How to build a support system while working and in school

So now you’ve committed to completing a post-secondary online education. But as with everything in life, chances are you can’t go it totally alone. You need support to aid in your success.

Here are some strategies for helping you stay on the straight and narrow:

  • Family and friends: These are the people who navigate your life with you day in and day out. Don’t be afraid to let them know the challenges you face or how they can help. Give them a heads up if you are heading into a particularly stressful period or one in which your contributions may appear a little less than usual, like during the end of the session.
  • Coworkers: If you have good relationships with your coworkers, they may be more than willing to trade shifts, allowing you to study or otherwise prepare for your classes and exams. If you are studying something that is useful to your employer, chances are you will be given a little bit of breathing room in the expectation that the company will reap the rewards of your newfound knowledge.
  • Professors and advisors: They are there to help. If you don’t understand, don’t be afraid to ask. Most instructors provide contact information for those times when you need additional assistance. Your advisor will help keep you on track and offer continued academic support throughout your degree program.
  • Librarians: Even in this age of high technology, there’s quite a bit to be gleaned from the librarians. Knowing what’s there and where to find it helps save you time that can be spent on the other demands of your life.
  • Study groups: For subjects that are especially challenging for you, find a study group. If one doesn’t exist, set it up yourself. Join clubs and connect with your classmates using available technology.
  • Virtual tools: Organize your technology in advance. Make sure you’ve got access to the Outlook calendar, instant messaging on the campus, and your campus email account. Also, it’s important to have the correct Microsoft Office programs to complete the assignments.
  • Career services: There are a number of things the career services office can do for students, like offering help to students who are undecided about their majors assess their skills and interests; resume and cover letter writing; and interview preparation. Career services also maintains relationships with employers, acting as a clearing house for jobs and networking opportunities, giving you a jump start on your new career.

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