BE Smart > Career

A Balancing Act: How to Juggle Full-time Work and Part-time School

Check out these tips to keep it all together

In a 5-part series “Grad School vs. School of Life,” BlackEnterprise.com explores the pros and cons of pursuing an advanced degree in lieu of the job market. Job seekers, professionals and career experts weigh in to help you decide whether the decision is a good one in the grand scheme of ultimate career advancement and marketability.

Whether you decided to work two years or ten years before attending graduate school, returning to school while working a 9-to-5 can present itself as quite the challenge. However, today more adults are seeking to finish a college education, or work towards one of the many advanced degree programs than ever before. JeffriAnne Wilder, assistant professor at the University of North Florida, shares tips on how to create a healthy balance between schoolwork and professional duties.

Keep lines of communication open. At the graduate level, it’s important for working students, who’ve decided to make the transition to grad school, to understand how the different the workload is. It’s imperative to keep the lines of communication open with your employer, professors, family and friends and say ‘hey, this is what I’ve got going on’. As a professor, it’s always good for a student to let me know that he/she is working 40 hours a week and most professors will understand. It’s easier to manage when you keep everybody in the loop.

Take advantage of campus resources. Sometimes working students fail to recognize the campus resources that are available for grad students. The biggest misconception is that they believe that they campus resources only serve undergrad students. They have tons of resources that are focused on helping students earn their degrees, especially at larger universities. Your school may offer everything from commuter services to multicultural affairs, however your job is to make sure they have it.

Stay organized. It’s very tough to work full-time and go to school part time and you can get overwhelmed quickly. Some people underestimated how organized and disciplined you have to be even if you’re taking online courses. Even if you’re not having face to face time with your instructor, block off time and choose a day to complete your assignments. That way you can stay on top of everything you’ve got going on.

Don’t overdo it. Overload leads to burn out. Once you start graduate school, things can get difficult and you may not be able to take the 15 credit hours that you thought you could. Taking too many classes while holding down a full-time job can be a recipe for disaster. My advice is to follow the recommended course sequencing and take your time. It’s okay to go all year and take one or two classes at a time in order to have a healthy school and work life balance.

Check out the rest of the “Grad School vs. School of Life” series:

Part One: 4 Things to Consider Before Pursuing a Graduate Degree

Part Two: 4 Worst Excuses for Pursuing an Advanced Degree

Part Three: 4 Good Reasons You Should Pursue an Advanced Degree

If you work and attend school, what are some challenges you face? #SoundOff and follow Jamie on Twitter @JayNHarrison.