Balancing Work and Education

Balancing Work and Education

With the increasing demand for an educated workforce, coupled with the financial aid that the economic stimulus bill provides, there has never been a better time to think about returning to some form of education, whether it’s to earn a GED, bachelor’s, or master’s degree.

For the millions of people who have been laid off in the last few years, it’s becoming the only option. But it’s equally important for those of us who are lucky enough to still be working full time to invest in education: If you want to increase your earnings, get a promotion, or stay competitive in a fast-changing job market, going back to college is something you should definitely consider.

Many people worry that studying while working full-time will not be manageable. And while nobody who has done it will tell you that it’s easy, it’s actually not as difficult as you might think, provided that you find the right program, manage your time properly, and enlist the support of your family and your employer. You’d be surprised by how many people do it. The National Center for Education Statistics reported that 44 percent of adults surveyed participated in formal educational activities during the previous year.

Find The Right Program

How do you go about finding a program that will suit your needs? There are several ways of following a course of study while you work. Numerous colleges and universities offer online, evening, or weekend classes specially designed to cater to people who are not in a position to study full-time. To find the one that’s right for you, try a site, a straightforward and very user-friendly way of locating a course that will suit your individual circumstances. You simply input your area of interest, your current education level, and the type of degree you’re interested in, and the site will provide you with a list of options.

Tips On Time Management

Once you’ve enrolled, you’ll need to work out how you’re going to manage your time. Advanced planning is crucial. Here are some tips on how to fit study time into an already busy schedule:

Draw up a detailed schedule of how each hour of your week is spent: working, commuting, family time, eating, household tasks, sleeping, and leisure time. Then look at where you can allocate time for study, and schedule that time in.

Don’t be tempted to eliminate relaxation and family time. The hours that you spend in front of the TV can be reduced, and you may have to abandon some other leisure pursuits or hobbies, but it’s crucial to make time available for your family, and equally important to allow yourself a little “down time.”

Look at things like commuting and household chores. Can you study while you travel to work? Can you offload some household chores onto other family members, or just let them slide? Make use of “wasted” time, such as time spent commuting.

Make a study schedule, and stick to it. Your program providers and tutors will help with this. Online and part-time degree courses are designed for people like you, and support with time management will be built into the program.

Stay Flexible

The best-laid plans can go awry. Don’t let a sick child a traffic jam or any other unexpected event upset you. These things happen, and you’ll soon make up for the lost time.


Not just your studying, but everything. Practice saying “no” if you need to. Going back to college while working full-time is a big decision and one that you probably won’t take lightly. But the better informed you are, the easier it will be. There are some great books on returning to college while you’re working, and it’s a good idea to invest in one. One of the best is “The Adult Student’s Guide to Success” by Al Seibert and Mary Karr, which is available in most major bookstores. It will tell you all you need to know about life as a non-traditional student.

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