How to Juggle School and Work: 7 Helpful Tips for Maintaining Balance
Figuring out how to juggle school and work can be a stressful part of going back to pursue your degree. Concentrating on your classes and coursework takes time and energy, and it's important to find the right ways to fit this extra work into an already busy professional and family schedule. A big part of balancing work and school is time management, but there are some specific things you can do to make sure you're making the most of your available time. Below we have some suggestions on how to handle studying and classes alongside a full work schedule without sacrificing time or attention for either.
Tell your employer you're going back to school.
If you're pursuing a degree that may be relevant to your current job or career path, you should talk to your employer about returning to school before classes start. Sometimes companies may offer tuition reimbursement programs, but your employer may also be willing to work with you regarding any schedule changes or other accommodations if they know you're working on skills that are relevant to your position. Having this conversation with your employer ahead of time also helps you better understand the amount of time you'll be able to invest in school without neglecting your current work responsibilities, which can make scheduling and planning for classes easier each term.
Look into online programs and credit for your work experience.
Online classes can offer a number of advantages for working students, especially flexibility. Cutting out travel time to and from campus may seem like a small thing, but those minutes and hours can add up into valuable study or family time each week.
You may also check into whether the school(s) you're applying to offer any experiential learning credits to help you take advantage of prior knowledge and work experience. Programs like these paired with adaptive learning technology can help students make use of their professional experience in order to work through a degree program faster. If you're able to earn credit by demonstrating your prior knowledge you may be able to save time and money.
Don't spread yourself too thin.
When it comes to how to juggle school and work, it's important to recognize your own limitations, be it time, stress levels, or family commitments. Avoid picking up extra shifts or taking on unnecessary projects at work, especially when you know you have a big assignment coming up. Likewise, don't take on more courses than you can handle each term—remember that it's better to take a little longer and get the most out of your degree program than to get burned out trying to finish too quickly.
Make a weekly to-do list (and stick to it).
One way to ensure you maintain time for both work and family responsibilities alongside schoolwork is to make a to-do list with your major tasks each week. Block off work hours as well as any time you plan to spend running errands, making dinner, or devoting to family activities—then realistically assess when you'll be able to work on your classes and plan specific times for each course or homework assignment.
To-do lists like this help you stay on track throughout the week if you force yourself to stick to them, but they can also point out issues with time commitments and overload in advance. If you're trying to fit all of your work and school responsibilities into a weekly to-do list and find that you don't have any breathing room left for family time or relaxation, you may be taking on too much.
Find a quiet spot for working.
Equally important as setting aside specific times for school work each week is having a dedicated space just for studying. With limited time between work and school, you need to make the most of any free moments you get during the day, and a space free from other work and family obligations can help you maximize these study hours. If possible, find a quiet, distraction-free area you can reliably use throughout the week to complete your course work.
Keep all your school and course materials well organized.
When it comes time to study or complete course assignments, you don't want to waste time searching for the relevant materials. Keep all your school supplies in one place, whether this is in a folder or a drawer in your study space or in an organized bookmarks folder in your web browser. Being able to go straight to the materials and web pages you need to get started working may also help you avoid the urge to procrastinate once you get some free time for the day.
Don't be afraid to rely on support from family and friends.
Juggling school and work can be tough no matter how well organized and prepared you are, so don't forget about the people you can lean on for support. Creating a strong support network of family and friends (and even coworkers and your employer) can make getting through the most stressful times a little easier. Additionally, don't forget to allow yourself some time to relax with friends and family regularly to avoid burnout.
Remember that you don't have to deal with the stress of work and school alone and that a little bit of extra organization and planning can go a long way. Don't forget to take time to congratulate yourself when you get through an especially difficult period of work and studying, either. Appreciating your accomplishments along the way can be a great way to keep yourself focused on all that you're working for long-term.
Looking for more ways to maximize study time between work and school? Try out some of our study tips.
The ability to reduce time in school and/or reduce tuition depends on the number of Fast Track™ courses successfully passed. Fast Track™ program credits are unlikely to transfer. Not all programs are eligible for possible 30% reduction in time and money.