You Can Get a Degree While Working Full-Time – Here’s How
You don’t have to choose between pursuing a degree that could advance your career and that career itself. You can do both, at the same time, without burning out or shirking your non-professional, non-educational obligations.
How’s that possible? Simple. For starters, just keep these pointers in mind — and, when in doubt, turn to those who’ve come before you for advice and counsel.
Choose a Flexible Degree Program
Is a second bachelor’s degree worth the trouble? Perhaps, perhaps not.
A practical certificate or degree may be a better bet. Look for options offered by institutions with flexible, career-oriented programs, such as Centre for Arts and Technology. Committing to a full-time degree program before you’re sure you can handle the workload probably isn’t consistent with setting yourself up for success.
Determine How Much Time You Can Afford to Devote to Your Studies
Speaking of workload: Before you commit to a program, determine precisely how much time you can afford to devote to your studies. You’ll need to examine your existing personal and professional obligations, and understand which of them can and can’t be deferred or modified while you’re in school. The results of this analysis will inform your next steps.
Get Your Employer Onboard (and Make Sure They Know What’s in It for Them)
Next, make sure your employer is onboard with your endeavors, and clearly understands how your working life may change once you’re in school. It’s more likely than not that your employer will be onboard with your decision to go back to school, particularly if the credential you plan to receive is directly relevant to your current role. But you should still abide by the “no surprises” rule, the better to prevent miscommunication.
Pare Back Your Social Obligations
Carefully evaluate your social obligations and determine which, if any, you need to pare back while you’re in school. Consider consolidating multiple obligations into a single event — for instance, you might host a weekly coffee hour at your house, rather than meet multiple friends for coffee over the course of the same week.
Lean on Family and Friends for Support
That’s what they’re there for. Use them accordingly — they’ll be happy to provide the support as you work toward your dream.
Don’t Be Afraid to Dial It Back
Last, but not least, don’t be afraid to temporarily disengage from your studies if and when you feel that you’ve hit a wall. Most flexible degree programs allow students to take a semester or two off without jeopardizing their accumulated credits or financial aid package. In the long run, it’s better that you take some time for yourself than that you overload your capacity to absorb new information.
You Can Do This
You’re in control of your own professional destiny. Going back to school is difficult, especially when you’ve been out of the game for years, but it’s well within your capabilities. Anyway, the payoff is worth the struggle.
If you follow the tips we’ve discussed above and keep your eye on the prize, you’ll find yourself in great shape for the future. Just don’t lose sight of what you’re working for: a better tomorrow for yourself and your family.