Trying to juggle working and taking Online Courses can be hard. You need to be productive at work while still having the mental energy to go to online class, study, prepare for exams, and write papers.
It’s challenging to be in a full-time job and also taking online classes, but it can be done
However, taking online classes can make time management easier. However, every student will still face the same challenges when it comes to managing classes and work.
To help, here are seven tips to help you balance online classes while working full time.
1. Communication Is Key
The most important thing you can do to balance online classes with your full-time job is to communicate—with your employer, with your friends, with your support network, and with yourself.
First, talk to your employer. Tell them that you are enrolling in an online degree program and may need to take off or work odd hours from time-to-time for exams or studying. Many workplaces are surprisingly flexible. They may even appreciate that you’re taking the time to earn your next degree. After all, it makes you a more valuable employee in the long run.
Tips for Communicating Effectively With Your Boss
1) Before you speak to your boss, write down all the topics you want to discuss and what you hope to communicate.
2) Make sure you’re clear about what you want or need from your boss.
3) In private, rehearse what you want to say to your boss.
4) When speaking to your boss, use qualifying words, such as “perhaps” and “maybe,” rather than absolute words, such as “always,” “every,” “all the time” and “never.” Speaking in absolutes can raise a person’s defenses and cause resistance.
5) Make “I” statements, such as “I need guidance,” instead of “you” statements, such as “You haven’t given me guidance.”
6) Avoid going to your boss when you’re emotional. Give yourself a cooling-off period to collect your thoughts and composure.
7) If at all possible, talk to your boss before issues become heated and you become emotionally involved.
8) Be an active listener. Learn to really listen and understand what your boss says. If you missed or weren’t clear about a point, ask your boss to repeat or clarify it.
9) Try to repeat and rephrase the points your boss makes during a conversation to show that you’re listening and understanding him or her.
10) Practice good body language. Look at your boss, lean into the conversation and avoid fidgeting.
11) Be assertive, not aggressive.
12) Keep an open mind and be open to compromise.
13) Avoid gossiping or spreading rumors to your boss.
14) Have a positive attitude.
15) Be sure to give your boss praise and recognition when it’s due.
16) Communicate regularly with your boss to develop and maintain a comfortable relationship.
You should also communicate with your friends and support network. Let them know what you are doing, that you may be too busy to spend time with them sometimes, and that you may need extra support. They will be happy to help you out and will be understanding of your high stress and limited availability.
Ask your family and friends to give you plenty of notice for social events and to be understanding when you are unavailable. Tell your boss about your studies and let them know when you’ll be unavailable for extra shifts or overtime. And keep them all informed of your progress, so they can share in the high fives!
And most importantly, communicate with yourself. Balancing work and college can get intense, make sure you check in with yourself and acknowledge how you’re doing. You’ll be the most successful if you recognize the importance of self-care.
2. Focus On Your Goal
When you are working and taking Online Courses, take some time to write down why you are doing it. What are your goals and how does this degree help you achieve them? Write them down and pin the note to your wall or save it somewhere special.
When you’re in the middle of a heavy semester and you’ve got a lot of to do at work, you might get bogged down by the stress. You may think, “why am I doing this to myself?”
That’s when it’s helpful to look at your goals and remind yourself why you are doing this. Whether it’s for a promotion, a career change, or a master’s degree you always promised yourself you’d earn—keeping your end goal in mind can help you deal with the stress of balancing work and online classes.
3. Set A Strict Schedule
At the beginning of each semester, your professors will send out a syllabus with important exam dates and deadlines. Read it the very day they send it out, then mark up your calendar! Write down the dates and set reminders for when you should start studying. Then make sure this schedule fits around your work responsibilities and deadlines.
Making a schedule and forcing yourself to stick to it is key. This will require self-discipline, but if you can stick to a timetable, you’ll find yourself less stressed out in the long run and more prepared for unexpected roadblocks along the way.
4. Maximize Your Downtime
When you are working and taking Online Courses, one of the toughest things to do when balancing work and college classes is to find time to study. Between working 40 hours a week and taking three or four classes, you don’t have time to spend 4 hours in the library 5 days a week.
Instead, you can maximize your downtime. If you commute on public transportation, study during your commute. Do you get a one-hour lunch break at work? Can you say “study time”!
Even carrying flashcards with you and studying during several five-minute intervals throughout your day can help you slowly chip away at your course material. Figure out where you can squeeze in some extra studying. This will help you balance your online courses with your life in the long run.
5. Optimize Your Vacation Time
When you are working and taking online classes, its important to consider using your vacation time as a chance to prepare for a big exam or important paper. Your online degree is most likely only going to take a year or two to complete. Utilizing your vacation can give you the headspace you need to complete important assignments. It may also help you stay sane and improve your GPA.
If your employer is flexible, you can take your PTO or time off before big tests or projects to help you clear your mind and fit in enough studying to be truly prepared.
6. Be Present
Balancing working and online classes can be hectic. In the middle of a busy semester, it’s easy to find yourself stressing about your exam while you’re at work or thinking about work while you are supposed to be studying. Or worse, scrolling through Facebook when you’re supposed to be watching your lecture.
Finding balance will be easier if you make the effort to be present. When you take time to study, really sit down and focus on studying. Don’t think about work and don’t look at social media.
The same thing goes for work—don’t think about your classes when you are at work. Your work performance will be better if you stay present and focused on the task at hand.
Stay present, stay focused, and the balance will become easier.
7. Remember to Relax
Working and taking Online Coursesis important, but so is taking care of yourself. Nobody can operate at 100% all of the time. In order to have the energy you need to balance your work and your studies, you need to take some time to relax.
Pencil in rest days into your schedule. Make time for yourself. Be strict with yourself about actually taking time to relax, spend time with friends and family, or participate in a yoga class. Be present while you are relaxing, so that you can head back to work and to your studies recharged.
8. Choose a course that fits into your life
What higher institution should I go to? What career should I choose? What degree should I get that I’ll be happy with years from now? These are questions almost every young person will have to answer at a critical stage of their life. You want to choose a field of study that your future self will thank you for. It is easy to take an online course that you enjoy.
9. Eliminate Distractions When Studying
Online learning requires self-discipline. Although it might be tempting to check your work emails or scroll through your social media notifications, eliminate all distractions once you start studying. You won’t get through your coursework if you’re using the time you’ve set aside to surf the web.
10. Make Online Learning a Habit
Once you know when you learn best, make it a habit. Set aside time every day or week to work on assignments, respond to peer comments, or finish required reading. Whether you dedicate an entire Sunday to completing coursework or chip away at it daily, establishing a routine will make it easier to balance learning with working full-time.
Online learning habits of successful students
- Schedule learning time. Online classes offer a great deal of flexibility, but they require at least as much time as regular classes. A normal three semester credit-hour class will require 2100 minutes of classroom time. That is 35 hours of actual in-class time. For each hour of in-class time, students should spend two hours in preparation (reading, studying) and completion of assignments. That is a total of 105 hours of work (35 plus 70) for one class. In an on-campus class this is spread out over 11 or more weeks, so it amounts to approximately 8-10 hours a week for each class taken. Full-time students will take three or four classes at a time making their school load 30 to 40 hours a week. (This is why it is called full-time.) Online classes only last six weeks. This means that a student is going to spend 15-20 hours a week involved in one class. If students take two classes at a time, this is going to amount to 30-40 hours of study time per week.
- Meet the attendance requirement. Many online courses have attendance policies requiring stuents to connect and submit a meaningful or substantive note at least five days of each week. This attendance requirement reflect the importance that participation and involvement have in the online classes. Sometimes schedules get crazy and it may become impossible to spend a lot of time in class work on a specific day. Still, you must take at least a few minutes to connect and send a response note. This can be done in 10 minutes or less. The fastest way to see your grade deteriorate is to miss this attendance requirement.
- Keep up. Online classes are usually only about six weeks long. So they are considered to be intensive. In an intensive class, it is critical that students not fall behind. Turn your assignments in on time. Read ahead. The most important advice an online student can get is: Don’t get behind. If for some reason you get behind on an assignment, it is better to get the next assignment in on time, rather than playing catch-up on assignment after assignment. When you have a little extra time and are all caught up, go back and pick-up the assignment you missed.
- Solve problems right away. If you are having any problems, let professors know immediately. They will work with you and give you guidance. The worst thing you can do is to stop participating, and not let anyone know why.
Learning to Balance Work and Online Courses Is Possible
There’s no way around it—balancing work and online college classes is a challenge. Still, it’s possible to successfully earn your degree while still working.If you stick to a schedule and utilize these tips, you’ll be able to earn your next degree without sacrificing your professional life.
Managing your daily responsibilities at work while trying to take an online course presents a unique challenge. With the proper time management, support, and outlook, you can effectively balance both while achieving your personal and professional goals.
If you still have a problem balancing work and online classes, we can assist you. Contact us here