Should we make time for higher education?

Today for the first time the email inbox held an uplifting and inspiring note from a Walden University student studying Public Policy and Administration specifically focusing on E-Government.
Since 1998, the number of people visiting the website has gone up and down, but rarely has it inspired such an inspiring and thought provoking note. Rarely does another student take the time to read other students papers let alone spend over an hour reading the non-academic work of another student. Walden University is about continuing education based on the assumption that learning should never stop, because an informed society is an empowered society. People are always surprised at the number of military affiliated students at Walden University pursuing the path of higher education. Given the Walden University specialties in critical incident planning and emergency response management it is rare to see a student with a military background studying E-Government.
Certainly, studying the effects of technology on an organization is part of the field of E-Government that focuses on understanding how information exchange occurs and what that information actually does within the organization. Looking at the exchange of information between different parts of government is an interesting area of study, and breaking that relationship down to specific points in the process creates the possibility of building an actual model of information exchange in government.
Any journey through the higher education involves experiences with professors, students, and discussions with people outside the ivory tower. Walden University is lucky to have well spoken, compelling, and engaging professors like Dr. Steven Maclin who has the ability to motivate students by inspiring and encouraging intellectual curiosity.
Students often ask how to managing the continuing education experience of working forty to sixty hours a week and being a responsible student. Online education to some degree is asynchronous creating the opportunity for students to interact while being on very different schedules; sometimes even from different countries. Being a responsible student is not about dedicating a specific amount of time online, but instead is about dictating a certain level of engagement with other students. Taking the time to login into the online classroom and responding to at least one other student every day, turn in an assignment, or ask the professor a question is a way to stay engaged and motivated. Instead of focusing on how much time to spend online, focusing on maintaining a level of engagement will probably require less time and be more rewarding. Certainly, a difference exists between daily class work and term papers, which require dedicating a small amount of time every day between the announcement of the assignment and the date the assignment is actually due.
Why stress the importance of engagement instead of committing a certain amount of time? It is easy to login to an online classroom and read the comments of other students and then sign off without being involved, but that is not how a responsible student should approach education. Most students login two or three times a week and spend between half an hour and an hour reading assignments and exchanging dialogue with other students. Taking the time to login almost every day can take five minutes or an hour depending on what day of the week it is, but the constancy creates a fluid online experience that allows a student to see discussions develop throughout the week.
One of the best ways to make sure that enough time exists in a week to be a professional and a student is to take half an hour in the morning or before bed specifically devoted to interacting with other students. Sometimes warming up breakfast and booting up the computer at the same time is a way to spend a few minutes engaging in discussion without devoting hours at a time. Working every day changes the way time allocating is assigned to major papers and assignments, which require more time and a higher degree of focus than engaging in banter with other students. When commenting becomes an everyday activity that is no longer time consuming then allocating larger blocks of time for writing papers becomes the task instead of having a larger list of smaller tasks.
Higher education is worthwhile ambition and a doctoral degree is something that will always represent a certain level of attainment. Getting a doctoral degree is more about providing a certain level of dedication, motivation, and understanding than it is about demonstrating knowledge. Specific recommendations aside address higher education by being compelling, assertive, and authoritative throughout the process. Remember that the most of the time self-censorship prevents people from achieving greatness. If earning a doctoral degree in public policy and administration is something that matters, then do not let self-censorship limit the future.