Late night study sessions. Lecture halls. Blue books. If you have gone back to school or are considering going back, here are some tips for balancing work and school, and trying to have a life in the meanwhile. (Author)
- Be honest about your needs. Adding
school to your schedule will require some adjustments. Speak to your
employer and discuss options for flexible scheduling. Don’t forget to tell
your family how they can help.
- Be realistic. Find the syllabus
for a class before you begin. Check online, or ask the professor or
program coordinator. This should help you determine how much time a class
will require. Don’t overextend yourself – it’s better to stay in school
for an extra semester than to burn out before you can enjoy graduation.
- Set up a study schedule and stick to
it. You know your body, and you know when you are most alert. Work
with those times. Always allow yourself some extra time as a buffer – you
never know when you’re going to find concepts difficult or when
emergencies will arise at work.
- Set up a study space. Find a quiet
nook at home, preferably not in your bedroom. Keeping your schoolwork
separate from the rest of your life will keep you focused.
- Schedule time for yourself. Make
time for things that you enjoy– treat yourself to a movie, a walk, a
bubble bath. Taking a half hour to watch The Office isn’t going to help you earn your degree, but it
may give your brain some time to recharge.
- Take breaks. You cannot learn by
cramming. Try to take a ten-minute breather for every hour you study.
- Keep healthy snacks with you at all
times. Bring things like peanut butter or trail mix for a low-calorie
energy boost. If you snack throughout the day, you will be less likely to
overeat or to grab a quick burger and fries while you’re driving to class.
- Take a few moments between work and
class to recharge. Take a quick walk, stretch, and breathe. Can’t fit
it in? Take advantage of a mid-class break to help you stay focused on
- Know when to ask for help. Speak
up if you don’t understand a concept.
Ask a friendly classmate, or seek out your professor out during
office hours. Got a major exam? Let your supervisor know that you’ll be
spending extra time studying. Even if you can’t cut back, your team should
know why you seem distracted.
- Stay organized. Rely on your
appointment book, calendar, to-do list, or post-it notes. Find what works
best for you and go with it.
- Take pride in what you are doing.
Buy a t-shirt with your school’s logo. Watch your basketball or football
team compete. There’s more to school than lectures.
- Keep your eye on the prize. This
schedule won’t last forever and soon you’ll have a diploma to show for all
your hard work.
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