Get your degree and still have time for yourself
If you have a full-time job but don’t have a degree, you may have noticed that you don’t make as much money as your diploma-toting colleagues, or maybe you’ve been passed over for one or two promotions. If you’ve made the decision to go back to school, you might be feeling a little overwhelmed as you wonder how you’re going to fit a college education into your already busy schedule. While it might seem daunting, remember that people do it all the time. Online degree programs and campus programs for working adults make this even easier.
Balance work and school. The first key to balancing work and school is staying organized and always knowing what your calendar looks like for each. If you know you have a conference coming up in two weeks and a paper due in three, you won’t have any excuses not to get that paper finished on time, and you won’t miss any of the excitement at your conference. Try using a day planner or even an online calendar to manage your tasks. Surprises and unplanned events almost always pop up, but if you’re flexible with your time and stay on top of your assignments for work and for school, emergencies won’t disrupt your entire schedule as dramatically.
Separate work from school. It’s also important to keep work and school separate. You probably already have a set daily work schedule, so make one for school, too. While you’re at work, don’t worry about your next exam—you don’t need the added stress affecting your performance at work. And the same goes for school. When you’re writing a paper or studying for a test, forget about your job. Concentrate on thing at a time. Keeping the two separate will help any feelings of being overwhelmed at bay.
Make time for playtime. You need to make time for the fun stuff. Life isn’t all about working and going to school. You won’t have as much time to indulge in a good book or hang out with your friends, but it’s important to designate time that’s just for you—a jog in the morning before work, Thursday evening happy hours or lazy Sunday afternoons all to yourself. You’ll need support from your family and friends, so while you want them to give you space and let you take the time you need to study and prepare for class, you can still keep them actively involved in your life.
Keep your eye on the prize. When things get tough, remember the reason you took on this extra responsibility in the first place. Are you going to school to land a promotion? Going after a new career? Fulfilling a lifelong dream? Stress is probably inevitable, but when it’s at its worst, remind yourself of your goals. Keep track of what you need to do to get through your online degree program and how far you’ve come. Realizing what you’ve accomplished is bound to make you feel a strong sense of pride, and knowing where you’re going makes getting there a lot easier.
With the availability of evening and weekend classes, and part-time and online degree programs, it’s not at all unrealistic for a working adult to pursue a college education. With a little organization and balance, you’ll be able to earn the degree you’ve always wanted without disrupting your entire life.