What We Wish We Would Have Known
Tips from Current and Former MARA Students


Published: September 15, 2020 by Kenna Wulker

Fall semester is here and now that we’re about a month in, hopefully, you all are getting into your routine. Oftentimes, navigating online programs can be challenging. We’ve all heard the generic tips for success in school – study, get some sleep, be prepared, etc. However, as the saying goes, hindsight is 20/20. When you’re at the end of your MARA journey, it’s natural to look back at your time in the program and all you’ve accomplished. Read on to hear what some current and past MARA students wish they would have known when they started out.

Give yourself time to adjust! – Melissa K., Danielle P.

Having a fully online program is a different beast than attending in person classes. We often have new technology to learn and getting in the swing of virtual classes can be challenging. One student suggests carving out some extra time to get acquainted with Canvas and other online resources. Making sure you know how to navigate your courses and modules will save you a lot of headaches later on. Giving yourself a little grace can help you reduce the stress of starting out each semester.

Plan Ahead! – Wendy L., Samantha R.

Planning ahead has been named time and time again as one of the biggest tips for MARA students. Maintaining a solid work/life/school balance can be challenging, but the key to success is planning your schedule and managing your workload. Whether you choose to take one, two, or more classes at once, time management is vital to your success. One student suggests logging in every Sunday night and spending 15 minutes going through the newly opened modules to plan out your work for the week ahead. By doing so, you can ensure there are no surprises in your school work that’ll derail you from meeting your deadlines.

Log in early and often! – Emily S.

One of the biggest benefits of online programs is flexibility, but as previously stated, you’ll want to plan ahead. By logging on daily or every other day, you can stay up to date on class demands and deadlines and plan your schedule accordingly. One MARA student suggests carving our more time than you initially think you’ll need for each class. Online school can move fast to cover course material, so make sure you’re giving yourself the adequate time to read, study, and digest all the new information.

Learn about the e-Portfolio now! – Lisle P., Jenna E., Christine P.

The MARA program is an attractive option to so many because we don’t have to complete a Thesis to graduate. Instead, the MARA program opts for an e-Portfolio to prove we’ve become proficient in MARA’s set core competencies. Find those here. If you can organize your saved work by competency, it will save you time and stress in your final semester. You can utilize Canvas to organize your comps, but others have found a spreadsheet help to organize by competency. To learn more about the e-Portfolio, click here

Learn about your classmates and get involved! – Danielle P.

Our MARA students hail from a wide background. Some students have been in the RIM field for years with established careers, some are just breaking into the field, and others are seeking this degree before finding employment in the field at all. Don’t compare yourself to others in the program, but take this opportunity to learn from them and educate yourself. This wide array of knowledge is an advantage to our program and networking with your peers can help you gain insight, learn more about the career and available pathways, and explore the vast variety of options. If you’re struggling to connect with students in your classes, consider joining an iSchool student group. To learn more, click here.

Remember to take care of yourself outside of schoolwork! -Cecilia M., Emily S.

Mental and physical health are so important, more so now than ever! If anything has taught us to make our mental and physical health a priority, it’s 2020. The pandemic has really brought their personal health into perspective for a lot of people. While pursuing our degrees, many students are working full or part time jobs, others are raising families, and some students are doing both or more. Life is busy! Taking some time out of your day or week to take a breather, see some friends, or get in a walk/workout is a simple way to keep yourself on track and avoid feeling burnt out. In order to do our best, we need to feel our best. 

Don’t be afraid to ask for help or change your plans! – Lisle P., Suzanne G.

Life happens! We’re all humans with lives outside of school. Sometimes we take a class and just can’t wrap our minds around a concept and that’s okay! You may start the program and realize you need to drop down to part time or take a semester off. Adjusting your plans or asking for help, be it from your fellow classmates, a professor, or Dr. Franks is never frowned upon. Reaching out when you need help is normal and we’re all here to help each other get through.

As current and former MARA students, we wish we would have had this insight when we were starting out. Hopefully, these tips are beneficial to you as you work your way through the program!


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