The Night Owl Life, Part III

Part 3. In our previous The Night Owl Life posts, we heard from Daniel Hankins, WGU Texas graduate and now graduate student, as he shared his motivation for returning to college, why he chose WGU Texas and how he enrolled.

Daniel Hankins With a Back to School Scholarship in hand and a self-imposed challenge to complete his degree on pace with his boss’ completion of his dissertation, Daniel needed a solid plan and the right support from WGU Texas faculty and mentors to make it happen. Here’s Daniel discussing his plan in his own words and what’s coming next:

The Plan

If I was going to graduate within seven months, I had to finish a term a month. That meant four classes a month, or roughly one class a week. I made up a quick Excel spreadsheet with the class listings, and put a month above each term instead of the term number. As I completed classes, I put the date of completion next to each class and shaded that line green. I would turn that Excel document into a picture and use that as my computer background, so I would always know how I was progressing. When I met with my Student Mentor the first time, I told him of my plan, and sent him a copy of the sheet.

Mentors Matter

For my weekly meetings with my mentor, I would try to have my current class practice assessment completed before the call. The WGU Texas mentors are something everyone talks about, and mine — Alan — lived up to the hype. Along with guidance throughout the course and as assessments approached, after each class I passed, Alan also sent a congratulations email with some small, silly picture. He offered insight into other classes based on his other students’ experiences as well as my background and studies to date.

It’s Important to Take a Break

While I set an ambitious goal and stuck to my work plan and timeline, I didn't turn into a studying machine who never took a break. When the temperature warmed up in the spring, I got the urge to go kayak fishing. For days, I didn’t follow through on my day dreams of fishing. Finally, despite feeling guilty about not studying, I eventually gave in and went fishing, on a day that ended up with temperatures in the 40s. I was wet, shivering, with no fish, and wondering why I had been so obsessed. But it alleviated the day-dreaming, provided a great mental health break, and after I thawed out and sat back down to my studies, I quickly knocked out my final three classes.

Back for More

I had to get that long coveted undergraduate degree done before I could pursue the MBA, a degree I had wanted since high school. With my inquiry and entrance interview complete and my financial aid forms submitted, I’m ready to return to The Night Owl life immediately. I’d encourage new and prospective students to consider the scholarship options and available employer tuition discounts or reimbursements and pursue them. Get to know your mentor and follow their advice. Make a plan and stick to it. Most importantly, embrace The Night Owl Life. There are WGU Texas students and alumni spread across Texas, and the online connections and networks can provide great insight, advice and motivation.

What’s your story about living, studying and working The Night Owl Life? We’d love to hear your own experiences of overcoming obstacles and achieving success. Share it with us on social media, #NightOwlLife, or send a note to with your personal stories.

Editor’s note: Daniel still has the final version of the Excel sheet he used to track progress.

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