Balancing Career and School (Academic Tips)

Working full-time and taking a full course load can feel overwhelming. It makes you wonder how you will get everything done without neglecting either your career or your schoolwork?

While continuing your career as you work full time isn’t easy, it also isn’t impossible. It doesn’t have to cause ulcers or sleepless nights. At Grantham University, our goal is to help you achieve your goals, even the difficult ones. If you’re taking a full course load and working full time, here are some tips that will help you stay on top of your educational, professional and personal goals.

  1. Become a master of your time.

When you take on two major tasks like working full time and taking a full course load, you need next-level time management skills. Get some help. Get a good planner—either digital or online—and use it. Schedule everything from assignments to work projects to time off to relax. If you’re not good at time management, use these free useful tools to learn how to manage your time better.

  1. Work to your strengths.

Create a schedule that works for you. You know when you’re most productive—plan to work on your academics and your job during those hours. It might mean getting up an hour early, going to bed an hour later or using your lunch hour to get some schoolwork done. But when you focus on school and work tasks during those most productive hours, you work more quickly and produce better quality materials.

  1. Prioritize your health.

The fastest way to get behind at both school and work is to get sick. No matter how busy things are at work or how many assignments you have due at school, make time to exercise and eat well. Prep your meals in advance so you have healthy food available and aren’t always getting take-out or fast food. Be sure to care for your mental health, as well. Include time for relaxation to refresh your mind as well as your body.

  1. Keep your eye on the prize.

Your education—whether you’re completing a certificate or finishing a degree—is a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t try to do everything at once. Plan out your assignments across the semester and fit them in around your work obligations. Write down the benefits that will come your way when you finish school. Pull out that list when you feel overwhelmed or discouraged.

Want more inspiration? Check out these stories from Grantham grads to give you some encouragement that you can do it. That you will do it.

  1. Communication is king.

There will, inevitably, be conflicts between work and school. Most employers and professors are willing to work with you to sort out those conflicts when they know your situation. Keeping the lines of communication open will help everyone. Be open and honest with both your boss and your professor about any issues that arise during the semester. Give them the opportunity to help you figure out how to make it all work.

  1. Create a class schedule that works for you.

Before signing up for classes, investigate the classes you want to take. Try to find people who have already finished the class and ask them about the workload. Don’t load up your schedule with all the hardest classes in your degree in the same semester. Figure out what the requirements of each class will be and try to spread out the ones that will be most challenging for you.

  1. Minimize distractions.

There’s no getting around it: To accomplish everything you need to do when working full time and taking a full schedule of classes, you’ll have to set some things in your life aside. Put rules in place that protect your time for work on the job and work for school. Banish your phone—don’t answer calls or texts when you’re studying. Set hours when family members need to leave you alone so you can get your assignments done. Designate a study space in your home, a spot where everyone understands that once you’re in that space, you’re completely focused on studying.

Need some help minimizing distractions? Check out this article from LifeHack to find some tips that work. With fewer distractions, the work will get done more quickly, freeing up time to do other things.

  1. Create a support network.

Going to school full time and working full time is a big task. You make it easier when you don’t try to do it alone. Form a group of people who are there to support you. This group can include friends, family, tutors and professors. These are the people who you can ask for help with something you don’t understand, who will encourage you when you’re down, and who will help you relax when you need it. Trying to reach your goals alone can lead to burnout, so surround yourself with people who can help.

At Grantham, we want to help you overcome the obstacles to learning, the obstacles that stand in the way of the future you want to create. With the right support and good time management skills, you can achieve your goals at both school and work.

About The Author

Shauna Lawrence has been with Grantham for over a year. As Grantham’s social media strategist Shauna has a passion for connecting with others and building a positive community for all students. Shauna holds a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Economics and Marketing from Kansas State University and is currently working on her MBA at Grantham University.