Multitasking as a Non-Traditional Student

When I returned to college in 2013 to obtain my Paralegal Certificate at Manor College, I was a full-time mom and student, part-time fitness instructor, and intern as a Paralegal. In addition, I dog sat and worked part-time in a floral shop.

Where did I find the time? Multitasking and time management. A calendar on my phone was a must (including a paper backup – one time I deleted my phone calendar and needless to say, it was crazy until I could recover it). Ever since then, I use a backup program for my phone called Samsung Kies.


At school, I wanted to be involved. I joined clubs and spent as much time on campus as possible. I was the post-baccalaureate representative in the Legal Club both years, got accepted to be in the Pep Club (although my kids’ activities interfered with me actually doing it!) and managed my studying and grades to achieve membership in the Alpha Beta Gamma Honor Society.ABG.logo3

I tried to spend time on campus after my courses; I used the time to study in the library, write a paper or do homework (sometimes all three). It was hard to get quiet time at home, so I spent a lot of my study time on campus.

I needed to plan out almost every day in advance so that I would know when I could fit in study time, and plan how long it would take to research, write a paper and submit it. My biggest fault was occasionally being late for class because I came straight from work. Thankfully my professors were understanding when I explained my situation to them.

Another key element to my success was online courses: the flexibility was really important as I could do them at my pace and didn’t have to travel to school to do the work.

If you’re going to school in later years, or even if you simply have a lot going on in your life:

  • Have a good calendar system
  • Get involved on campus
  • Learn how to multitask
  • Find a quiet place to do your work
  • Plan when you can be in your quiet place to complete assignments
  • Take advantage of online classes

Even though I have graduated, I still use a daily calendar because it’s a definite must when you have a full-time job, fitness classes to teach, and two girls as a single mom!

– Mary Jo Fronckel Bell


20161231_134738I grew up in a small town in Northeast Pennsylvania and attended Mid Valley Secondary Center. I attended Skidmore College right out of high school and transferred to Temple University several years later to complete my bachelor’s degree. I majored in Psychology with a minor in Cognitive Neuroscience. I worked as a Legal Assistant and pursued my passion for fitness as an instructor and personal trainer.

After getting married and having two children, I obtained a Certificate in Paralegal Studies at Manor College and currently work as a Paralegal. I still teach fitness in Philadelphia, enjoy sharing my love for education, and staying in shape with my two daughters!