Whether you’re planning a change of career, or you’d like to enroll in advanced studies for your current course, you’re most likely thinking about how you’ll balance your studies with other aspects of your life such as work and your family or social life. Remember, with organization and planning, you can achieve what might seem to be impossible.
Here are some steps on how to study while working.
1. Consider an Online Program
Perhaps one of the easiest ways you can balance college with a busy work life is by attending classes using online programs. Most colleges offer a version of distance learning courses through the Internet. These courses are usually structured to give students the option of participating in live classroom sessions, as well as email, chat, or video-based lessons. The disadvantage to using online programs is that you may not get a chance to interact with other students, and there may not be a chance to take exams or pass tests.
There are many benefits of taking online courses especially for those struggling to juggle work and studies. Here are some of them:
- Cost: The first benefit of course is the cost. For some people, the only way to not pay a fortune for tertiary education is by taking online classes at the local community college. Online classes are usually less expensive than their traditional college counterparts. You don’t have to pay the high costs of a traditional college degree program, because you’re not taking on a full-time instructor on campus.
- Flexible: Online courses are also perfect for those who simply don’t have time to fit in traditional classroom courses. You may have pressing responsibilities at work or at home. With online courses, you can take your courses whenever it fits your schedule.
If you have a busy schedule or children to care for during the day, traditional classes can become a burden, as they must be attended every day. Since you can learn from your computer any time of the day, you don’t have to worry about getting a babysitter or even having transportation to get to and from the class. This allows you to get the most out of your learning experience.
- Access to instructors: Another benefit of taking courses online is that instructors are usually more accessible than their offline counterparts. Offline instructors also may not have the time necessary to attend to all your learning needs, especially if there are too many students enrolled in a class or course. For this reason, many people choose to take online degree courses because the instructors are easily accessible.
- Work at your own pace. Online courses allow students to go through the lessons at their own pace. Students that take online classes are often those that would not normally be able to attend traditional courses because of their busy lifestyles, financial obligations, or other personal reasons. You can take courses when it’s convenient for you, allowing you to fit the lessons into your daily schedule easily. This can also help the instructors feel more comfortable with teaching, as you may feel more inclined to pay attention, thus making the lessons easier to understand.
- Fewer requirements: If there’s one benefit of taking classes online that outweighs all of the others, it’s that there are far fewer courses to take each semester. You can literally log on, look up what you need to study, complete your assignments, and be on your way to earning your degree in a matter of weeks. You don’t need to make time to drive to a class in the morning, hoping that someone will let you in on their schedule just so you can go in on a certain day. You simply log in and you’re all set to start attending your classes.
Online courses are a great way to manage your career and studies at the same time. With these courses, you can continue your education at your own pace. Many students have a hard time finishing their classes because they don’t have the money available to do so. By taking online courses, you can graduate and get a degree without breaking the bank.
2. Establish a Support Network
When you’re preparing for college, you need talk to your family, friends, and employer. Make sure that you have their support in this new step in your professional life. If your employer is considerate, they may even help you work on a flexible schedule. Your family, partner, or friends can also lend their hand in other things such as housework, caring for kids, or other things while you’re studying.
3. Manage Your Time Wisely
How you handle your time while in college will be a critical factor in your success. Many people don’t set aside time for studying, resulting in them cramming for exams. This habit of putting in large amounts of work at one time can lead to the devastating decision to abandon your goal of a successful college career.
If you’re usually watching TV during your free time, consider using some of that time into getting coursework done. Keep in mind that you’re working towards your dream of having a better future and opening up more opportunities. When you’ve reached your goal, you can always spend more time for other activities.
To effectively manage your time while studying and working, develop discipline. The best way to accomplish this is to set a strict timetable and stick to it. Set clear, concise, and achievable goals and work to achieve them one step at a time. Make sure that you have enough time to complete all your tasks and to relax. You must also clear out your desk and get rid of distractions before you go to bed.
4. Reduce Distractions at Home
Even if you’re taking online classes and don’t have to go away from your family to sit in a physical classroom, you’re still in college. Thus, you need to have a space at home where you can concentrate. Make sure that your family understands that your space is important. Ensure that your space doesn’t have distractions to make you focus well and learn.
Minimizing distractions isn’t just about having a space to study. It also means limiting all desktop and mobile distractions. It’ll help a lot if you close all instant messaging and social media apps. Avoid checking your email or texts until you’re done studying.
5. Have Time Off
When it comes to completing course requirements, there may come a time when you can’t do everything at once. The moment you get your course syllabus, start assessing how much time you need to prepare for assignments or exams. When needed, set some time off for you to concentrate on studying.
6. Check Your Online Classroom Regularly
If you’re enrolled in an online class, you may feel that going this route is more relaxed than taking physical classes. As a result, you may not check your online classroom often. When you do this, it’s possible that you’ll miss out on plenty of material and feel overwhelmed when you finally get around to checking the platform. Remember, regularly checking your classes will keep you updated with the things that need to be finished.
7. Divide Big Tasks into Small Ones
The most common cause of anxiety for students is the feeling that they have so much to do and that they’ll never get anything done. These thoughts will make it difficult for you to even start working, or finish anything.
A good way to reduce feeling overwhelmed is to write all the tasks you need done. The right way to do this is to write not just the general task but also the smaller tasks that come with it. For instance, if a requirement is to write a paper, you can write smaller tasks such as research for the introduction, write the introduction, and other things.
When you divide huge tasks into smaller ones, you can determine doable steps you can do towards accomplishing the bigger goal. When you do it this way, you’ll feel that you’re making progress, and may take time to pause and take a break instead of worrying about the deadline and end up doing nothing.
Determine which task is due soonest and work on that first. Avoid doing a task that’s due in two weeks and miss something that’s due tomorrow. Knowing how to prioritize will help you get things done on time. You can use planners, to-do-list apps, or a simple notepad to write down your tasks.
8. Establish Boundaries by Saying ‘No’
One of the most challenging skills to develop as an adult is to set boundaries and avoid trying to please others by trying to live up to other people’s expectations. Many college students feel like they have to say ‘yes’ to anyone because they either feeling grateful or honored to be asked. Usually, it will feel like you’re saying ‘yes’ to something you want, but this may not always be the case.
When this happens, it can be difficult to determine what to do. Therefore, you should take time to think about it and consider the benefits and disadvantages of any additional requests or projects. Even if you feel like it’s impossible for you to say ‘no’ to requests, pause and check your feelings. Determine your reasons for heeding to a request and ask yourself, “Why should I do this?”
Knowing your reasons can help determine your purpose for giving in to requests, which also allows you to establish boundaries and expectations. It’s always okay to do things that you need to do, but it’s also alright to say ‘no’. The ability to say ‘no’ is among the most powerful things you can do for self-care. Don’t worry, as there will always be more chances to say ‘yes’ next time.
9. Communicate and Ask for Help
In balancing your college life with work, one helpful thing is to communicate with the people around you to inform them what’s happening. Doing this doesn’t mean that you must tell them everything, but it’s good to let them know of your commitments so that they can also provide you extra time if needed.
Asking for help isn’t a weakness and can even be considered a strength. This help may come from your professor, friends, boss, or mental health counselors. Letting others know of your needs is a mentally healthy option.
Many times, when people are doing both school and work full time, managers will allow them to have reduced hours or have some time off from work during examination periods and then have extra hours when their schedule permits. Professors may also be more accommodating to their students who have other commitments.
Inform your professors about your commitments at the start of the semester and be honest about it. Although you may think otherwise, your professors would like you to succeed and may extend help if needed.
10. Get Your Education Now
If you have a busy life already, expect that you’re going to be busier once classes start. But if this is your goal, you’ll want to work towards your degree. Don’t allow other things to get in the way of you finishing your studies. If you don’t prioritize your studies, then you’ll end up waiting until who knows when. But if you manage your time carefully, you’ll successfully manage your career, college and any personal issues that may come. By planning, you’ll have time to sort out any requirements if any emergencies occur.
Whether you want to work while you complete your degree or if you just want to get a head start on your career, online degree programs are the way to go. The ability to work while you get an education is a very valuable skill. Many jobs require a certain amount of schooling before you can apply, so why not get your degree while you’re at it? That’s one of the main reasons you will find so many people going back to school – they know they can balance college with a job.