Living in the age of the Internet means it’s easier than ever to go back to school. Now, you can take an entire undergraduate or graduate program without having to head to campus and manage a rigorous class schedule on top of your life responsibilities. Online classes are far more flexible, yet you still need a measure of balance if you decide to take on this responsibility. How do you juggle college and family? Even with attending an online school, you will need to practice some work-life balance strategies. Check out these helpful tips.
Communicate with Your Employer
Your employer needs to know that you’re going back to school. If your degree will help you in your current line of work, you may even find that your employer supports the decision and is willing to be flexible with you as you extend your education. Some students, like ACU’s Susie Brown, find it helpful to cut back their hours at work to free up some additional time for their online studies.
Lean on the Support of Family
Work-life balance during online courses requires strong support at home. A spouse and children who understand the importance of your degree can pick up some of the slack around the house, giving you more time for your studies. Sit down with your family and explain why you are pursuing the degree and what it will bring to you, then encourage them to help you achieve your goals.
Balancing life with online classes absolutely requires working efficiently. You must learn how to manage your time while in school, no matter where you take your classes, or it can quickly become your sole focus. Schedule specific times for study and focus entirely on your studies during those times, blocking out other distractions. Find a quiet area of your home or create a distraction for your kids so you can focus during your study periods.
It’s also important not to take on more responsibilities than you can reasonably master in the time you have. If you’re working full time, for example, you may only have time for one or two classes at a time. In general, for every hour of time, you spend in your online class, you will need double that amount of time to study each week. Even if it means taking longer to finish your degree, only take on a reasonable amount of work.
Have Some Social Time
Whether this means time with family or friends, you’ll want to find a social outlet. While you may not have a lot of time to dedicate to this each week or month, all work and no play will cause you to burn out quickly. Even if it’s just one evening per week, give yourself some downtime to relax and be with people you love.
Find Creative Pockets of Time
How do you balance college, work, and family? It’s going to require some creativity. Do you have a lunch break at work? Use it to watch a lecture. Are you an early riser or a night owl? Use the times when your family is sleeping to get some work done with fewer distractions. Are you waiting for an appointment? Read something related to your coursework. Find small pockets of time where you can dedicate to your schoolwork.
Learn to Prioritize
When you’re taking online classes, you may not be able to do everything that you want to do. You will need to learn to prioritize the things that are most important to you, like work, school, and family, and let other areas of life take a back seat for a moment. This may be a season when your house is rarely company-ready, when you have no time for your hobbies, or when you have little time to go out for coffee with friends. Remember, it’s just for a season. Soon, you’ll complete your degree and you will have free time again. By prioritizing, you’ll ensure the most important things in your life get done.
For ACU Online student, Keri Croy, family time was a major priority. While she was doing her online training, she did not have much time for family time, but she prioritized family dinners, which gave them a chance to reconnect each day.
Keep Your Goal in Mind at All Times
There will be times during this journey that are tough. Even the most flexible online degree programs require dedication and study, and you are going to find balancing life and online classes a bit challenging from time to time. When you face challenges, focus on your goals. Why are you pursuing this course of study? What do you hope to gain from it? By keeping your “eye on the prize,” you can give yourself the motivation to push through the difficult times and cross the finish line.
How do you balance college and family? It takes planning, prioritization, and motivation, but it can be done! Are you looking for a flexible online program that works well within the constraints of your busy schedule? Check out ACU Online’s degree programs, and find one that will help you take your career to the next level.