How To Balance Studying And Work

How To Balance Studying And Work

Whether it’s getting another business qualification or taking a degree course, more and more people are studying while they hold down a job.

It’s like walking a tightrope, so we have some tips to help you to handle both to the best of your abilities.  Hopefully you won’t need a safety net.

See if the business will help you

Try not to think about your education as making you step away from work, but instead as bringing value to your employer.  Approach your boss or line manager and see if they can make allowances for your studies with flexi-time or giving you authority you to delegate tasks and projects.  Whether your course is directly relevant to the business or not, going back into education is a refresher in planning and thinking – both of which are good for any business.  You might even make some new business-friendly contacts along the way.

Work at the office, learn from home?

More and more universities and colleges are offering entirely online courses, or allowing students to submit work over the Internet.  This could save you time and money, since you won’t have to spend either commuting to classes.   However, bear in mind that part of the ‘student experience’ is socialising with new people and having help and support from others doing the same subject, so a 100% online course might be good financially, but less rewarding emotionally.

Burn the candle at one end

You’re not 19 any more (I’m certainly not).  While you might feel you need to stay up late in order to get your coursework done once in a while, don’t make it a habit, in case you end up yawning at your desk during the day, or nodding off in class in the evening.   Remember that universities and colleges understand that mature students have serious commitments and will want to help you work out your schedule.  If you ever feel overwhelmed with coursework, speak to your supervisor.

Plan ahead for the pressure points

Let your employers know the key periods when you will need more time for your studies. Obvious dates are exam times, but also when coursework deadlines come up.  Maybe they could allow you to do fewer hours (and if they are good give you more in the holidays). Also tell friends and family, so that they do not expect too much of you – and that you could ask them for help.

Think quality rather than quantity

After a tiring day at work it’s difficult to settle down to hours of reading. Instead tell yourself you will study in bursts. Choose a shorter paper to read or work on the first few paragraphs of an essay.  The cliché of quality time does hold true – you will study with more concentration and feel you have achieved something. Accept that you will have to find time for the other tasks on another day.

Check for childcare

If you have small children, you may be able to get help with childcare from the college.  They might have their own nursery and crèche, or have connections with private ones. It may mean putting your name on a waiting list, so do your groundwork as soon as you can. You should also see if childcare grants are available to help handle the cost.

Keep a diary

It is always useful to keep a record of your study routine, along with notes about your work.  This will help you to identify how you are spending your time, how long it takes you complete your coursework tasks as well as possible downtime at work. Do some financial planning too, so make a note of when you expect to be paid and what expenses are coming up. You’ll feel you have a better grip on both your work and your study.

Update your CV as you go along

Start a new CV when you start your course.  Keep it updated with new skills you’ve learned and projects you’ve completed.    When you finish your studies, you can look back and see everything you’ve achieved and be ready to look for new roles if you wish.

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