A day in the life of principal and online student

Managing study with work, and all of life’s other commitments, might seem challenging, but as Aleasa Brink has discovered throughout her journey as an online student, it comes down to preparation and time management.


Master of Education online student, Aleasa Brink, takes us through her average day and how she manages study with life commitments.

As a primary school principal, wife and mother, Aleasa has found the perfect routine that enables her to balance it all. She recently shared this with us and is keen to spread the word to teachers and educators who are considering further study.

Tips for balancing online study on a typical work day

Aleasa wakes up early and checks Blackboard using the app on her phone, while staying snuggled up in bed. She responds to any messages in discussion boards, checks emails for work and study, and develops a ‘priority list’ for the day.

Family time is important to her, so she makes sure that she gets between half an hour and 45 minutes to enjoy breakfast, get herself ready for work and her son ready for daycare.

She utilises her drive to work as quiet time for strategic thinking; where she thinks about the topics that are being covered in her current unit of study and how they apply to her work at school. She says:

“I draw connections and I plan how I can best align study to current issues or what’s happening in my school.”

“This is a very productive time for me. I use voice to text on my phone to send myself notes on ideas I want to remember later on.”

Before and between classroom commitments, she tries to complete 15 minutes of study here, half an hour there. Depending on the time, it may be extra readings, completing a weekly quiz or working on an assignment. She also pinches times to quickly check the discussion boards to stay up-to-date with what is happening, commenting when there is something to contribute. And at least once a week, Aleasa allocates time to professional reading.

“The content within the course directly relates to my professional life so I use this time to re-read prescribed texts, research or articles that will help to develop my understanding of the unit as well as develop me professionally. I think it is important to model lifelong learning to my staff and students and this is one way in which I can do that.”

After school ends, Aleasa attends any meetings and arrives back home for the day, picking up her son from daycare on the way. Immediately after this, she gets into the routine of playing, cooking, eating, then bed and bath time with her son.

From 7.30pm onwards, this time is spent with her husband chatting, watching TV and relaxing. Depending on the complexity of work at that point in the week or study period, she also utilises some of this time to work on assignments. Before bed, Aleasa does a final check of the discussion board and makes a rough plan of things to achieve the following day. She recommends double-checking references, formatting, editing and proofreading during this time.

“Generally speaking, I will try to fit in 2.5hrs – 3hrs a day so when the weekend comes around I can spend that time with my family. It also creates a buffer, so if something unexpected happens or life gets busy, I have the weekend to catch up.”

Aleasa believes that focusing on one thing at a time, one unit, one week then one single day – and making the most of that time – is key to making room for study in a busy life. It also helps that the SCU’s Online Masters course is designed to complement what she is doing professionally.

“As long as I maintain this synergy, I have found it [online study] is less of an imposition on my professional life and more collaboration between study and profession.“

Aleasa Brink is a current Southern Cross University online Master of Education student. To learn more about studying your Masters online and how you can fit it into your busy schedule, speak to our Enrolment team on 1300 589 882.