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Online Degrees

Part of Western Governors University

October 22, 2010

Student Success

How to balance full-time work and studies.

Woman on laptop typing, thinking and smiling.

Full-time jobs can be unpredictable. For some, there is a standard clock-in, clock-out schedule that allows the freedom to balance work and home lives. For others, unexpected overtime can take over evenings and weekends, often limiting personal schedules outside work. If you are part of the latter group, you may be wondering how you can attend an online university while maintaining your demanding work schedule. A few changes can point your time management skills in the right direction. Read on for some tips.

Go in early. The dreaded first step of time management is discovering where time is wasted. However, with any small change comes eventual adjustment. 

If your job schedule allows you to determine your own eight-hour day, why not go in 
 at 8:00 instead of 9:00? Think of the extra study time you will gain by leaving work at 4 p.m. every day and beating rush hour traffic. Does a daily stop at the coffee shop interfere with your morning commute? Not only is making coffee at home more affordable, you’ll shave at least 10 minutes off your commuting time. If dropping your kids off at school limits the flexibility in your morning schedule, try organizing a carpool system with other parents, thereby cutting back on the days you have to wait for the school bell to sound before heading off to work.

Take advantage of breaks. Most full-time jobs come with at least a half-hour lunch. Instead of going out to grab a bite, try eating lunch at your desk and studying two or three days each week. Taking the extra time to focus on your online degree during the day will make your study time more efficient and will give you more time for personal plans in the evenings.

Make a flexible schedule. The key to earning a degree from an online university is adhering to a study schedule. That said, sometimes busy weeks are unavoidable. If you are only able to commit to half of your hour-long study session on Tuesday, don’t consider it time lost, consider it time to make up on Wednesday. Monitoring your daily study time will help you stay on track and make sure you are meeting your goals. If you can’t make up the full half hour on Wednesday, split it between two days. However you structure it, the point is to make it count.

Lay out the benefits to your employer. Many students pursue an online degree to further the career they already have. For example, a team leader working toward a degree in business could be promoted to a project management position. While there are obvious benefits to you as the student, your degree helps the people you work for as well. If your online degree relates to your current field, make sure your employer is aware of your student status. Talk to them about your studies and how they are helping you on the job. Your employer may be willing to lighten your load in favor of pursuing your online degree. After all, an educated workforce makes them look successful too.

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