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Information from the Department Chair

Welcome to the Early Childhood programs with Rasmussen University!

Mary Muhs, Department Chair - Early Childhood Education


Twitter: @marymuhs

Please reach out with questions at anytime

As a new student in the Early Childhood Education program, you may be new to higher education, going back to school after a break or you may already have a degree but are looking for specialized coursework in early childhood education. No matter where you are starting from, this idea of going back to school may be a bit scary or overwhelming. Most of the students in our degree programs are working full-time, (in the early childhood education field or not) and have outside work commitments with family, recreation, additional employment or volunteer work.  Basically, students are busy!

If you are new to the field of early childhood education…

Welcome to early childhood education or ECE!  You may be here because you love children, have children of your own, or even have always dreamt of being a teacher from childhood. You may even have fallen into this field on accident, and now cannot see yourself doing anything else!  You are in the right place!!!

Throughout your courses, you will encounter a lot of information and meet a lot of peers that have much more experience.  Do not let that get you down! Look at this as an opportunity to gather new ideas, strategies, information, and examples to draw from as you grow in your new role in ECE. Listen to others in Discussion Forums and ask questions when you have them. Those in your courses who have been around a while will be happy to share their experiences with you! Your instructors come from a variety of background in ECE and would love to help coach you as you get started in this amazing career in ECE.

If you have been in this field of early childhood education for some time already…

Welcome to the next step in your career in ECE!  Whether you have been working with children for a few months or many years, your experiences are valued and welcomed in your coursework! Actually, your experiences will enrich your learning and that of the peers in your course.

Going back to school at this time, may seem as a waste of your time, as you have been already doing the work you will be learning about. However, in your coursework, you will learn more about the “why” of what you every day.  You will also gain new information, new strategies and cultivate a deeper background in your every work with children. We also encourage you to share your experiences and reach out to others in your courses new to the field of ECE. They can learn much from your experience!  You will become an even better educator and a life-long learner!

If you are new to college coursework or it has been a while since you have been in school…

Welcome back to school!  You might be going back to school to seek that new position, keep that favorite position or improve your educational level for program accreditation or state quality improvement initiatives.  You might be going back to school because you want to or because your employer wants you to go back to school.  You may be very nervous or feel overwhelmed already.  It is all understandable as you are embarking on a new journey and any new journey will give you butterflies. You are in the right place, however, to succeed! 

Know that your instructors and advisors are here to help you work through your challenges!  The College has many tools to help you along the way and those tools are available to you from wherever you are (literally and figuratively).  In online courses, you have the ability to learn from your sofa and maximize your time and energy.  It will take work, but if you take only one day at a time, use resources available, ask questions and always seek excellence (not perfection) in your coursework, you will reach your goal! Be sure to review this New Student section and other sections of the Education Guide. Ask your instructor for help, seek a tutor or peer mentor before you need help and also call the Personal Support Center when your computer will not cooperate. 

You can do this!  You are not alone!  Think like a child and open your mind to the possibilities and curiosity that college courses can offer to you!




Q: What can I do to set myself up for success?

A: Lots of things can give you a head start! Here's a list:

  • Talk with your instructor. Your instructor is your first go-to when you have a question, need help with an assignment or need help understanding the content of the course.
    • Your instructor can be reached via Course Messages, General Course Questions forum, Rasmussen email, phone and often text. You can find your instructor contact information in the course Syllabus and on the course home page.  Be politely persistent.  Instructors will return your email or call within 48 hours per College policy.  However, mistakes happen, so do not hesitate to reach out again and via another means.  Be sure to also give enough time to have your question answered before your assignment is due!
    • Attend Live Classroom sessions or watch the recordings the week they are available.  Your instructor will give very helpful information on assignments AND the course content.  This is a great time to ask questions and get to know your instructor better as well!  No matter what- your instructor wants to help you be successful!
  • Meet with a Peer Mentor. They've been trained to help you navigate the student experience.  They'll give you the inside info you need about getting organized, finding the best resources, and saving time and effort with assignments. They answer the question "What do I need to know and do to be a successful student?"  Here's more information   
  • Use the Student Success Guide regularly. You'll find everything new students need to get and stay on track.  
  • Reach out for help as soon as you need it. Successful students get assistance when needed. This is a normal, healthy part of the learning process. Not sure who to contact? Try your Advisor, a Peer Mentor, a Tutor, or your instructor.  They are all here to support you!

Q: I'm not working with children--I'm not in the field. Can I still be successful in this program? 

A: Yes! Some of you may be working in the field while others may have no formal experience working with young children. Both situations are solid starting points for new students. Although it may be easier to see the applicability of the theories you are learning about while you are working directly with children during the day, it is also possible to gain a good understanding of the course concepts without it. Some tips to help: 

  • Read through all of the discussion posts during the week to 'paint a picture' of what it's like to work in the field. Ask questions. It's a great way to gain insight and to picture yourself in those situations.
  • Think about what you're learning on a daily basis. You may have friends, relatives, and neighbors with young children. When you are with them, be aware of things like their areas of development (e.g. she's at the age where she's starting to talk or experience separation anxiety, etc.)  You can even do this while watching movies or television. There's opportunities all around you! 
  • Volunteer to interact with young children and apply some of the concepts you're learning about. For example, check with a local library or early childhood facility and volunteer to read books. Look for the developmental milestones you've been learning about. 

Want the inside scoop for academic success?  Watch the video below!

Time management is an important life skill and is essential for you to be successful in your courses and program.  Here are some tips to get started and to help your success!

  • Time Management/Study Schedules:  This is where you map out and assign/budget your time during each week for academics, work, family, and personal time.  Creating this calendar will provide you with the pathway to success and allow you to balance college with other aspects of your life.  

Here is a sample of what the first three weeks of your course may look like.

Here is a sample Study Schedule you can customize to meet your needs.

  • Student Success Guide: Within the Student Success Guide, there is a section entitled Managing Your Time--Getting It All Done with tips and downloads to help you organize your time, including time management calendars to help budget your time.  Here is a quick link: (scroll down to the bottom box and click on Handouts).                                                 
  • Tutors: You can make an appointment with a tutor that is trained in time management skills, and they can work with you to help you create a time management calendar.  It's a great idea to schedule even before the term starts to ensure you have a plan that starts you on the right track.  

Use this link to learn how to make an appointment with a tutor (you need to be able to log into the student portal):   Appointments for time management help can be found under Success Skills.  Remember, you can make an appointment with a tutor for coursework assistance as well. See the Tutor Appointments tab for more information.

  • Peer Mentors: Peer Mentors are here just to help you learn how to balance college life and personal life! They can help you to be a more successful you! Peer mentors have been in your shoes and can offer strategies and ideas that work to help you managing time, navigating online courses and even on reading and taking notes! Go to the Tutoring and Peer Mentoring Tab in this Education guide to arrange to meet with a Peer Mentor today!

Peer Mentor Support for You

Q: What can a Peer Mentor do for Me?    

A Peer Mentor can help you navigate the new student landscape. In other words, they can show you what you need to know to be a successful student.  They've been where you are--they'll share tips and strategies that will save you time and effort.

Q: Is the peer mentor a teacher?

No. A peer mentor is a successful student. S/he has been through what you are going through now, that's why they're so helpful for you. They've also gone through additional training to help you maximize your success. 

Q: Is there an additional cost for working with a peer mentor?

No. Rasmussen University offers this to you without charge. Your success is important to us.

Q: How easy is it to make an appointment with a peer mentor?

It's super easy!  Watch the video below for complete instructions.  

Watch the video below for advice and tips from students just like you!

The Early Childhood Education programs are all fully online, meaning that all of a student's coursework is completed via online courses. 

The Certificate and Diploma and Associate Degree courses are all 5.5 weeks in length in an 11 week quarter.

So how does it work?  Let’s say a student is enrolled in 2 courses for the first quarter.  You will notice that each quarter is divided into term 1 (T1) and term 2 (T2), where T1 is the first 5.5 weeks of the quarter, and T2 is the last 5.5 weeks of the quarter.  In this example, in the first 5.5 weeks of the quarter (T1), the student will take 1 course, and then in the last 5.5 weeks of the quarter, called T2, the student will take the second course. 

Similarly, the Bachelor Degree courses are all 6 weeks in length in a 12 week quarter.

At Rasmussen University, our School of Education offers Early Childhood Education programs designed to help you meet your career goals:

Our early childhood education programs prepare you to make a positive and profound difference in the lives of young children and their families. Whether you choose to pursue our Bachelor’s degree, Associate’s degree, Diploma or Certificate, with industry-experienced instructors and specialized curriculum, you can feel confident you will receive the level of skill development you need to help you achieve your early childhood education career goals—whether you want to advance your current career or expand the education and care you provide to your young students and their families.

Our curriculum is developed based on the national best standards established by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)*. Throughout your curriculum, you gain the knowledge and skills you need for success as an educator who can positively influence children’s lives by promoting the healthy development of their physical, social, emotional, intellectual and language development.

Your course instructors are your life line when you need help with course content and assignments!

Be sure to reach out to your instructor often and in multiple ways: course messages, Rasmussen email, phone, General Course Questions and even text!

Read your Instructor’s Course Announcements and emails for helpful clarifications and additional course content!

Find your instructor contact information in the Syllabus and on the Course home page.

Instructors should respond to your outreach within 48 hours.  Be politely persistent and help your instructor help you!

Here are some general tips from your instructors to help you be successful!