How to Balance Work and Your College Education
Millions of college students balance their education with work, the latter necessary to sustain them as they pursue a degree. Determined to complete their education, such students have found a way to work full-time while taking classes on the side. This educational approach, of course, takes longer than attending college full-time. But, it often gives students that must work the opportunity to further themselves in a very competitive job environment.
1. Make a plan. You know that you have to work, and your work may be full-time. When it comes to taking classes, all you will be able to manage is one or two courses per semester.
Still, you’ve already laid down a path to achieving your degree. Two courses a semester plus one over the summer means that you can complete five classes or 15 credits each year. Keep at this for eight years and you’ll get your degree.
2. Look at your options. Perhaps the balance between work and school is bit too tilted to your employment. You might not be able to scale back your work completely, but your boss may agree to work with you as you achieve your educational goals.
Inform your boss when a big test is scheduled or a term paper is due. Save your vacation days or other time off and work with your supervisor to have that time set aside for your preparation. Consider that a half-day off may provide what you need; get your boss on your team as you get prepared.
3. Consider your online choices. Colleges are much more flexible toward students that must work. Indeed, entire colleges and universities have arisen that allow students to work entirely away from campus including the University of Phoenix, Kaplan University and American Public University.
Of course, you don’t have to take courses from these schools. Indeed, most traditional colleges and universities now offer online and distant learning opportunities. You may find that taking a blend of on-campus and distance courses is the best option for you.
One important consideration: if you take courses at an online-only institution, will your credits transfer to another school? You need to know this before starting such a program.
4. Enlist family and friends for support. You are on a long educational road when you decide to work and attend school part-time. You cannot take this road without some assistance, nor should you.
Ask your family and friends to support your efforts. Moral support is the most critical need here as you will often feel torn between finding the right balance. If you are married and have children, gaining that support is essential for a house divided shall not stand. Provide some give and take yourself — do not neglect attending important family functions and do so without distraction.
Once you know what your goal is and have mapped out a plan, the rest shall fall into place. If you find yourself feeling tired or overwhelmed, take a summer off and do something else. You can always make the missed course up at another time, but you cannot make up missing an important family event especially if your children are young and reaching their own important milestones.
See Also — How to Balance College & Work