Balancing Work and an Online Education

When you’re taking online classes while working full time, balancing your responsibilities can be challenging. But you’re not alone — many people who are earning a degree online are working professionals looking to gain new skills and advance their career.

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Your studies can take up a lot of your time, adding to your stress level and making it seem as if there are not enough hours in the day.

So, what can you do to ease the burden when you’re taking online classes while working full time?

Tips for Balancing Work and College

If you are like many online college students and are working full time, it may be best to enroll in classes part time. Even though it will extend how long it takes to earn your degree, enrolling part time allows you to better balance work with college so that you don’t become overwhelmed. It also gives you the opportunity to have time for other commitments.

Communicate with Your Employer

If you need to, you may be able to determine ways to adjust your expectations at work with your employer. Let your boss know that your studies will ultimately add to your value within the workplace. Ask if there is a chance for you to work remotely from home or to delegate your responsibilities to fellow coworkers. Also, don’t forget to keep your employer informed throughout the duration of your online degree program. Let them know if you need to take time off so that you can study and if you will be coming to work early or working late to make up for any lost time at the office.

Not only should you maintain good communication with your boss, but you should also communicate with your instructors. Make sure they’re on the same page as you are with your employer. If you ever end up needing extra time to complete an assignment because you have become too overwhelmed with work, they may be able to help you out.

If you need extra help, reach out to others. Tutors and your adviser can help you stay on track and understand course material. They are there to ensure your success throughout your educational journey, so don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Managing Your Time

The key to being successful with your studies while balancing work and college is effective time management skills. Having good time management skills can help you stay on track and accomplish more without becoming too stressed and missing assignment deadlines. To maximize your chances of success, consider following these time management tips:

Make Studying Part of Your Routine

To help keep up with your studies while working full time, set aside a couple of hours each evening for studying and stick to it. If you procrastinate too frequently, you will end up with too many assignments to complete and won’t be able to catch up with the rest of the class. Keeping to a set schedule and attacking your assignments in manageable chunks will help you prevent tasks from piling up and making your life overly stressful.

If your job isn’t a 9-to-5 or doesn’t offer consistent hours, consider fitting coursework into your breaks. Or, if you take public transportation to and from the office, you can complete some homework while on the subway or bus. In addition, you may have some time off around the holidays or other company-scheduled breaks, depending on your occupation. These breaks from work can be used to your advantage when you’re earning your degree online. During these breaks, you can get more studying done or to get ahead of the class.

One disclaimer: Online programs that are offered in an accelerated format may bring an opportunity to earn your degree sooner, but accelerated programs also require even more discipline for your study habits. Should you choose an accelerated or fast-track degree program, make sure you are prepared and have a study routine in place.

Set Intelligent Priorities

Organizing your priorities effectively is an important skill to have for school and at work. This helps you separate and understand what things you need to do and what things you want to do.

You NEED to finish writing that paper or get to work on time every day this week, but you WANT to go on a beach vacation or have a few drinks with friends this evening.

Keep a calendar to detail all of your commitments. Having a calendar provides you with a visual representation of everything that is going on. You can keep track of what’s coming up in the next week and month and list all of your assignment due dates or exams. Scheduling everything from work to school to hanging out with friends and family will help you be successful in the long run.

Get Ahead of the Class

If you can, work ahead of the rest of the class. Reading some chapters in the textbook, starting a paper, or completing other assignments in advance can help you reduce the chances of procrastination and give you more time for work and other responsibilities. Starting homework early, and even turning it in early, can lower your stress level and give you a greater chance of success.

For example, if you know you have a long essay to write by the end of your term, begin writing as soon as you receive the assignment. Or if you have a lot of reading for a class to complete within a certain amount of time, break it into manageable chunks so that you don’t become overwhelmed with the amount that needs to be done. For example, if you need to read 100 pages of a book for your English course by the end of the week, read 20 pages per day for five days.

How an Online Education Can Help You Succeed When Working Full Time

Learning how to balance a full-time job with an online education is an important skill to master if you are considering going back to school. Successfully doing so will set you on the right path for completing your degree with the least amount of stress.

Earning your degree online provides you with the flexibility to study whenever and wherever it’s most convenient for you. Online degree programs help eliminate scheduling conflicts between work and life responsibilities, and you can maintain your busy personal and professional schedules.

Pursuing your degree online also helps you save some time, as you don’t have to travel back and forth to campus. With many online programs being asynchronous — meaning that you don’t have to log into class at a specific time for lectures — you can conveniently fit your coursework in whenever you can, whether it’s while you’re on the city bus, during your child’s nap, or while you’re on break at work.

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