Continuing your education can be an asset in many ways: you can increase career opportunities, explore a new field or simply acquire more knowledge. Going to school full time, however, requires a commitment that’s not feasible for some. For such individuals, online classes pose a practical solution.
Balancing online classes with full-time work can also be challenging, but certain practices in organization, time management and communication make it possible to succeed. If you’re tackling the work/online class juggling act, try some of these things to make it easier:
Be Open At Work
Tell your co-workers and boss that you are engaged in online schooling. Let them know that your class won’t interfere with your job. They’ll appreciate you telling them and might even offer to lighten your load. Your boss might even be impressed, especially if you’re going to school to be able to go further in the company.
Keep A Planner
When you’ve got so much going on, it’s best to document your work to-dos on the same page as your school to-dos. Not only does this keep you from forgetting items, but it also assists with time management. Writing down your assignments allows you to dictate which duties will be tackled first and last, and when exactly they’ll fit into your work schedule. Have a work project and lots of homework due on the same day? Reference your planner ahead of time so you’re not pulling all-nighters.
Befriend A Classmate Or Co-worker
At your class’s beginning, send out an email asking if anyone’s interested in weekly group meetings. If your online class already has set in-person sessions, befriend fellow members that way. Having an organized meeting time, and someone with whom you can communicate, will yield greater personal satisfaction. A friend in the class is also beneficial should you have any questions. At work, talk to someone who’s also going to school while on the job. You’ll find ways to motivate each other to stay focused on work through your education.
Use Time Efficiently
Make use of every moment. Mornings, evenings, lunch breaks – you should be thinking about efficiency constantly. If you’re used to taking work home when you don’t feel like finishing it in the office, you’ll need to start being more productive while on the clock. With your time at home now being spent on classes and homework, it’s best to get your work done while you’re on the job.
Prepare For Personal Sacrifice
Balancing work and class will quickly overtake your schedule. Prepare for this. Once your schoolwork is full-fledged, you may not have time for the personal luxuries you enjoyed in the past: dinners out every night, two-hour gym sessions, weekly book clubs or Wednesday night poker games. Carefully consider the things you can do without, and shift your agenda accordingly. When you’re anticipating the cutback in your social life, it doesn’t seem as bad when it happens.
You’ll also need to prepare for more expenses. Consider renting textbooks instead of buying, packing lunch instead of eating out, and planning your class times so you can driver there after work instead of making an extra trip.
Put Your Job First
Hopefully, organization and personal sacrifice will allow you to tackle both commitments successfully, but you may have to pick and choose once or twice. Remember that your job is your source of income and living may be hard without it. Getting a bad grade on an assignment, in the long run, is not as bad as losing your job.
If you put your mind and time toward the work/class balance, you’ll be successful.