Recent research from the National Center for Education Statistics has revealed that the majority of students continue working while enrolled in college at the same time. One in seven students are full-time employees, while six out of ten work part-time to fund their education. This reality has forced students to look for ways to balance their academic and work-related responsibilities.
Completing an education can be overwhelming for working adults. The number of families working overtime to cover basic expenses has increased in the last few decades. However, there are many success stories of adults who have managed to strike a balance between work and study. In this article, we talk about five effective strategies adult students may find useful to work and study at the same time.
Online education has been picking up steam in the last few years. If time is a concern, think about distance learning as a solution.
Distance learning is not a new concept, but recent technological advances have helped it expand into a serious contender to traditional, brick and mortar institutions. Federal statistics reveal that more than 6 million students took at least one online course during 2016. Two decades ago, the number of colleges offering online degrees were few and far between. In 2017, more than 5,000 colleges and universities offered some form of online education, including post-graduate degrees.
For adult students without enough time to attend a traditional college, our first recommendation is to enroll in an accredited online institution offering the desired degree. Many brick and mortar universities already have online versions of traditional degrees. However, keep in mind that some institutions may require students to show up in person periodically to take finals or fulfill other academic responsibilities.
Choosing an online institution may be overwhelming for adults trying to study online for the first time. There are a variety of things they should know before investing in an online degree. Factors such as regional accreditation, quality of teachers, academic requirement and tuition costs should be researched before settling down with a specific institution.
Balancing academic and work-related responsibilities is not an easy task. Creating a plan and sticking to it makes it easier.
Studying while having a job is a task that requires careful planning and execution. Keeping a detailed schedule is a step in the right direction to achieve balance between academic and work-related responsibilities. Prospective students are advised to design weekly and monthly plans, usually written in a calendar or stored digitally in a computer, tablet or smartphone. Applications such as Google Calendar are useful to set up timely alerts.
Sticking to the plan is critical to achieve academic success. However, it doesn’t mean modifications can’t be made. If a topic requires less studying time than predicted, it may be wise to focus energies on a more demanding subject. Scheduling allows adult students to free up time to meet work-related duties such as meetings or project deadlines.
Organizing studying sessions into clearly defined activities will help adult students get better results.
Most educational advisors suggest organizing studying sessions per academic task. Processing information about a specific topic during single sessions instead of several subjects at once will allow the brain to better digest the knowledge. If needed, organize daily sessions to cover all the subjects included in the semester.
Studying sessions should preferably last between one and two hours. Students should always avoid lengthy marathons, as they often hinder their ability to process information and may have adverse health-related consequences. In general, it is good practice to schedule studying sessions at the same time each day to create an effective habit. Overall, it has been proven true that short studying sessions are more effective and produce better results, as long as students stay organized and design specific goals to be achieved during sessions.
Having several short studying sessions provides an additional benefit: it allows adults to miss one without falling behind with schoolwork. This approach is recommended by most educational advisors given how often parents face unexpected events, such as their children getting sick.
Employers should be a part of the studying process. Some companies offer incentives to workers who study.
Sometimes, creating a good schedule may not be sufficient to fit enough studying sessions without affecting work-related activities. In these circumstances, the best thing to do is to notify employers about it and try to negotiate a potential solution. Depending on the job, an employer may be willing to sacrifice working hours if in return the company will gain access to a worker with better skills.
Employees with outstanding records are often given monetary incentives to pursue higher education degrees as long as they remain related to the job being performed. It is therefore recommended that prospective students discuss the matter with their superiors before they begin to study. Working over holidays or during breaks may be required.
Keeping your boss up to date with information about major academic responsibilities such as finals will help them avoid scheduling work-related activities around these dates. However, avoid inundating them with details about your academic responsibilities, especially at work.
Make sure not to bite more than you can chew. Understanding your personal capabilities will help avoid unnecessary setbacks.
Prospective students should, after creating a studying plan, understand how much time and energy they can dedicate to academic responsibilities. This will help them determine how many credit hours they can handle per semester before the workload becomes unbearable. Most colleges and universities are quite flexible with the number of courses a student can choose to enroll per cycle.
Adult students who work full time or have several part time jobs might find the information they need by talking to a counselor. With their help, it is often possible to develop a custom program that may take longer to complete but in return gives students the best possible path towards graduation. Informing teachers about work-related activities is also recommended. As professionals, and often parents themselves, professors are aware of the stress adult students go through every day.
The economy has been steadily improving in the last few years, yet many Americans are still working as hard as ever to stay afloat. A college degree is their best bet towards financial stability, but obtaining it requires significant sacrifices. Balancing academic and work-related activities is the most effective way to get desired results with minimal risk. Regardless of which balancing path they choose, the key is to stick to it.