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Career Advice

Balancing Work and School When Studying Online

Online MBA degree programs have made it possible for nearly anyone to return to school for an advanced degree. Where in the past, adults may have been kept away from school by geography or work and family responsibilities, today, going to class online allows them to include school as a part of their lives, instead of building their lives around it.
However, even with the flexibility that online schools offer, there are still challenges to balancing school and other responsibilities. Online classes like the ones you will take while working toward a Scranton University online degree do not necessarily mean easier classes – and you still need to find ways to balance your school work with your family, job, community and home responsibilities.

Communication is Key

When you go back to school, one of the major beneficiaries of your newfound knowledge (besides yourself) will be your employer. So communicate with your supervisor and fill him or her in on what you are doing and ask for support. You may be surprised at how supportive your employer will be, offering backing, resources, information and time to get your school work done. If your employer offers flexible schedules, talk with your supervisor about taking advantage of that benefit. Switching to a four day workweek, for example, allows you to focus on your job for part of the week and your schoolwork for the remainder. Beyond your employer, though, you need support from your family. Talk with your spouse and work out arrangements that will allow you uninterrupted study time.

Get Out that Schedule

As soon as you get your first syllabus, budget your time so you can handle all of the work that you’re expected to complete. Set aside several hours on the weekend, for example, to complete your reading assignments or write papers. Build in time for discussion participation, homework assignments and getting clarification when necessary.
One strategy many students employ to keep their time organized is working backwards from major deadlines and breaking assignments into chunks. By setting small milestones for major projects, you avoid a major time crunch the day before an assignment is due and more successfully balance the demands of your life.

Keep in mind you can get a lot done in little pieces of time. Carry your textbooks with you, and read a few pages while the kids play in the park or during your lunch break at work.  Be prepared, though, to make some sacrifices in order to further your education. You may not be able to watch hours of television each night, or spend a Saturday afternoon playing a pickup basketball game. Understand that these sacrifices are temporary, though, and you will soon reap the benefits of an advanced degree.

Go Easy on Yourself

You probably want to complete your degree program as quickly as possible – and no one can blame you. However, you have to take your responsibilities and mental health into consideration as well. Some schools will limit the number of courses students can take each period, while others allow students to enroll in up to four or five. When deciding on your courses carefully consider how much time you have. You may need to balance your desire to finish early with what you can realistically accomplish. Taking an extra semester or year to finish your degree is not going to harm you in the long run, especially when you preserve your sanity.

Along the same line, whether you are taking one course or five, you must remember to take time for yourself while you are in school. Take a break every so often to do something fun, or to simply relax. Taking the time to de-stress and recharge your batteries keeps you on top of your game and able to give your best to everyone.
Choosing to go back to school is a major decision, and one that many people avoid out of concern for how they will manage all of their responsibilities. With communication, careful planning and an honest assessment of what you can realistically handle, though, it’s possible to manage all of your responsibilities and get an advanced degree.

About the Author:
Vivian Madison is an administrator at a small hospital and has been studying for her MBA online for the past 18 months. She de-stresses from her busy life by hiking in the mountains near her home as often as she can.

This is a guest post for TheEmployable

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