Balancing Work & School

Studying & Working Full-time? 5 Things You Need to Succeed

For students everywhere, a new school year can bring the anticipation of new books, new teachers, and new classrooms. But if you are working full-time and going to school or taking a class to advance your education, the crisp fall air might signal an over-packed schedule, long nights, and a challenging balancing act that will have you spinning plates until the holidays.

If you are enrolled in school this fall, exams will fall at crunch time at work – it’s Murphy’s Law. To make it through, you’ll have to be prepared to dig in. But the good news is you are not alone. Many people like you have achieved a work-school balance and reached their goals. In fact, working while going to school can improve your performance. You may even be able to use your practical experience to write papers and complete assignments. So don’t be afraid – just be prepared for a new, exciting journey. Here are five of our best tips for balancing school and real life so you can make it through the year in Grade A shape.

1. Talk with the Boss

If you are a full-time employee going back to school, be up front with your boss about your commitments. If you are a valued worker, or if you are furthering your education as a way to advance within the company, your employer may be amenable to working with you on a flexible schedule during the school year, or to letting you leave early one day a week for a class or a designated study night. Most employers will appreciate your initiative, especially if they know your dedication to work will remain solid.

2. Get Family Support

The work-school balance dictates that time with friends, family, and partners will be limited. It might be hard at first on those closest to you when you’re coming home late, or holed-up studying night after night. Tell them why you’re doing it – whether it’s to build a better future, get a better job, or expand your horizons. If you have kids, be sure your partner or a family member is prepared to pick up the slack by babysitting or making meals during the week. Then, collaborate on a trip, outing, or some fun family time when the semester is over to give everyone something to look forward to.

3. Schedule It

Some people just aren’t natural schedulers – they prefer to take things as they come, and it works for them. However, if you are a full-time employee and a student, now is the time to take up the scheduling lifestyle. Consider what you’ll need to include in your newly scheduled week, and put it on paper or in a scheduling app. Will you need to wake up early? Catch up on sleep on weekends? Will studying require daily effort or a one-day-a-week cram session? Don’t forget to build in some buffer time to deal with unexpected issues or difficult assignments, and if you are a procrastinator, decide how you’ll kick the habit. You might enlist family or friends to apply peer pressure, or go cold turkey by scheduling study time every day, before crunch time hits, to get into the routine.

4. Ask for Help

First Lady Michelle Obama stressed it in her address to college-bound students this spring: “You’ve got to ask for help when you need it…,” she said. “You will not get through this alone.” No matter what challenges you are facing, asking for help can be the difference between success and failure. If you are a student enrolled at a college, many resources exist for those needing time management help, tutoring, or writing help, for instance. And, professors usually have office hours and are willing to help with things you may not understand in class, or offer guidance if you fear you might be in danger of falling behind. Reaching out is the first step to getting through those inevitable bumps in the road.

5. Stay Healthy

If you are balancing work, school, family, bills, and personal life, it can feel like there is simply not enough time in the day. Sometimes, exercise just doesn’t make the cut. Those who work and go to school are notorious for letting their health take a back seat. Don’t let it happen. The fact is, when your schedule is bearing down on you, you need time for yourself to combat burn-out and de-stress more than ever. Getting enough sleep, remaining active, and eating well is your ticket to keeping your energy, mood, and motivation out of the red zone. Remember how proud you’ll feel when you reach your goals – you can do it!

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