The Third Shift: Maintaining Your Sanity While Going to College

We women talk A LOT about finding "balance." Well, maybe I should say "you." As someone who isn't married and doesn't have any kids, I don't know how most of you do it. I can't even balance my checkbook let alone kids' carpools and soccer games, date night, and 8 or more hours of work each day. If you've got kids, you're pretty much the Duggars to me.

And beyond just doing what women do--working and supporting and nurturing families--we have little things like the gender pay gap to worry about too.  As News & Politics Contributing Editor Mata recently noted in her post "Gender and Race Pay Gaps: How a Wal-Mart Greeter Might Just Help Us All," women still lag behind men in median earnings--earning 22.2 less than men.  And this is in spite that fact that men and women are earn about the same number of baccalaurete degrees according to the new Census figures.

That means one of the only options for many women is to pursue more education--adding what author Cheris Kramarae called "The Third Shift" to their daily lives.(As if we don't already have enough shifts!) In a report on women and online learning published by the American Association of University in 2001, Kramarae noted that women began flocking towards online courses because of the increase flexibility and convenience they offer.

And that trend continues for all students.  In fact, in its seventh annual online learning report, the Sloan Cosortium found that more than one quarter of higher education students now take at least one course online, and the recession has only increased the demand across the board--no matter the kind of institution.

This is all good news for women who need education options that fit into their lifestyles. Being able to take classes when and where you want to is a relatively new idea, but an idea whose time has clearly come.

In fact, while I was researching online education as a part of my job for, I was inspired to create a fun way to celebrate the educational freedom that is now possible--the "Show Us Your Classroom" video contest brings to light the reality that most college students are not traditional students anymore and that it's possible to learn anywhere, anytime if you have the discipline. You can check out the seed videos we created on our YouTube channel.  They're a lot of fun.



Are you working the third shift? How do you manage?


Yours, Tracy Viselli (a.k.a. Myrna the Minx)

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