Most of us area already pining for the days of the long holiday break to sleep late, gorge ourselves on sweet treats and cheese ball, spend hours in front of the television watching reruns of King of Queens or perhaps head to the movies.  No doubt, we are in need of rest and relaxation and enjoying time with our families.  It is important to clear your mind of algebraic equations, sociological theory, or the Georgia constitution, and fill your head with dancing sugar plums for a while!

I want to suggest that during the many days away from school and the computer that you keep yourself motivated so that you can return in January with tenacity and a fresh perspective. Here are a few tips to help you recharge over the break.

Keep reading.   Finding things you love to read over the break will keep your mind stimulated and your vocabulary sharp. (Please don’t rely on Facebook for ALL of your intellectual perusing J ).  

Maintain “to-do” lists.  Staying on some kind of schedule and accomplishing tasks is important for a healthy outlook and keeps you from staying up all night and sleeping all day.   Jot down a few things to accomplish daily. Examples might include: cleaning out a closet, writing a letter, volunteering at a local agency for a couple of hours, washing your van, etc….

Stay active. There is something to be said for getting 30 minutes of exercise a day.  This can be a simple walk around your neighborhood, heading to the mall (without a pit stop at the food court), or light housework.  Exercise keeps your heart healthy and your mind rejuvenated.  It sure doesn’t hurt to help prevent those notorious holiday pounds either! 

Eat (at least) one healthy item a day: If you love to eat, like I do, it is too tough to steer clear of the holiday sugar cookies, Aunt Betty’s meatballs, or the homemade bacon-wrapped scallops.  So try to balance out the gorging by keeping some healthy items on hand.  Have a bag of apples or fresh cut veggies in the fridge.  Sip on water all day- every day.  It will help keep you feeling fuller and also does wonders for your skin!

Keep school in mind.  Classes will resume before you know it. Be sure you get your supplies (books/ notebooks) before classes start. If you are an “online” student, review your email periodically.  Be aware of the first day “log in” procedures for eCore/eMajor and get yourself acclimated in class the first available date.
So, go ahead!  Enjoy the extended winter break!  May it be a time of restoration and peace.  If you follow a few of these outlined items it might just allow for you to have an easier transition into the spring semester.

Contributed by: 
Karen Lingrell
Assistant Director of Collaborative Programs,
USG eCore and eMajor
Professor Billy Morris

Billy Morris is an Associate Professor of Geology at Georgia Highlands College, and has been an instructor with eCore since the very early days of 2001/2002. We talked to Professor Morris about his appreciation for online teaching, how he came to be a geologist, and his life outside of the virtual classroom. (He has a pretty INSANE cookie-baking record!) He's also got some really great advice for online students.

Where did you complete your degree(s)?
Georgia Southern University and Emory University.

What drew you to the field of Geology?
My parents are responsible. They took me camping and hiking for as long as I can remember, and they liked to collect things, rocks, fossils, plants, stray animals. It was fun and I haven’t stopped since. I would not do well in a city or an office, would much rather be outside. Geology is a way to do that.

Why did you choose to become a college instructor?
My mom taught college for 40 years and my dad managed the college bookstore, so I grew up around college students. I find the combination of earth science and the energy of higher education to be irresistible and gratifying.

What do you like most about teaching online?
Of course the flexibility of schedule is great, but the immense amount of visual, graphic, and spatial information is wonderful for teaching/learning Geology online. Often the class is made up of students who have or currently live outside the southeast US, and it’s great fun to hear of their travels and experiences. These students bring a fresh perspective to the course that can be hard to find in a classroom.
Just a little fishing in my spare time...

What was your most challenging subject in school, and how did you get through it?
Calculus 2. Persistence - I took it more than once.

What do you like to do in your free time?
I have a few acres, a greenhouse, fruit, nut, berry orchards and a field garden. I like to eat good food, so I spend a lot of time tending plants and the land. I like to fish, hunt, camp, hike, climb, but when it comes to the cold wet time of year I move into the music room and play guitar, mandolin, and keyboards.  I just bought a 1960 Hammond tonewheel organ at Goodwill that’s in amazing condition, so I’m having a concert every night!

What’s your favorite movie of all time?
Easy – Babe

If you had to choose a different profession, what would it be?
Captain of charter fishing boat.

If you won the lottery, what would you do with your winnings?
Pay off the house. Buy a big sailboat. Leave the rest for the kids.

What is something interesting about you that your students would be surprised to know?
Where to start?

Hitchhiking to
Denali National Park
in Alaska
I’ve hitchhiked through Alaska with one of my kids for their ‘Senior Trip’. It was awesome!

I have officiated two different wedding ceremonies where I had the honor of joining good friends in marital bliss.  In spite of me and to their credit, they’re still together!

I have an intense relationship with my youngest daughter on a foosball table. We’re both good, and we take turns whipping each other. She went to grad school up in Ohio where she learned some new tricks, but I've had to show her that old age and treachery can beat new tricks any day.

The Annual Fifty Dozen Cookie Day
Here’s another - I love to bake cookies, but only once a year right before Christmas on Fifty Dozen Cookie Day. This is the holiday set aside for baking as many cookies as is physically possible in a normal home kitchen. My son and I started this family tradition when he was 15 and bored and I said “I wonder if we could bake 50 dozen cookies today?” He bit, and we burned out a couple of hand-mixers, came way short and had a great time. Since then we’ve pegged out and quit keeping count. Maximum was a few years ago at 176 dozen and required a couple of Kitchen Aids and an oven manager. We don’t have anything else to prove, but we do have a lot of friends coming over to join this year’s fun!

What advice do you have for students taking online classes for the first time?

Get into the course fast and deep. Check in with your instructor and let your intentions be known. Get all the required supplies immediately. Set a schedule for completing the coursework and if it breaks down, let your instructor know right away. You’ll find that staying on track and in touch is the key to success.
She defines success very simply as "Putting forth your very best effort in everything you do." She exudes positivity. She is an inspirational, confident woman and an all-around great role model to her daughter and nephews. Meet eMajor student,  Kimberly Hobbs...

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? When I was a child there were quite a few careers that I thought I wanted to do when I grew up. My career choices were an astronaut, a veterinarian, and even a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader! Although none of these ideas came to fruition, I am pleased with the career that I am in now because it allows me to help people as a Grant Writer & Administrator.

What is your college major? Organizational Leadership

Why did you choose eMajor? I chose eMajor because of the convenience of online courses. The fact that I could finish my degree without having to attend classes on campus, but could instead participate in classes according to my schedule was the reason I decided to enroll. I graduated high school in 1987 and have attended college off and on since then trying to earn a four-year degree. However, attending classes on campus while working and raising a family was difficult and my pursuit of an education always fell by the wayside. However, because eMajor affords me the ability to attend school around my everyday schedule, I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. I will complete my degree this time. 

What are your career plans beyond eMajor? I have been very blessed in my career and I have a very rewarding job as a grant writer/administrator. My plans beyond eMajor are to continue to help people through grant writing. 

What is something cool you've learned this semester in your eMajor class? In my Introduction to Public Administration (POLS 3600) class, we had a case study about the debate over chocolate milk in Florida lunchrooms. There was a debate between the Department of Education and the Department of Agriculture about whether or not chocolate milk should be served to school children. It was interesting to me that politics plays a role in so many things, even school lunches.

Where is your favorite place to visit in the USA? Washington DC. It is a beautiful city full of history and politics, two of my favorite things.

Who in history would you like to spend an hour with and what would you talk about? Dr. Martin Luther King. He was an amazingly brave man who had a vision of equality and worked tirelessly to spread his message. I would want to talk to him about his experiences and about how he changed America.

What song makes you sing when driving in your car? Why? Walking on Sunshine by Katrina and the Waves.  It is definitely old school, but every time it comes on the radio, I want to roll the windows down and sing because it is a happy song.

The most used appliance in your house is...........? The stove/oven. I enjoy cooking and consider myself somewhat of a foodie.

Who is the biggest inspiration for your education? My daughter. She is just completing her freshman year at VSU. Her desire to pursue her education inspired me to enroll in eMajor and to finish my degree.

Is there anything else interesting you would like to share about yourself? I am thankful that eMajor is available to non-traditional students such as me. Because of its availability, I will finally be able to complete a degree that I have been pursuing for 25+ years. 
For parents of high school students, the thought of your child going to college can bring on a laundry list of questions – How do I know they’re ready for college-level work? When should we start applying to schools? How am I going to afford tuition?

If you’re feeling anxious about your child jumping head-first into college life, planning ahead with a dual enrollment program may be a good way to smooth the transition for everyone – plus there are some real benefits that you and your child can both enjoy!

What is Dual Enrollment? 
Dual enrollment is a program in which a high school student enrolls in a college course and receives credit both at the collegiate level and at the high school level for successful completion. Courses are offered in a variety of formats - online, face to face on the college campus, and sometimes instruction is even given onsite at high schools.

Most public and private postsecondary institutions have special admission requirements and registration guidelines for dual enrollment, so be sure to check those out at the school in which you are considering enrollment.
So – now that you know WHAT dual enrollment is, you may be wondering WHY it’s such a good idea. Well, here are 5 reasons we think it’s such a smart move.

1.      A Smooth College Transition
For some students, the rigor of college-level course work can be a shock at first. By easing into college courses during high school, students are able to experience a real college class and develop the skills required to be successful before leaving the comforts of home and high school.
2.      Increased Access to Advanced Classes
Some high schools are not able to offer as many advanced placement (AP) courses as they would like. By dual enrolling in an online college course, your child can be challenged with an advanced curriculum, which will reflect positively on transcripts when applying for full enrollment to colleges. Plus, with dual enrollment, you do not have to score highly on one test to receive college credit as is required in AP courses. If you pass the class, you get the credit.
3.      Graduate from College Faster
Many people start thinking about dual enrollment in their child’s senior year – but you can enroll as early as sophomore year. If a student begins a dual enrollment program early enough – he or she could graduate from high school with enough credits to be classified as a college sophomore! That can shorten the time to complete a bachelor’s degree by up to two years. Now THAT is what we call getting ahead!
4.      Encourage Collegiate Success
Statistics show that dual enrolled students’ GPAs after two years of college were significantly higher than those students who did not participate in dual enrollment classes.
5.      Save on College Tuition
With college tuition on the rise annually, this is one of the most common concerns of parents. Here in Georgia, high school students have access to the Move on When Ready (MOWR) program. MOWR provides funds to be awarded for postsecondary coursework qualifying for dual credit. Students must be enrolled in ninth, tenth, eleventh, or twelfth grades. Students may receive MOWR funding for three semesters or four quarters per award year while enrolled in an eligible high school or home school study program. MOWR covers all of tuition and required course books are provided through the college or university at no cost to the student. For more information on MOWR, visit
Now that you know why dual enrollment programs are so great, it’s time to get started on the HOW. With busy high school schedules, online classes are a great option. Through the University System of Georgia’s eCore program, the state’s college core curriculum is now offered completely online through more than 20 colleges and universities.

To learn more about online dual enrollment through eCore, visit We’d love to talk to you and answer any questions you have! Request information here, or call us anytime at 1.866.93ECORE.