Many people who participate in an online degree program aren’t full-time students. They’re trying to balance the demands of getting an education with the responsibilities of work or even a family. But don’t be discouraged at the prospect of having to juggle school and work, whether it’s something you need to do for your own financial gain or it’s a requirement of your specific online degree program. It’s possible to find harmony between a full-time job and an online degree program with a few simple tips.
First, set a schedule. The convenience of getting a degree at home doesn’t mean it’s not a challenging, engaging process. Just as your day job likely follows a set plan for the number of hours you work per week, so too should your online schooling hold to a fairly stable schedule. You can log on and complete classwork at hours that would be considered irregular compared with a traditional university, but it’s still important to respect the work. Treat it like a job of its own. It’ll be easier to get the work done if it feels like a regular, planned undertaking. Plus, it won’t interfere with your regular job, allowing you to continue earning money while studying.
Second, go the other way: see what parts of your work schedule are the most flexible and able to be scaled back to allow for online classes. While some jobs won’t be able to be reduced, certain service professions by their nature allow employees to have a say in dictating their work hours for a given week. This may seem a little counterintuitive compared with the first tip, but they both have the same goal. Ultimately, you should never have to make a choice between work or school, but be allowed to move commitments around on both ends to have your needs met.
Third, be open with your employer. A boss has a right to know if you plan on pursuing an online degree while working, and will often work with you to help find a manageable work load. Additionally, many companies offer tuition reimbursement plans to help you obtain your degree while working for them. It’s possible that you might look at changing jobs before pursuing an online degree in order to take advantage of a plan like this.
Finally, know what you’re capable of doing. An online degree program is a sturdy undertaking, and if you need to work full- or part-time while being enrolled, it’s wise to start with a lighter class load until you’re more sure of how much study you can handle while still meeting your obligations to an employer. Getting overloaded too soon might discourage you from completing an online degree program that will pay off in the long run.
Ultimately, it’s possible to hold a job while getting a degree online. It just takes some smart planning.