Can you really earn a degree or certificate while working full-time?
The short answer is: absolutely. These days, forward-looking institutions of higher education, like this top arts and technology school, offer flexible programs for students looking to pursue career-oriented credentials without, well, derailing their careers.
Of course, it’s up to you to balance your respective work and school obligations. Try these tips to make it work.
- Create a Dedicated Study Space at Home
If you don’t already have a home office, set one up before you enroll. Your future self will thank you for your foresight. For tips on how to organize home office (or study) spaces, especially in smaller living areas, check out this great guide from HGTV.
The goal of your home office is two-fold: to create a dedicated study space that doesn’t interfere with your about-to-be-severely-limited free time, and to keep you organized and on top of your game as work and school obligations mount. If you live with a roommate or romantic partner, they’ll thank you for not spilling out into your home’s common areas.
- Utilize Your School’s On-Campus Resources
Even if you do have a dedicated study space at home, you’ll want to spend plenty of time on campus. Student lounge areas, cafes, libraries, labs, and other common spaces are great places to buckle down and get to work. The key here is knowing what on-campus resources make you productive; if you expect that you’ll get distracted at home, for instance, you’ll definitely want to do the bulk of your schoolwork on campus.
- Turn to Friends and Family Members for Support
It takes a village, as they say. Turn to friends and family members for emotional and practical support as you work toward your degree. Your needs may be relatively modest — say, a neighbor coming by to feed your cat while you attend an evening class. Or they may be more involved — say, turning to a retired parent or stay-at-home cousin for childcare during the workday. Bottom line: Don’t be afraid to ask.
- Create Processes for Organizing Your Time
Learn to capitalize on the many small, scattered chunks of time you’re likely to have between class, work, and personal obligations. If you have 15 or 20 minutes free, do something with it, whether that means addressing a backlog of work-related emails or prepping for the presentation you’re set to deliver that evening.
- Reward Yourself for a Job Well Done
Don’t forget to reward yourself for a job well done, even (or especially) when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Knowing that you’re set to sit down to a nice restaurant meal on Friday evening or take yourself to the movies on Saturday may be all the incentive you need to power through the rest of the week.
- Put Together a Financial Plan
Last, but not least, address the financial ramifications of working full-time while attending school. If your income is sufficient, you may wish to begin paying off your education loans right away, even if you’re not obligated to do so until you graduate. This may require some sacrifice, but remember: you’re investing in your future.
You Can Do Both
Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t work full-time while pursuing a degree or certificate. Millions of people successfully balance work and school obligations; there’s absolutely no reason to believe that you can’t do the same.