So you are thinking of taking college courses online, earning that degree that you have been thinking about for many years now.  That is great! At the time of this post, it is estimated that somewhere around 7 million students are taking some type of course via distance learning. The inspiration for this article came to me after watching more than a few students fail college in both the online format and hybrid settings. Be warned now – the questions I want you to think about are not ones that most colleges or universities will likely ask. As an aside, I am going to make the assumption you have already thought about the college’s accreditation status.
Think of what follows as mental guideposts, designed to help you self-reflect and arrive at honest answers about how successful you may be in a given online degree program. This particular question is perhaps the most difficult one that you as a potential online learner should ask yourself before you sign any documentation to take a college online course or enroll in a college degree program via distance learning. Do I have the time to take college courses online?  I cannot emphasize this question enough. Knowing how much time that you will need to put aside for studying will largely depend upon the course you are enrolled in, the specific degree program you are thinking about and the general rigor of the coursework. Schools like to use averages when they get the proverbial “How much time will it take me” question from prospective students. Tip: If you really want to know how much time a given course at a school takes to complete, ask the admissions counselor or the professor of that class for the syllabus. This approach is truly the only way you are going to know how much time you need to set aside each week to successfully complete a class or degree program online. Essentially, a stable home life in the context of online learning means being in an environment that is emotionally nurturing and free of as many distractions as possible. Sometimes waiting for a life storm to pass can be very helpful with launching a new direction.
You may be thinking, “Why on earth would this be mentioned?” The answer is very simple – there are sometimes “hidden” costs connected to online learning that you may have not have thought about or budgeted for. Once you get through your “Orientation Course” you then sign up for one of the required classes (aka core courses) that are required for your degree.
I need to say here not every college that offers online courses charges these extra fees and not all of them try to hide the costs.
As mentioned earlier, colleges offering online courses have fairly strict rules about when assignments must be turned in. While the admissions rep at the school may tell you “our professors try to work with students”, you need to know they may not be giving you the entire story. Again, find out the facts and then weigh this information with your current responsibility obligations to your household or employer (or both).
For example, a realistic goal may be to take 1 college course per tem for the first year and then gradually work your way up to 2 courses at a time. A good way to check and see if your goals are realistic is to list out what is currently on your plate in the here and now. The Zentangle Method is an easy-to-learn, relaxing, and fun way to create beautiful images by drawing structured patterns. Insight Awareness, a Wellness and Education Center, is co-owned by John Sparks and Valerie Reilly.  Located on the south side of Chicago, Insight Awareness provides alternative wellness and education programs for all who enter to find their inner and outer well-being.
MZMC's Guiding Teacher, Tim Burkett, began practicing in spring 1964 with Shunryu Suzuki Roshi while attending Stanford University. Priests at Minnesota Zen Meditation Center make a lifelong commitment to teaching and exemplifying the Dharma. Priest training at MZMC follows the model Guidelines for Training Soto Zen Priests in the West, which was developed by Tim Burkett and others under the auspices of the Soto Zen Buddhist Association (SZBA).
These individuals have received dharma transmission (certification to teach independently) from Tim Burkett. Ted O'Toole first became interested in Buddhism in 1973, and began his formal practice in 1992 at the Zen Buddhist Temple in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Rosemary started practicing Zen meditation in 1994, was ordained by Tim Burkett in 2003, became Shuso (a senior student) in 2007, and received dharma transmission in September 2010.
Susan started practice with Katagiri-roshi and the MZMC community in 1978 and received the precepts from him in 1980. Guy Gibbon has a special interest in the interplay between Buddhism and Western science, and in the incorporation of Buddhist practices like mindfulness meditation in education, health care, business, and other avenues of contemporary life. These individuals have been ordained by and in training with Tim Burkett for four to seven years.
Ben began Zen practice at MZMC in 2001, was ordained in 2009, and received dharma transmission in 2015. Busshō Lahn first came to Zen Buddhism and MZMC in 1993, was ordained by Tim Burkett in 2009, and received dharma transmission in 2015. He is active in both the recovery and Christian contemplative communities, teaching and leading retreats and overseas pilgrimages through the Episcopal House of Prayer and the Aslan Institute. Wanda is the editor of Nothing Holy About It: The Zen of Being Just Who You Are, by Tim Burkett.
Stacy Lee King began Minnesota Zen Meditation Center teacher training in November 2012 with formal ordination from Tim Burkett. Mark began exploring Zen Buddhist practice while a college student at the University of Minnesota. Our mission is to help people experience a deep and quiet joy – a joy that arises whenever we are fully engaged in the work or play of this moment. Let me be the first to applaud you for taking the initial steps to earn an important life credential.
Examples including moving from a job to a career, earning more money and having a marketable credential.


Instead, I want to help you gain greater insight into what it really takes to earn a degree online. In most all cases, these well intentioned learners failed because they made rosy colored assumptions about taking a college class through the Internet.  I recently spoke about adult learners and distance education in an article appearing in the Chicago Tribune. Hopefully, you will find what follows practical in nature, placing you, the education consumer, in the right mental framework to make smart, informed choices about the investment you are contemplating. Here I am specifically talking about online college admissions documents and online forms for student loans (aka: Free Application for Federal Student Aid [FASA]). Having a realistic understanding of your ability to dedicate time to a college course is critical to your success. Most schools will tell you the average time to put aside is anywhere between 10-15 hours per week. These cookie cutter answers that well intentioned admissions specialists share don’t do you a lick of good if, for example, you are enrolled in a doctoral program with 10 page papers due each week! If you are not able to get your hands on this information, find out what kind of assignments are involved in the class, particularly any information you can discover about essays and quizzes. I recognize that everyone has some amount of turbulence going on at any one point in time however – some bumps are more problematic than others when it comes to online college courses. A few examples that come to mind include relationship problems, mental health challenges, divorce procedures or family drama. Just a practical tip here from someone who has seen too many students blow a wad of money on a degree program that they were unable to focus on because of instability at home. When you fly a major airline from point A to point B, you already know to expect to pay extra money in addition to the ticket price for things like checked bags or food.
FYI: They are supposed to be transparent per various laws and accrediting rules however, I am going to be straight forward with you here – the the fees can be hard to find because they are often hidden in the fine print! It’s up to you as an education consumer to do your homework and read everything all the same. Most online faculty members have high teaching loads and are not able to make exceptions for you because you have “special” circumstances like work.
In this course (for example) it would not be uncommon to see a writing assignment due each week in APA format, weekly quizzes and discussion assignments. An unrealistic goal however would be trying to take 3 courses at one time while also working full time and heading up a household. I absolutely encourage you to pursue your higher education dreams but do it in a way that sets yourself up for success rather than failure. If you are new to sitting, please arrive promptly at seven o’clock for a brief orientation. Relax and shop while visi9ng with our Teachers & Prac99oners who will be offering you informa9on about their passion in the healing arts. At Suzuki's urging, Tim began a weekly sitting group on the San Francisco peninsula later that year, which Suzuki regularly attended. The responsibilities of priests are many and varied, and include much service to the community. Priests-in-training are expected to become knowledgeable as to the history and teachings of Buddhism through study, classes, and, most importantly, working directly with their teacher.
The following year he moved to Minnesota and became a member of MZMC, where he received the precepts from Shohaku Okamura. After studying Nyoho-e (the Way of Sewing) with Tomoe Katagiri for 16 years, Rosemary became one of three sewing teachers endorsed by Tomoe-san upon her retirement in the summer of 2013. Guy, who has been a somewhat irregular member of MZMC since 1976, received the precepts from Dainin Katakiri Roshi in the late 1980s, and was ordained by Tim Burkett in September 2006.
They have demonstrated a readiness to counsel others in developing and maintaining a meditation practice. Busshō is a certified spiritual director, connecting with and mentoring those who wish to deepen an intentional and contemplative spiritual life.
His special interests include Zen ritual and ceremony, poetry, interfaith dialogue, and the works of the great mystics.
Stacy has led kitchen practice and work practice and assisted with the Dharma Family Sunday program. The decision to earn a college degree is probably one of the most important investments you will make in your lifetime. But here is the thing you need to know – the process of earning college credit online is a LOT of work and is not easy. On the flip-side, an undergraduate course in business ethics may only take you 5 hours of study time per week, depending upon the dynamics. While some of these situations may be temporary in nature (or at least seem that way) you need to really be honest with yourself and assess if these issues are such that they will derail your education investment.
You find out that you have to pay hundreds of extra dollars in fees and costs that you never knew about.
Have you ever gone to the ATM and noticed the machine (bank) wants to charge you an extra $3.00 or $4.00 to use the box? So here is my practical tip – don’t you dare sign anything until you know the total cost of the online college class you want to take and most importantly, if you can afford it! Folks, bear in mind that a lot of colleges are all too quick to get you to sign up for classes and “help” you with tuition assistance and loan paperwork at the beginning of the process. If you have the type of job that requires you to work overtime, irregular work hours or in a way that is unpredictable, think twice before committing to a degree program via distance learning. If you run a busy household or work a job with crazy work hours, don’t expect the instructor you have in your college course to make exceptions for you. The only exception to these rules are special situations, such as a military deployment or medical emergency – and both most likely need to have documentation.
Simply put, it means looking at your schedule in a way that is free of distortions, commonly referred to as magical thinking.


If you have traditionally struggled with time management issues, be sure to read some of these time management tips! We ask a five dollar donation as an expression of our gratefulness to Insight Awareness for providing this beautiful setting.
They may teach classes, lead practice groups, lead meditation retreats, and give dharma talks. Training focuses on developing priestcraft, exemplary personal conduct, self-understanding, and academic study. Among the positions Rosemary has held at Zen Center are Associate Guiding Teacher, Tenzo (head cook), Ino (center coordinator), Attendant, and Chiden (caretaker of altars and rituals), as well as various administrative roles. She became Shuso (head student) in 2009, completed a Residency in Health Care chaplaincy in 2009, and received dharma transmission in 2011. He has taught courses at MZMC in meditation, introductory Buddhism, the Four Immeasurables, and intermediate-level concepts (the How to Practice: The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching course).
He started teaching Introduction to Meditation in 2005, and since then has taught a variety of courses to both newcomers and long-term Zen practitioners. He explores the connection between spirituality and psychology with them as well as encouraging and supporting their continued spiritual practice.
She facilitates introductory meditation sessions at MZMC as well as Hennepin County Juvenile Detention Center. If you are new to Zen Buddhism or the Center, you may want to attend the Introduction to Meditation class before you begin coming to these regularly scheduled meditation sessions.
Local brick and mortar examples include the University of Illinois, DePaul University and Northwestern University.
Our practice effort consists in two twenty-minute sitting periods, with five-minute walking practice in between.
Suzuki's talks to that group were later edited and published as "Zen Mind Beginner's Mind", which has become a classic text and the gateway for many to enter Zen practice. She lives in south Minneapolis with her husband Dave; they are empty-nester parents of a daughter and a son.
Susan has served in a variety of practice leadership roles over the years at MZMC and at Hokyoji,where she currently resides with her husband and two other community residents. He has also been a participant in Ken McLeod's teacher training program at Unfettered Mind in Los Angeles since 2006.
Inspired again and again by the way people give themselves to the practice of transforming their lives at MZMC, he has taken up creating new practice offerings for the community, listening to students, washing dishes, and watching the wind cross the lake as Zen practice.
These programs are in addition to the cadre of universities and colleges that are exclusively online.
After completing his BA at Stanford, Tim attended the maiden practice period at San Francisco Zen Center's Tassajara Zen Mountain Center in 1967 with his wife Linda, whom he met at San Francisco Zen Center. They are expected to hold an office at MZMC, such as ino (practice leader), tenzo (cook), or work leader, and to have a consistent presence within the community.
She was a founding board member of Hokyoji and serves there now as Director of Practice and Education. Ben is a musician by profession: a singer and songwriter, guitar teacher, film composer and multi-instrumentalist.
Her focus as a Zen teacher is helping people cultivate the capacity to express themselves completely by seeing through emotional barriers and opening up to the natural compassion and original freedom innate in each of us. Mark is particularly interested in exploring engaged mindfulness, non-violent communication, and the interplay between the 12-steps and Zen practice.
The evening is structured to provide breaks between sitting periods, but if sitting becomes too uncomfortable you may adjust your position at any time.
She represents Hokyoji as a community chaplain at Prairie Correctional and works as an affiliate chaplain at Gundersen Lutheran Hospital in LaCrosse, WI. His first book, Inside the Grass Hut, Living Shitou's Classic Zen Poem (Wisdom Publications) was published in 2014, and his new translation and commentary on Vasubandhu's Thirty Verses is slated for publication by Wisdom in 2016. He draws great inspiration from people who give their entire hearts to the most simple of activities, be it sitting zazen, eating oryoki, or ringing a meditation bell. Priests maintain a regular and disciplined zazen practice, which includes both daily practice and retreats.
At MZMC she continues to teach classes,lead retreats, meet with and mentor individuals, and co-lead the Dharma Family Sunday program. Tim was president of MZMC from 1978 to 1983, became a dharma heir of Karen Sunna in the Katagiri lineage in 2000, and succeeded Karen as abbot in 2002. Priests tend to be very busy people, and although they often find it challenging to balance family, work, and training activities, they know that this balancing is the very heart of their practice.
Susan is interested in preserving the forms and ceremonies handed down from within the Soto Zen lineage, while also exploring new forms to fit our modern lives.
Since then, he has worked in a variety of capacities including emergency response, environmental education, and grassroots advocacy. They are committed to the Bodhisattva ideal, and feel profound gratitude for the opportunity to serve at MZMC and to be a part of this practice community.
Ted grew up on a farm in North Dakota and often incorporates his early experiences into his dharma talks. In his free time, Mark enjoys creating music, writing creative fiction, and exploring the outdoors.
Paul, and enjoy their extended family, as well as gardening, house projects, biking, cross-country skiing, and writing.



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