I’m one of those people who has opted to study towards a degree after starting my career rather than using one as a kick-starter. For me and my circumstances this choice made perfect sense, however for others, I’ve found they don’t understand why I would choose to do such a thing. It would be right to imagine me fitting my study time during lunch, weekends and late at night whilst making sure I have enough time to relax.
In this blog I’m going to discuss this life choice and how to survive the work / study balance.
First of all, why do people work and study at the same time?
• There are times when you need to work, whether or not you live with your parents, have a family to support or bills to pay. Any time someone has asked why I don’t just quit my job and study full time I am aghast! How would I survive on a student loan? What motivation would I have to get out of bed at a decent hour each day?
• Some people may need to study whilst working so that they can take the next step in their career. Perhaps you’re partially qualified or need appropriate accreditations or found a gap in your knowledge that is holding you back from climbing the ladder.
• It could be a personal goal. Maybe there’s a subject such as Creative Writing or Art that you’ve always been interested in learning more about.
Whatever the reason is, you should do it. However, to gain a balanced life and not fall under pressure, you should make a few considerations…
When I started studying I thought I could continue with the same lifestyle I already had by working full time, having my hobbies and just have a little less ‘down time’. I knew I’d enjoy studying and my hobbies would serve as time to myself… that was a poor idea.
If you want to study and work, they’re the bigguns in your life. Of course you may also have other responsibilities such as taking care of a family for example. However, remember that you need time to catch up on your favourite programmes, clean the car, feed yourself and sleep! Therefore drop some hobbies in the meantime.
Use one diary for absolutely everything! Work events, assignments, lectures, family outings. It’s easy to have an idea of what needs doing but at some point something may very well slip your mind. Or perhaps you could have done with getting ahead on an essay so you could fit all the other things in that week. Know what is happening each week and give yourself some leeway.
The spare minutes
If you commute to work consider how you could use the time effectively. You could catch up on some reading or listen to any set materials. Quite often I’ll read a set book at home and get through any podcasts or videos during lunch or when I’m on the train. Those spare minutes add up!
Clearly you need to be organised to some level when studying, especially when you’re also in employment. I’ve found that the best way for me is to keep a pencil case and notepads at home and another set in my handbag with the bare essentials such as a pen, highlighter and sticky page markers. This means wherever I am I can study without thinking whether I have what I need to do so effectively.
Of course at home I have a bigger selection of equipment and stationery that I use, but at least I can study on the go.
Traditional campus or online courses
This depends on each person. I personally didn’t feel as though I would enjoy attending weekly classes and when I first signed up to my course I couldn’t drive so studying from home worked best for me. Though many other people have told me that they couldn’t motivate themselves or enjoy the atmosphere of attending tutorials and studying with a group of other people.
It’s definitely an important choice. If you can stand to study alone then go for it and if you choose to attend classes after work you can go to the library whilst you wait.
Free time matters
A key thing to remember is that you’re not doing all of this organising and prioritising just that you can work full time, though that is the point of this blog. It’s so that you can keep on top of everything and have as much spare time as possible to avoid burn out or stress. Leaving work just to study each night is unmanageable over a long period of time so do things that keep you going.
Maybe you can exercise, see some friends, catch up on some sleep, all sorts!