Juggling Full-Time Work & School How to Balance It All & Still Stay Sane
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How to Balance It All & Still Stay Sane
Today there are many more non-traditional students pursuing degrees than ever before, which means the typical college experience looks a little different. The estimated percentage of students who work while in school hasn't changed much over the last several decades, but the number of hours these students are working has. A Georgetown Universityreport超过75%的研究生和大约40%的本科生在上学期间每周至少工作30小时。四分之一的在职学习者在从事全职工作的同时上全日制大学。And on top of that, about 19% of all working students have children.
Balancing a full-time job with a full course load – and for some, handling family obligations as well – isn't easy. If you're one of the many trying to balance it all, read on to get expert recommendations on how to manage school and work without losing your sanity.
The Benefits of Keeping Your Full-Time Job While in School
Working full-time while in school certainly doesn't make getting good grades any easier. But there are many advantages you may not have considered when it comes to full-time work and the pursuit of a college degree. Some of the biggest benefits include:
You'll have a steady salary to help pay for school
You can take advantage of employee benefits
You'll have more professional freedom post graduation
You'll gain real world skills
A degree means little to employers if you don'thave the skills,对你的职位有充分贡献的经验和知识。虽然你肯定会在大学里学到很多东西，但要想在专业领域取得成功，你所需要的很大一部分东西将来自于你在工作中所学到的东西，以及你在课堂之外的工作中获得的软技能。
You'll have an enhanced classroom learning experience
A great way to reinforce what's learned in the classroom is to apply that knowledge to real world settings. Working full-time, especially in a profession related to your field of study, provides this learning opportunity. And, even better, you can do so immediately. Many college students can do this through internships, but the opportunities may not be as frequent or readily available compared to those who work full-time.
You'll maintain a professional mindset
Full-time work requires a different attitude than full-time school. Those who attend school but do not work have the opportunity to take days off, might have hour-long breaks between classes and get long breaks during the summer and winter. Moving from that schedule to a working professional one can be a tough adjustment. But for those who already work full-time, there is no adjustment period â there is simply relief once the school term is over, as they have more time in their schedule.
14 Tips for Balancing Work and School
Apply for grants and scholarships
Even though you're working full-time, financial aid such as grants and scholarships are still important and can help alleviate stress. “Several people told me before I went back for my MA not to enter a program unless the school was willing to give me funding,” explains Jenny Rush, who pursued her undergraduate and graduate degrees while working full-time and raising a daughter. “I'm glad I stuck that out – I had to fight for funding, but I don't have any debt now.
Take time for yourself
When you're juggling work, school and everything in between, taking time for yourself may sound impossible but it's important to make space for “me time” every now and then. Rush says making time for yourself is a must: “Force yourself to take a day off and force yourself to be social. I started going out once a week during my MA program just to preserve my mental health. It was critical.”
Discuss your academic goals with your boss
Get your family onboard
Family buy-in is crucial. “If you're living with your partner, and especially if you have kids, talk through how going back to school will affect them,” advises Rush. “Let them know how their lives will change, and make sure they know you're still there for them, too, even if you're working long hours or spending time studying. And make sure to still take time to do things that are important to them when you can.”
Make family arrangements before enrollment
If you have family obligations, such as taking care of a child, parent or other family member, be sure to discuss changes in your schedule and make arrangements for care before you apply or enroll in school. Whether it's a babysitter, family member, paid caretaker, daycare or assisted living, start researching options before you apply and set everything up before your first day of class.
Become familiar with academic tools
Create a system for staying organized
Rush swears by a solid scheduling plan. “My schedule was so full I needed to carefully manage my time. We have two calendars in my house – physical calendars where we write everyone's schedule on – and I have a paper planner, as well as my Outlook calendar for work. I would recommend writing your schedule down in more than one place. Also, think about how your day will be structured and make sure you can juggle what you need to fit in.”
Reward yourself for a job well done
When something great happens, like a promotion at work, acing an exam or getting accepted into your chosen major, reward yourself! Stay sane by celebrating the small victories on your way toward the final goal. The anticipation of your reward can give you that extra bit of motivation to keep working or study just a few minutes more.
Make the most of downtime
It may not always seem like it, but there is more time during the day to get things done than you might think. The trick is to make use of all of the available blocks of time as efficiently as possible. For example, let's say you need to memorize vocabulary words for a foreign language class. Make flashcards and place them in your pocket. That way, even three minutes waiting in line for coffee gives you an opportunity to get in a little bit of studying.
Find ways to be more efficient with your time
没有足够的时间吗?你可能没有有效地利用时间。如果你开车去上班，可以考虑乘坐公共汽车或火车，这样可以在通勤期间给自己留出学习的时间。如果你每天晚上花一个小时打扫房间，考虑减少开支，如果你负担得起的话，可以每两周或每个月做一次家政服务。如果你的孩子在上下班路上的日托所不方便，试着找一个更方便的日托所，减少你在路上的时间。You may have to get creative to squeeze everything in but shaving off even just five minutes here and there and reallocating that time to something like studying, work, yourself or spending time with family can make a big difference.
Don't overdo it
Once you've got a good rhythm in place, it can be easy to go full-tilt all the time, but be careful; serious burnout can tank your entire college endeavor. “Manage your expectations,” Rush advises. “Your life will change if you add school to your normal responsibilities. It's okay to let the laundry pile up. It's okay to stock up on frozen meals from Trader Joe's. Remind yourself it's not forever. I think most people can get through hard things by taking them one step at a time.”
Find or create a dedicated study space
Hire a babysitter
Even if you'll be home, consider hiring a babysitting service or having someone come over to keep an eye on your child while you get your school work done. It's a lot easier to concentrate without the distraction of a little one constantly asking for mommy or daddy every 10 minutes.
Plan absences well in advance
If you'll need to take a vacation day to study for an exam or miss a day of class because of an important meeting at work, figure when these conflicts will take place as far in advance as possible and make necessary arrangements. A boss is likely to be a lot more understanding when an employee asks for a day off months in advance compared to the day before. And if you know you'll miss class far in advance, you can take steps to compensate for what you'll be missing.
The Benefits of Attending an Online College
Flexible class schedule
The flexibility provided by online learning will probably be the biggest reason for you to consider an online program while working full-time. Not being tied to a set class time in a specific location allows you to work full-time and still complete your coursework when your professional, personal and family commitments allow. For many online students, “classroom time” may be very early in the morning before work, late at night after the kids are asleep or during weekends.
Depending on the program, the level of flexibility may vary. For some classes, you may have to attend class at a specific time, but you'll have the freedom to do so from anywhere you want. On the other end of the online flexibility spectrum, you can watch or listen to class lectures and turn in assignments any time you want and at your own pace. Most classes and programs fall somewhere in the middle, with students being able to “attend” class and complete assignments whenever they want within a certain time frame and final exams offered over the course of a few weeks, allowing you to choose which time is best for your schedule.
Ability to learn from almost anywhere
As long as there is an internet connection and your electronic device for learning (such as a laptop), you can access the course material. You can complete the class assignments anywhere that works for you. This means you can watch or listen to the class lecture during the work commute, while on vacation or even late at night in your pajamas. Not only is this convenient, but it allows you to most efficiently make use of your downtime.
Some online programs allow students to knock out some credits if they already have relevant work experience, which means students will have fewer graduation requirements and can earn their degree a little faster. This is often the case for online nursing programs, but other online programs also offer credit for work experience and/or accelerated options for qualifying students.
More collaboration with classmates
One might think being outside a physical classroom means a more isolated learning experience. But many professors and online programs take specific steps to get students actively involved in learning and collaborating with their fellow classmates. From live chats to projects involving virtual group meetings among students, online coursework can sometimes provide more opportunities for you to learn with your classmates and achieve a richer, more diverse academic experience.
Access to more academic options
With physical classrooms in a conventional program, you may be unable to attend a class of your choosing because it's already filled to capacity. Or maybe you can't relocate but still want to attend the top college for your program and it's across the country. With online colleges, these things are less of an issue because there are usually no physical limitations. If you live and work full-time in Colorado and want to attend a top program in California, you can do so without having to move and give up your job.
Obtaining an online degree, certificate or other credential is often cheaper than attending school as a traditional student. These cost savings can come in several ways. For example, online tuition rates may be lower for online students, there will be little to no commuting cost and you won't have to pay for campus housing. In fact, according toU.S. News and World Report, almost 20 percent of freshman college students do not live on campus and commute to each class, with the primary reason being to save money. For online students these savings are even greater, since there's no need to drive or take public transportation to/from class.
Jenny RushMother, graduate and full-time worker
Jenny Rush has been a teenage mother, a gas station attendant, a poet, a grocery store clerk, a lab tech, and more. Now she has two degrees, and works in marketing at BiOWiSH Technologies, a biotech startup that provides sustainable solutions for the agriculture and environmental management industries.
Jenny Rush earned an undergraduate degree in neuroscience and a master's degree in professional writing while working full-time and raising a young daughter. Find out what her experience was like and how she juggled it all.
Q. Why did you work full-time while attending college?
A. I'm guessing everyone has the same answer to this – because I had to! I couldn't afford not to. There was no way I could take out enough loans to cover living expenses for me and my daughter. I think if people have the chance to get an education without having to work, they should absolutely take advantage of that – it just wasn't an option for me.
Q. You chose a challenging curriculum! How did you get through it?
A. One step at a time! It helped that I was really fascinated by what I was learning. A big part of what motivated me to do well in school was my daughter. I wanted to set an example for her and show her that it is possible to take control of your own situation. Plus, I wanted to build a better life for both of us. Keeping the end goals in mind got me through my bachelor's degree. I didn't love my job, so I told myself that getting a degree would be a way to improve my situation. I didn't get a good job out of my degree in neuroscience – I hated working in a lab, so I stayed at the job I worked while I was earning my degree. That was disheartening, but I got good at it, and the pay was okay.
When I went back for my masters, the only way I got through was by being able to see the end in sight. I knew it was only going to take two years, and that got me through. Now I have a job doing marketing at a biotech company, which combines my love for science and my Master's in Professional Writing. Having a stable job that supports my daughter and I made the whole journey worth it.
Q. What did a typical day look like for you?
A. It varied a lot. When I was in undergrad, I would wake up around 6 am to get dressed, wake my daughter up, get her fed and ready for school and drop her off around 7:30 am. Then, if I had classes, I would head to campus and stay there for the day. If I was lucky, I could leave in time to pick her up and then go to work second shift – usually 3 pm to 11 pm. Then, I'd go to bed and do it all over again. On days when I didn't have classes, I usually worked earlier or spent the day working on school work. I worked weekends, too, so some weekdays I could just go to school, then come home and focus on my daughter.
Q. How many hours did you spend doing school work each week?
Q. What were some of your greatest struggles and your most rewarding moments?
A. I missed some important moments – I couldn't be at my daughter's open house. And there were times I was so exhausted. It was sometimes difficult to take my schoolwork seriously because I was already working two other jobs, but I really did want to learn.
Q. Whenever you started to feel overwhelmed or stressed, what did you do to refocus?
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