Tips for Balancing a Part-Time Degree with Other Commitments
The idea of going to college can be incredibly exciting. You’ll get more opportunities for work, new experiences, and a better understanding of the world around you. However, if you are considering taking on a part-time degree program, there are some challenges that you might have to prepare for. Along with dealing with an increased workload and managing time wisely, part-time students need to be flexible regarding their schedules and willing to adjust them as needed to make things work.
Here are some tips for balancing part-time study with other commitments.
Balance school, work, and family
Make a list of everything you have to do. This includes all of your commitments, responsibilities, and obligations. Determine how much time each item requires per day (or week). Take into consideration any flexibility that is possible in either your work schedule or school schedule. Then, decide what you can realistically accomplish and set up a schedule accordingly.
Prioritize your needs, interests, and relationships
Whether you’re balancing school with work, family, or another commitment, you need to make sure that the things that matter most to you are not left by the wayside. If you don’t get sleep, eat well or exercise enough, for example, it will affect how well you perform in school. Similarly, if some people or things make you happy, ensure they are not neglected. Success in any endeavor, including returning to school, requires your priorities to align with your goals and objectives.
Decide how much time each week will be devoted to studying, working on papers, and attending class meetings. Check your course listings for required readings so you can prepare in advance. Make sure your schedule allows enough time for studying outside of class hours, especially if tests are coming up soon.
Find time to study
Finding time to study is a challenge for most people. It’s easy to get caught up in the idea that you need to devote a specific number of hours per week to studying and then scramble to find those hours in your schedule. However, if you don’t have the luxury of being able to dedicate as many hours as you would like, it can be tricky to make sure that you are completing your studies. The good news is there are some ways around this.
You can try to avoid studying at the same time every day; mix things up so that it doesn’t get too routine and boring. You could also consider avoiding certain times altogether. If your job or family commitments mean there are certain times when they demand your attention (like during dinner), perhaps avoiding studying during those times would work better for now. If possible, try not to space out studying sessions too far between other commitments as this could lead to more problems down the line, such as forgetting what was learned previously.
Adopt a routine
First, you need to make a plan. Consider how much time you can devote to your studies each week and your priorities. Then, if necessary, adjust those priorities so that your study time is included in those first few slots of the day or week; that way, it’s more likely to happen.
Make sure you’re in the right program
It’s important to make sure you’re in the right program. If a class is too difficult, it can be very discouraging, but if you’re in a program that’s not right for you and struggling with it, it can be even more discouraging. Make sure the program is one that you want to study and a good fit for your schedule and budget.
Inform your employer
Talk to your employer about the possibility of working part-time while studying. This can be an awkward conversation, but it will be worth it if they are supportive and understanding. After all, they’ll have an idea of what your workload is like while undertaking a full-time course load and may be able to help with keeping track of time commitments or providing flexibility in your working hours if needed.
It’s important to ensure that everyone who knows about your plans is kept up to date on potential changes, including family members.
To get yourself motivated and on track, consider creating milestones. First, create a schedule. If you have more than one commitment, you’ll need to ensure that your time management skills are sharp. Then, use a calendar to keep track of deadlines and set goals for yourself. Make sure your milestones are achievable so they don’t feel overwhelming; this will help you stay motivated throughout your studies.
Find out what your school offers
When it comes to a part-time degree program, many schools offer flexible options to help you fit in your studies around other commitments, such as the online social work degrees from Florida State University. If you need to take classes at night or on weekends, ask about different scheduling options and see if any online courses are available. Some schools even have evening or weekend classes taught by instructors based in their international offices so they don’t have to travel back to their home country every week.
Get enough sleep
If you’re balancing studies with other responsibilities, you’re probably not getting enough sleep, which can seriously affect your ability to concentrate and retain information. Make sure to get at least 7 hours of sleep every night to feel well-rested and alert during the day. Here are some reasons sleep is important:
- It is important for your health and well-being, helping you feel good.
- It is important for memory and learning, including creative thinking and problem-solving.
- It is also useful for decision-making, physical health, and mental health.
You don’t have to put your life on hold just because you’re pursuing an education. Take breaks as often as you need them, such as when you feel stress or exhaustion starting to build up. Don’t wait until it gets unbearable; take a break right away. Try relaxing activities such as meditation, reading and listening to music, or going for a walk outside (or even inside), and see if this helps refresh you mentally and physically.
These breaks must be relaxing; otherwise, they could end up causing more stress than they relieve. If your breaks end up feeling more like work in their own way, they’re not doing their intended job of giving your mind some time off from its usual responsibilities, whether those involve school or not.
Socialize with your classmates
Ensure you make an effort to get to know your classmates. Not only does this help you feel supported and build a sense of community but having close relationships with people in your program can also be very helpful when you need to ask for help.
Similarly, don’t be afraid of talking about personal issues or family concerns in class. It’s important to remember that most people are there because they want an education – not just a degree – so they’ll be more than happy to listen while you talk about your personal life if it helps them understand the subject material better.
Adopt a healthy diet
Eat healthy meals. This includes fruits, vegetables, and other whole foods that have been minimally processed. Avoid unhealthy snacks such as candy bars and chips, which are high in sugar and fat.
Eat smaller portions of food at meals to prevent overeating. If you’re hungry a few hours after eating breakfast or lunch, try drinking a glass of water before getting a snack.
Exercise is one of the most important things you can do for your body and mind. It can reduce stress, improve mood, help with weight loss, strengthen bones and muscles, improve sleep quality, boost energy levels and fight off disease. Studies show that people who exercise regularly are generally happier than those who don’t exercise.
However, it’s not always easy to exercise when juggling a part-time degree alongside other commitments such as work or childcare.
Here are some tips for making sure you can fit in regular exercise.
Make exercise a priority
If something else comes up at the last minute (which it probably will), reschedule it until later so you can work out first. No excuses!
Find an activity that suits your schedule
Exercising early in the morning or late at night depends on what suits your lifestyle best, but don’t feel like there are only certain times of day when exercising is acceptable. Take advantage of any opportunities available, which might mean waking up earlier or staying up later than usual.
Set up a study area
The key to setting up an effective study area is finding a place that is distraction-free so you can concentrate on your work. A small desk and a comfortable chair in your bedroom will do just fine as long as it’s free from clutter and distractions.
Remember that part-time student are still students, and they need to make time for the same things as full-time students do. To balance school with other commitments, it’s important to stay organized, prioritize your needs and interests, be flexible with your schedule and take breaks when needed. You can also attend class regularly by planning ahead or making a routine out of studying each day. Ensure you stay in optimal health by eating healthier foods and getting plenty of sleep.