Juggling full-time work and pursuing academic goals is challenging but not impossible. Recently, there has been an increased demand and enrollment in non-traditional educational programs due to the advancement of various fields requiring qualified and experienced individuals. It also means that the academic programs have become more advanced and constantly upgrade in line with the changing industry demands.
According to the US Census Bureau, the number of people enrolled in master’s and doctoral degree programs has doubled since 2000, with 13.1% holding a master’s, professional or doctoral degree, totaling 21 million. Between 2000 and 2018, the percentage of people with a bachelor’s degree or higher grew immensely, almost 30%.
These statistics show the demand for continuing education alongside work for several reasons, including increased pay rate, ability to secure higher positions, and improved career growth prospects.
So, if you are struggling with furthering your education while working full-time, this guide provides insightful tips to manage both simultaneously.
1. Enroll In an Online Program
Technological advancements, combined with the popularity of distance learning, have made it much easier for working individuals to pursue academic pursuits. Online degrees offer the following advantages:
- The ability to study at your pace without being constrained by class timings
- Complete your degree earlier
- Hold higher positions as soon as you acquire your degree
- Less tuition as compared to on-campus classes
- Take lessons from anywhere
- Get access to the entire course material from the online portal
Online degrees are incredible for those seeking to improve their academic credentials, sharpen new skills, and land higher roles. Besides, you can find online degrees for every field and domain nowadays. For instance, if you work in finance, enrolling in an online MBA in finance will offer a convenient way to attain higher education and manage work responsibilities. Acquiring an MBA in finance will enable you to secure leadership positions, develop industry-relevant skills, and accelerate career advancement.
2. Manage Time Effectively
Effective time management is crucial when juggling multiple things simultaneously. Effective time management strategy entails:
- Setting a certain time for study, personal time, and work
- Drawing a schedule for yourself and sticking to it
- Studying early in the morning before heading to work or after coming home
- Setting your study objectives for each day along with the time to achieve those to ensure minimal time wastage and spend focused quality time studying
- Remembering to spend enough quality time with your loved ones and fulfilling personal commitments
Effective time management will ensure the following:
- You will have enough time to relax and unwind and avoid overworking, which may lead to productivity loss and exhaustion
- You will feel relaxed and less stressed out by multiple responsibilities
- It will alleviate your organizational skills and make your life easier
3. Discuss Academic Goals with Your Manager
Even though many colleges offer programs that accommodate working professionals and offer flexibility, issues can arise. So, be transparent about your academic goals and communicate them with your boss for the following reasons:
- It establishes trust between you and your supervisor
- If you’re unable to work overtime, your boss knows the reason
- If your exams are near, you may need to take a day or two off from work. If your manager knows about your ongoing degree program, you will have a valid reason for your absence.
- You may also need to join study groups or take extra classes if you find the coursework challenging or feel left behind. Your work may become a second priority in such cases. Keeping your manager in the loop and informing them in advance will save you from trouble.
Ensure your manager knows about your program before starting it to get support and accommodate requests in advance. You can also try to compensate for the lost time by giving extra time when possible.
4. Communicate Your Academic Endeavors with Your Family
As important as it is to get your manager onboard, your family must also remain in the loop. If you have a partner and kids, your work and study schedule will affect them. Being open about your plans with your family will offer the following advantages:
- Cultivate support, understanding, and encouragement. Your family members can provide support during challenging circumstances.
- Make alternate arrangements for your duties if you can. If you are responsible for picking your kids up from school or any other duties, make alternate arrangements in advance and let them know if you cannot carry out those duties by yourself.
- Delegate household responsibilities according to your schedules.
- Manage realistic expectations by staying open and transparent.
- Your family members can also cultivate a sense of accountability as they check in with you to see how you are doing, ask about progress, and provide gentle reminders as needed. Their involvement will help you stay focused, determined, and committed to your academic and professional pursuits.
- If you live in a household with professionals and experienced individuals, they can provide valuable insights that can benefit you in many ways.
5. Become Familiar with Academic Tools
Technology disruption in academics has introduced us to various helpful academic tools making our lives and academic journeys easier. So, try to familiarize yourself with these tools:
- Learning Management System (LMS): Familiarize yourself with the LMS tool used by your institution. Your educational institute may use various forms of LMS to deliver instruction, including Canvas, Moodle, and Blackboard. Make sure that you understand these tools before beginning your program.
- Online Communication Tools: Ensure you have access to the online tools used by your institute to deliver instruction. You may need to install Zoom, Skype, Google Meet, or Microsoft Teams to attend live lectures and seminars. These applications connect you with your professor and classmates in real-time and are essential for group projects, virtual meetings, and seeking clarification regarding the subject matter.
- Productivity and Time Management Tools: These include task management applications, such as Todoist and Trello.
Academic pursuits for employed individuals may seem challenging. However, it’s crucial for several reasons, such as career advancement, upskilling, and reskilling. You can make it less challenging by following tips such as enrolling in an online program from one of the top institutes.
Likewise, employ effective time management strategies and stick to a schedule. Discussing your academic goals with your manager and family members is equally important to cultivate support and encouragement. Lastly, familiarize yourself with the online education tools to make it easier to navigate the course material and virtual meetings.