Committing to an online degree program is a great way to learn while holding a full-time job. However, juggling school and work, even online coursework, can be an unexpected challenge. When you’re dealing with a demanding job as well as a full course load, it can be easy to fall behind or become overly stressed. Here are a few fail-safe tips for balancing your work life with your online education goals.
1. Make a Schedule, and Stick to It
As with any high-stress situation, making a schedule can be extremely helpful in terms of keeping your priorities straight. Having a schedule will give you an automatic routine, and stop things from sliding into chaos. For instance, if you carve out an hour a day when you get home from work for class assignments, an hour for dinner, and an hour for yourself, you’ll be much more likely to actually use the allotted time to get things done. Even on days when it feels like a stretch, try and keep to your schedule. Keeping up productivity at work and at home will make you feel more in control, and will keep you from feeling overwhelmed.
2. Set Goals
Goals are arguably the most important part of a successful education. If you’ve made the decision to get an online degree despite having a full-time job, it will serve you well to know what you’re actually working toward. Are you making moves to get on a different career track? Are you trying to learn more about your current job? Maybe you’re simply interested in something you never had a chance to study in-depth. Whatever your reasons, set goals to meet weekly, monthly, or in whatever time increments feel comfortable to you. That way, you’ll never be able to lose sight of why you’re doing this in the first place.
3. Ask for Help
If you’re someone who tends to take on a lot and get in way over their head, having a support system in place is going to come in very handy as you pursue your degree. Having supportive friends, family, or partners makes all the difference in allowing you to create a full, active life without getting completely overwhelmed by all your commitments. If you have extra responsibilities like children or pets, call in friends as much as you can to take care of them. Accept that you can’t do everything on your own and that you’re certainly not expected to. If you’re taking on too much at work, at home, or while pursuing your degree, chances are you won’t be fulfilled in the long run.
4. Be More Flexible
Before looking at online programs, take a minute to look at your life and decide how it could be better organized. Allowing yourself to be flexible when it comes to pre-existing commitments will come in handy when you find yourself saddled with the added responsibilities of school. Even in online programs that allow a good amount of flexibility, like one offered by Michigan State University, you’ll find that you still need to be the one to make compromises and realistically plan out how you’re going to balance your work life and your education.