When considering going back to school to earn a degree, one of the concerns students most often express isn’t if they are able to handle the coursework. It’s how they will fit their education into an already busy schedule. With work commitments, family, and other demands, it’s easy for students to think that they don’t have the time to get a degree.
However, you can plan and prioritize your way to success, especially if you consider online learning. The flexibility and affordability of online degree programs combine all the value of traditional education with the added benefits that are only possible in an online format. Use these tips and tricks for balancing work and college to meet your educational goals.
1. Stay on schedule.
The first and possibly most important step you should take when you go back to school is to create a schedule that accommodates both work and studying. There are only so many hours in the day, and mapping them out is a great way to keep yourself organized and accountable. Set aside a specific time each day to do coursework or study, making sure that you keep your work hours in mind. Whether you study on your commute or in the evening before bed, figure out a plan that works for you and stick with it.
2. Separate work and school.
Another way to keep your life balanced is by creating a boundary between work and school. This means that you don’t study when you should be working, or let work interfere with your online classes, in the name of multitasking. Although this can seem daunting, it can help to think of school as a part-time job. Your school and work schedules should be kept separate, just as two jobs would be.
3. Get a support system.
Make sure your friends and family know that your schedule is about to change. When the people in your life understand that you’re going back to school, they can be great sources of help and support. Whether your spouse steps in to do some household chores or your friends text you and ask how classes are going, their encouragement will help you achieve your goals.
4. Study something you enjoy.
If you are interested in the field of study you pursue, there’s a better chance that you’ll actually enjoy learning about it. This means that you’ll devote more time to your degree program and also be more motivated to succeed.
5. Use your resources.
Most schools offer a wide variety of resources for online students. From instructors and student success coaches to online library access, additional support is always available. Whether you are struggling with a particular topic or just confused about an assignment, don’t hesitate to reach out for help if you need it. The interactive nature of online education means that you have access to resources when you need them, from email to live chats.
6. Stay healthy.
When you have a packed schedule, it’s easy to put health on the back burner. However, while skipping a few hours of sleep a night may seem like an easy way to fit more in your day, in the long run, it can lead to illness and burnout. Practice healthy eating habits, get enough rest, and make time to exercise a few times a week — doing so is vital to your physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
Taking time to relax may not seem like a priority, but allowing some “me” time each week is important. Whether that means a weekly dinner date with your friends or staying in to watch movies, relaxation is important to give your mind a break.
8. Keep your goals in mind.
As you work to balance work and your degree, remember why you’re doing so. Everyone has their own reasons for going back to school, from increased earning potential to career advancement. Whatever your personal reason is, keep it in mind so that your goals are always in sight.
Concordia University, St. Paul is ready to help you meet your goals through continued education. Our online programs are designed for working adults. We use a variety of online tools to enhance our courses and make them more effective for nontraditional students. Learn more about our online programs and discover what the Concordia advantage can mean for your career.