5 Tips for Balancing Work While Earning Your Online Degree

Balancing work while earning an online degree isn’t easy. While younger students have the luxury of living at school and focusing exclusively on their studies, you have what must sometimes seem like an endless list of outside pressures pulling you away from your schoolwork. You may have children to care for, debts to pay, meals to cook, messes to clean — the list never ends.

Committing yourself to finishing your degree — or earning a new one — is an important step toward improving yourself. When you complete your degree, you can look forward to better job prospects, a higher salary and a better life for yourself and your family. In the meantime, though, things may occasionnally feel difficult. These tips can help you achieve balance between work and online education.

Inform Your Employer

After enrolling in classes and receiving your schedule, you should inform your employer that you’ve decided to continue your education. Schedule vacation time around your exams, if you can, and ask your manager if you can have a bit of flexibility in your work schedule when you need it. When you finish your degree, your employer may even give you a raise or promotion.

Create a Firm Schedule

It’s a bad idea to attempt to schedule your time on the fly. If you simply try to work on whatever task seems most important at the moment, you’ll have trouble balancing work and school because you’ll often have difficulty deciding what you should do at any given time.

Instead of scheduling your time on the fly, ask your academic advisor to provide an estimate of how much time you’ll need to schedule for schoolwork each week. Divide the time evenly to determine your daily workload for school, and set a daily time at which you’ll drop whatever you’re doing and focus on your studies.

Optimize Your Effort

Is your area of study related to the industry in which you work? If it is, you should try to optimize your effort whenever possible. Can you use a school project as a proposal at work? Could you receive course credit for a report that you compiled for your employer? Using the same projects for both work and school is a highly effective way to utilize your time. It can also be a fun way to balance work and online learning.

Lean on Others for Support

Your friends and family can create a valuable support network as you attempt to work while attending online classes. If you have children and prefer not to hire babysitters, you could ask a family member to watch your children on exam days. If your employer is inflexible about your schedule, you could ask a friend at work to swap schedules with you. Friends and family can also help when you’re feeling stressed and simply need to vent.

Avoid Burnout

If you attend classes online while working a full-time job, you’re going to have a lot less spare time than the average person. If you burn yourself out, your work and studies will both suffer — so schedule time for relaxation. It isn’t fair to expect yourself to work every hour of every day.

Earning a degree while working a full-time job is never easy — even if you have helpful friends, a sympathetic family and a flexible employer. However, you’ll find the effort worthwhile when you enjoy your better job and higher salary. In the meantime, balance work and online learning by scheduling your tasks carefully and utilizing your personal network for support whenever possible.

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