All of the Weathers

mcBy Dr. Michael Cottam

A few months ago, a colleague from Phoenix, Arizona came to visit St. Louis for a couple of weeks in February. Near the end of his visit he observed “Over the past 10 days I have experienced all of the weathers! We don’t get that in Phoenix.” As a native of Phoenix and a transplant to St. Louis, I appreciated his comment.

I laughed as I considered our week. The day before he arrived we had three inches of snow, which was still on the ground when he arrived. Within three days, the snow had melted and we had a warm day in the park with 76 degree weather. That evening we had a heavy rainstorm and a lightning show in the clouds. Three days later, we had a slushy snow storm that resulted in downed power lines and school closures. A day later the snow was mostly melted and we were back into the 40s.

It is now mid-August, it is hot and muggy in St. Louis, and in Phoenix, and we are about to begin another year of learning at Webster University all around the globe. What do “all the weathers” have to do with online learning or earning your degree?

I think that the weather offers a good analogy to how our busy, overcommitted lives go these days. Whether you are just beginning your degree or are returning after a very short summer break, it’s important to recognize the signs and prepare for what is coming.

One day you may be moving along well in your family, your career, and in your studies. Everyone is well and relatively happy. Your boss is pleased with your contributions as work. Your classes are going well as you participate in discussions, pass tests, and write incredibly insightful research. The next day your daughter gets sick and you have to pick her up from school. You end up working late on a project for your day-job to make up for lost time. Before you know it, that paper you were working on goes to the back burner. You find yourself turning it in at the last possible minute: 11:59 pm on Wednesday night. You feel pretty good about that paper until you get your feedback from your instructor telling you that you need to rewrite half of it.

That beautiful day in the park just turned into a lightning storm that keeps you up all night.

The question is, what can you do about it? How can you successfully navigate all of the weathers of life while juggling family responsibilities, a career and your education?

There is no easy answer; however, we have a few tips that might help you prepare for the weather, and handle the lightning storms that will inevitably come.

Peer Tips:

Department Tips:

We extend a warm welcome to you from the Online Learning Center at Webster University. We are excited for you as you embark on another year of learning and personal growth!


Dr. Michael Cottam is Director and AVP for Online Learning for Webster University

Featured Image Source taken by Jarred Truschke