This entry originally appeared on my disability blog, I hate stairs.

I was doing a decent job of keeping up with my writing schedule (okay, I was a little off) until about two weeks ago, when I got bombarded with school. And I mean bombarded. Due dates and deadlines came at me like linebackers after a quarterback. My email inbox began to overflow. My extra-curricular involvement fizzled. I started missing assignments. I turned in below-average homework. I did kind of bad (I think) on an Accounting exam and then bombed miserably on a Finance exam. On top of all that, I’ve had a sinus infection and some stomach issues. The past two weeks have been some of the worst weeks I can remember having in my college career. I had to regroup. So I came up with a plan.

I was originally taking four classes this semester. Marketing Research is full semester and in-person. Finance 1 and Accounting are intensive, 8-week classes that take place first term (i.e. the first half of the semester). Management of IT and Systems is also an intensive, 8-week online class scheduled for second term. Like this:

Fall 2008 Class Schedule

Fall 2008 Class Schedule

I decided last semester that online classes would be better for me since I work well using a computer. Unfortunately, I didn’t consider the disadvantages of online classes. The first is that I retain most of the test material during lectures. I don’t retain a lot from reading, especially if I read through entire chapters. If I skim, I tend to miss everything. Well, online classes don’t have much lecturing. Accounting does have some useful video lectures, but Finance is lacking.

The second disadvantage is that exams are usually open-book and open-note. Obviously, distance learners cannot be proctored as well as their in-person counterparts. Most professors assume that students will use the book and or notes. To compensate, professors write more difficult questions. Open book tests are usually a disadvantage to me because it is difficult for me to flip through a book, much less at the same time I’m writing or typing. I hate textbooks. While it is possible to get digital copies, it can take weeks or even months of dealing with large, bureaucratic publishing companies. So I end up not using a book, but still having to answer tough questions.

Combined, these disadvantages (and the fact that some of the classes are intensive) left me taking a Finance midterm for which I was completely unprepared, without my book and notes, having to use a mouse, keyboard, and financial calculator at once. I nibbled on it, realizing I was getting nowhere, then turned it in mostly incomplete. I talked with my advisor today and dropped the class. The unfortunate result is that it is not offered in person next semester (my last). I will be forced to take it online again. But at least Accounting will be done. And now I know what to expect. I will plan out my tests with DSS so I can get some accommodations (writer and extended time).

As you can see, I’ve been busy. But some of the pressure is off now.