?  Because you can no longer hide behind the curtain of ignorance.  When we write it down, we know what is happening.  Numbers don't lie.


Task 1:  So,  let's make out a schedule of our activities.

I know you are whining now.  But it is a necessary thing.  We have to count the cost.  If you don't know how much time you have to devote to studying,  you will always be playing catch up because you haven't carved out the time.

Let’s check out this time by doing a weekly schedule that includes what you do Monday thru Friday and a different one for Saturday and Sunday.  Here's how:

  1. Write down the time you spend working each day as it applies to you.
  2. If you drive to work,  write down the time you spend commuting to work.
  3. Write down time spent doing activities such as cooking, working on homework with your kids, etc.  If you spend time during your waking hours doing it,  write it down.

This is a sample that one student submitted:

  • Commute to work 1 hour
  • Work time: 8 hrs. 8-5
  • Commuting to work: 1 hr. Arrive home around 6
  • Cooking and doing homework, getting them ready for school:  6-8 pm
  • Spending time with significant other/tv/social media: 8-10 pm
  • Getting ready for bed:  10-11 pm
  • Sleep: 11-7

There were two things that jumped out at me about this submission:  the time spent socializing face to face and online and the sleep time.   Looking at this schedule,  I found that there wasn't much time left for studying and this person was taking three courses!  So,  that means something has to be cut!  But, but more about this later....

Task 2:  Look for patterns of time wasters, revise and/or eliminate them.


After you have made your schedule,  look it over.  As you do this,  you should start seeing patterns and you will have some "A-HA" moments. You may see that you are spending too much time watching TV or on social media.   Instead of watching TV with your spouse or significant other, why not actually talk to them????   In our social media conscious world,  I see people who go out to eat and NOBODY IS TALKING TO EACH OTHER because they are all on their phones!    One thing that was drilled into me in coaching was to be fully present when someone is talking to you.   I find that giving someone your undivided attention is the most loving thing that you can do.  You are fully present and that is the best gift possible. You may find that the social media time can be cut out during the week and wait until the weekend.  You are going to have to find the time from somewhere!

Suggestion:  I had to be direct with this student and just suggest that some of the time be cut out where they were watching TV or sleeping.  Everything else I found to be necessary.  As a parent,  you have to supervise children as they do their homework and you also have to fix a meal.   The only thing left to reduce was the social media time, TV time or sleep.  I suggested to the student to do the following: cut out your TV watching time and actually spend time with those you love.  If you are watching TV,  carry on a conversation about what you are watching.  This is a bit more engaging than just sitting there.

You may have to sacrifice some shut-eye to get all of your studies done.

If you are a person who is accustomed to  more sleep,  you will have to make a choice: either you will have to sacrifice some sleep or not do as well in your coursework because you are not devoting enough time to your studies.  Remember,  that you are not giving up sleep forever;  just temporarily for a course or to finish your degree.  I found that my easiest time to cut was on my sleep time!  Horrors!  Oh, yes,  that 8 hours of sleep might be on the chopping block in order to get it all done.


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Or,  you may find that some nights you spend with your significant other and other nights you study.  I suggest that you tell your significant other or spouse what you plan to do and get their feedback.  Let them know that this is a temporary thing to ease their worries.  Look at your weekend schedule.  What activities can you cut from there?  I spent a lot of time exercising on the weekend that I had to cut down.  For example,  our gym had a two hour Saturday morning class that I attended.  I let that one go to spend more time with my spouse.  The gym also had a Sunday afternoon spin class.  Sometimes, I attended the class and sometimes I didn't.

What worked for me was to alternate the nights that I would stay up later than usual so that I didn't become too sleep deprived.  For example,  if I stayed up late Monday night,  I went to bed either on time or earlier on Tuesday night.  In this way,  I didn't become too sleep deprived.

If you are an exercise warrior, like I was,  you may find that you have to cut down some exercise time in order to get your studying done.  For me,  I had to watch my time and exercise alone a lot of times because the classes that I normally took did not fit into my schedule.  I cut it down to about 30-45 minutes per day instead of the normal 90 minutes because I just could not get it all done.

A final note:

I  don't advocate that people have full time jobs and take a full load of classes.  I just don't think that it is worth the sacrifice in your mental and physical energy.  You may be thinking that you will finish earlier and all that.  I haven't seen people be successful doing this.  By successful,  I mean that they earned the grades that they wanted to earn and didn't pay a price on their jobs or with their families.  To me,  it just is not worth it.  Chances are that you will wind up re-taking some of them because you didn't have the time to effectively study.  That adds more time and more money.  Or,  you may not make the grades that you desire.  Some people cannot handle that  If you are doing this,  God bless you!  I just never did it myself.  Here is why:  I had a full time job that was demanding.  My second job was teaching online classes for a local college.  I just didn't have the time to do more than two classes.  Taking two classes really pushed me time-wise.  I couldn't handle more than that and be successful.


What patterns are you seeing in your schedule?  Comment below on your best time management tips in general.



How Long Should I Spend Studying In My Online Class???

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How much time is required in online classes?

More time than you think it will.  I'm being forthright and honest about this.  Most people do not realize that taking online classes has to be the equivalent to the ground class but delivered in an online format.

Most people are under the following false impressions:

  1. Taking online classes is easy.

  2. I can proceed through the course at my own pace.

  3. I can work on assignments until I mastery the content.


All 3 of these are false!

Let's debunk these myths one by one!

  1. Taking online classes is not easy;  it is just a different mode of delivery.  It may be easier on you in some ways because you don't have to drive to a campus and sit through a lecture.  That may not be an option for you, especially if you have children and no child care.

  2. You cannot proceed through the course at your own pace,  in most cases.  You will have deadlines and a pacing calendar to keep up with.  Assignments will open at a certain point in time and close at a certain point in time.   Some colleges and professors allow for extensions but most do not.  You will need to clarify with your professor whether extensions are allowed without penalty.

  3. As noted above,  assignments will generally open and close by a certain time so that means you are locked into the pace of the course.  That may not allow for mastery of the content, in all cases,  but you will be responsible for making a certain score by a certain time.

You are doing to have to do the EXACT SAME THINGS AS IN A GROUND COURSE.

Continue reading How Long Should I Spend Studying In My Online Class???

5 Things to Do When You Get Behind in Your Online Class



It happens.  You have started a new term and everything is chugging along smoothly.  You are understanding the work.  Your grades are good.  You have your schedule juggling the job,  school and family down pat.


Then,  it happens.  One child gets sick with the flu and then the other child.  Your spouse or significant other gets sick.  You spend a week nursing everyone else until they start to mend.  As soon as you start back logging in to your classes and completing work,  then it happens.


Down with the flu!

Finally,  the flu puts you down for the count.   While all of this is going on,  you really hadn't made time to do anything in your online math class other than log in and complete a few assignments that were due LAST WEEK.  You haven't even had time to read not one section to know how to work one problem from this week.  On top of that,  the content looks like it is Greek.  Literally.

Continue reading 5 Things to Do When You Get Behind in Your Online Class

Paying the Toll

Paying the Toll:  4 ways to make returning to school less stressful

Taking online classes will extract a toll on your life: are you willing to pay the cost?
Taking online classes will extract a toll on your life: are you willing to pay the cost?

While traveling in Florida,  we decided to get on a toll road because the toll road was a faster route to our destination.  Once you get on a toll road,  it is difficult to get off that road.  There is often no turn-a-round lane.  Once you are on the road,  you are committed to paying the cost of the toll.  Some roads have a small toll,  $.50 or so.  Others may cost several dollars for you to travel it.  No matter the cost,  you must pay the toll.  A toll is a transaction:  you pay the toll in exchange for riding on the road.

Enrolling in college is an exciting event in your life. Finally,  I am getting things going in my life.  Finally,  I am going to complete a degree and be able to provide better for my family.  Finally,  I am on the road to fulfilling a dream.  Finally, indeed.  But it involves a toll as well.  You will have to give up substantial free time for studying.  You will have to give up some family time in order to study.  You will have to sacrifice some sleep.  You may have to even adjust your work schedule so that you have time to study or for class.  These are all tolls.

Taking online classes will extract a toll on your life: are you willing to pay the cost?

Many people have the mistaken idea that taking classes online is EASIER than taking classes face to face.  Nothing can be further from the truth.  It is just that the mechanism for receiving the information has changed.  You will still have to do the reading on your own and complete your assignments.  Instead of having face to face lectures,  your lectures are videotaped or it may have some live webinars.  Your assignments will be completed all online or mostly online. After teaching mathematics online for almost ten years now,  I have seen many students come to this realization, some slowly and others quickly.  They honestly confess the following:

"I didn't think it would involve this much of my time in terms of reading and completing assignments."

" I didn't think I would have to lose this much sleep in order to stay on top of things!"

"I didn't think of how much of my free time that I spent with my spouse, significant other, children, would now be allocated to schoolwork!"

"I spend my down time at work doing schoolwork instead of scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed!"


Tolls can take on many forms.


Taking online classes will extract a toll on your life: are you willing to pay the cost?
Tolls can take on many forms.

Remember that you are a college student without the dorm life.  Although you may not realize it,  many institutions are not always adaptable to students who work and have families.  They are really set up for the traditional college student without a job or family to attend to.  This means that the workload will be designed for a student who has nothing else to do but school work.  IHL"s are slowly changing but you will find that the strictly online ones will be the most adaptable to your situation.


4 Suggestions for Reducing your Stress

  1.  Take just two classes at a time.

One of the things that I found helpful when taking online classes was to only take two classes at a time, no matter how far off track it took me. It didn't matter whether I was teaching,  doing curriculum work or being an assistant principal,  I often had to work at home.  So,  I set up my classes so that I only took two at a time.  That took a toll in terms of my being behind in my program but it helped me in not getting too overwhelmed.  There were times when I just wanted to spend it with my family or friends but I had to do schoolwork. Even then,  I felt conflicted.

There will be times when you will feel conflicted between school and job; school and family; school and ______(fill in the blank).  I know this feeling!    Just know that you won't have to do it all the time because it won't always be like this.


2.  Streamline some common activities such as exercise, cleaning,  and errands.

If you have some items on your chart that can be streamlined in terms of time,  you will have to do this in order to be successful in online classes.  We have to make hard choices in order to be successful, particularly in this class.  You may need to combine some items so that they fulfill two obligations.  For example,  I would mow my grass and that was my gym workout for that day.  That meant, I checked off two things off my list.  I know friends who took their kids to the park and they played various family sports.  That fulfilled two items:  family time and activity time.   I have to say that when I was actively taking doctoral classes,  I had to streamline my commitments.  Instead of spending 2 hours at the gym,  I used HIIT and was in and out in thirty minutes.  I didn’t attend ball games or concerts as previously and I didn’t hang out with friends as much.  I chose to spend more time with my family and close friends;  the acquaintances were out.

It will reduce your stress if you streamline as many activities that are not totally necessary for you and your family.  Only you can know what these activities are and can make these decisions.


3.  Make your schedule of daily tasks to complete in your classes and put these deadlines in your phone.

Math classes, as I know,  tend to be very time intensive because you have to do several things in order to complete your assignments e g. read the reading assignments,  work practice problems,  complete your discussion assignment problems correctly the first time and then complete the assignments.  That requires an expenditure of time.  All of this requires time.

Look over your assignments for each week and make a schedule for that week that outlines when you will complete an assignment and on what day.   Then, put those due dates in your phone as a reminder.  Put the reminder early enough in the day so that you will remember to complete it ON TIME.  If you have assignments that are due by 11 pm, then your reminder needs to be set for the early afternoon to allow time for you to submit it by the deadline.