10 Tips to Balance Working Full Time and Going to College, The idea that college is a leisurely stroll through four or so years where all students have to worry about is finishing their classes and figuring out what fun things to do on the weekends is quickly changing. Even though that may still be true for some students, the truth is that a large number of college students need to work full-time to pay their bills.
Financial problems can be a big turnoff for people who want to go to college, especially if they have a family to support or a full-time job. When the only thing between you and your dream job is a degree, however, many people find a way to make it happen, no matter what is in their way.
If you don’t want anything to stop you from getting to where you want to be in your career and education, the best thing you can do is learn from people who have been there and done that. So, we talked to a number of professionals who worked full-time while in school to find out what it was like. Check out their tips that you can’t miss.
10 ways to get through college while working full-time
Having a full-time job and going to college at the same time isn’t the best way to spend your time, there’s no way around that. But that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible. We found out from our panel of experts that it is possible to work full-time while getting a degree if you take the right steps to set yourself up for success. So let’s make lemonade out of lemons and look at the 10 tips they’re sure will help you.
1. Create a designated study workspace
One way to make sure you stay productive while you’re in school is to set up a space at home that will help you learn best.
President of the Amslee Institute Elizabeth Malson says, “Learning spaces should be clean and well-organized, with warm paint colors and comfortable seating.” “You must have a desk (or kitchen table) and chair to write and work on a computer in a healthy way.”
Malson also says that adding things like a bulletin board where you can put important dates, inspiring photos, or motivational quotes can help you create a mindful environment that fits your own goals and drives.
2. Prioritize organization
When you have a lot of different jobs, it can be easy to lose track of some of the moving parts because you have so many things to do. Candess Zonon-Mendola, editor of MakeFoodSafe.com, says that this is where being organized is very important. She says, “You need to know where everything is.” “Place things where they go. Every night, charge your laptop and cell phone. Keep your supplies full so you don’t have to stop what you’re doing to get more.
If you’ve never used a planner before, now might be a good time to get one. “Planners are very helpful but not used enough,” says Amanda Raimondi, a lifestyle expert and writer for Grapevine. “This is especially true for people who work full-time and go to school full-time.” “Most planners break up the day by hour, so it’s easy to find time for homework and studying.”
3. Learn to control your time
When you’re trying to work full-time and get a degree at the same time, time is more valuable than ever. “When you decide to go back to college and work at the same time, you’ve chosen ‘the path of greatest resistance,'” says Scott Vail, owner of C4 Communications. “Your time is valuable.”
For students to do well in high-stress situations like these, he tells them to plan how they spend their time. “If you want to be successful in the long run, you have to plan everything, from class time to study time to fun time,” says Vail.
Even if you have a history of putting things off, Zona-Mendola says you should never do that if you also have a full-time job. “Do things right away. Have an entire semester to write a paper? Start writing it as soon as you know enough about the subject, whether that’s the first week or halfway through. Immediately hand it in. “That will make the professor happy,” she says.
4. Leverage your natural tendencies
Malson thinks that one of the best things a student can do for themselves is to really understand their own learning habits and figure out how to use them to their advantage as they work toward a degree.
She gives the example, “If you are a planner, make sure you set aside time blocks to do the program work when it fits your schedule.” “If you are a night owl or a morning person, use the fact that you are most alert at those times to your advantage.” Malson says that planning to study from 9 to 11 at night after a long day of work might work for some, but it won’t help others.
5. Look after yourself
Zona-Mendola worked full-time as a paralegal while getting her Bachelor’s degree and Paralegal degree at the same time. When she was in the middle of it all, it was hard for her to put herself first. “I didn’t sleep for a lot of nights and lived on energy drinks. I also wouldn’t remember to eat,” she says. “Don’t be like me. I overworked myself and got sick a lot.”
Even something as simple as getting a good night’s sleep can help a lot when you have a lot of things to do every day. “You need to sleep, even if you have a million and one things to do,” Raimondi says. “When you sleep, your body fixes itself and prepares you for the next day. When you don’t get enough sleep, it’s hard to concentrate and get things done. She also suggests setting aside even just an hour a day to read a book or watch an episode of one of your favorite Netflix shows to help you relax.
Alayna Pehrson, a content management specialist for Best Company, says, “You might think it’s a waste of time, but taking a break every so often will actually make you better at your daily tasks.” “As you work and go to school, you will live and think in a healthier way. If you don’t take this time, you risk getting burned out and too tired.
6. Communicate, communicate, communicate
Communication skills seem to be at the top of almost every list of tips for success in any field. But if you want to go to college and work full-time, you really need to talk to people. “It can help to have an open line of communication with your bosses and professors,” says Pehrson. “Make sure that you, your teachers, and your bosses are all on the same page. Most of the time, they will want to help you if you feel like you have too much to do.
If you learn how to talk to people well, it will only help you in the long run. “Your communication skills will pay off when you work and go to school,” says Vail, pointing out how important it is to talk to not only your bosses and professors, but also your family and close friends, whose interactions with you will be affected by your busy schedule.
7. Don’t be shy about asking for help
Masudi Stolard is a consultant, speaker, and author. The first time he went to college to get a degree, it took him 16 years and three different schools to finish. He was able to get his MBA in just two years after he changed the way he thought, refocused his goals, and learned how to study well.
When he was having trouble in school, he learned to ask for help, which was one of the most important changes he made. “I can’t tell you how many times I had to swallow my pride and ego and ask for help from a tutor or a study lab,” says Stolard.
College students can get a lot out of tutoring services. Stolard was able to understand what his professors were teaching in class better with the help of tutors. He even learned a few shortcuts that he wouldn’t have known about if he hadn’t asked for help.
8. Have faith in your skills
Stolard also thinks that always choosing to believe in yourself is important to a successful college experience while working full-time. He says that you are more likely to burn out if you doubt your skills.
Stolard says, “Trust yourself enough to think you can work and go to school at the same time.” “I trust that you know that both are important. Believe that the choice you made to move forward with both jobs was the right one.” He also says that telling your family and close friends about the good things that will happen after you graduate can help them give you extra support along the way.
9. Enjoy your small wins
Even though you should be thinking about the big doors your degree could open for you professionally, don’t forget to celebrate all of your small wins along the way. “Getting a degree can be a huge (and time-consuming) accomplishment. “Stop focusing on big wins, like finishing a whole semester, and start stringing together small wins, like getting an A on a test,” Vail says.
“Be happy that you turned in your paper on time. “Celebrate getting through a hard week or month,” he says, explaining that if we set the bar for success too high, we are more likely to give up when things get hard.
10. Don’t lose sight of your long-term goals
“This, too, will end,” says Zona-Mendola, referring to the all-too-common urge to throw in the towel when a stressful part of your life seems like it will never end.
“Remember that this way of life isn’t forever when you feel like giving up or giving in,” she says. When she thinks back on the long few years she spent in college while working full-time, she remembers how tired she was and how much she had to give up. But what she remembers most is how hard she worked to reach a goal that was very important to her own success.
Zona-Mendola says to push through the hard times now so you can get the many benefits that are coming.
Can you work full-time and go to college at the same time?
Many people find it hard to believe that they could work full-time and put so much effort into getting a degree at the same time. It won’t be easy, but people who want to move up in their careers through higher education may have to do it.
Listen to the advice of the many successful people who have been in your shoes before you as you prepare to become a working student. It may be easier than you thought to find the right balance if you do.
As you move toward enrolling in a degree program, you’ll want to make sure you choose a program that fits your needs and your busy schedule. First, figure out what kind of program you want. This will help you narrow down your choices.