May 10, 2012

not just 9-5: succeeding as a part-time sudent in a full-time world

I am very excited to share today's guest post, written by Zach Buckley! Zach is a freelance writer who is interested in exploring the intersection of culture, science and education. He lives in the Midwest and enjoys music, literature and good food.

You have graduated with that coveted undergraduate degree and are ready to start your career and 9-to-5 job. Or are you? As you get out there in the “real world,” you may discover a few things you have yet to learn about the work force. 

Once you land a job and begin building your reputation in your industry, you may also find that you actually need more education. Pursuing an education as a part-time student while maintaining your full-time career is not impossible, but it is challenging. Here are some tips that might make it a little more feasible: 

Choose Flexible Education Options. As a full time worker you are not going to be able to take classes the traditional way. That 8:00 a.m. first hour course at your local college campus is going to directly clash with the 8:30 meeting you have with a client. You need flexible education options.

  • One option is to take night courses. This can work well for some students, especially if the campus is near your work location. However, this choice might keep you on a stricter schedule.
  • A better option may be to take online classes. An online master’s degree program will offer much more flexibility than any on-campus program. In some programs, you may not have any set times to meet with fellow students, making your schedule much more accommodating.

Limit Social Activities. Each day only gives you 24 hours, so for the time you are pursuing your degree, you are going to need to limit your social activities.
  • Completely eliminating them will likely cause you to go crazy, so learn to choose wisely. While you may not be able to attend every social event you are invited to, you need to attend a few for your own sanity. 
  • Choose events with your closest friends or ones that provide the most benefit to you.

Plan Meals Carefully. While balancing career goals and educational requirements, you may feel tempted to grab fast food on the fly as you rush between work and school. 

  • Avoid fast food whenever possible. The lack of nutrition will impact your ability to study, and you may blow your budget simply on dining out. Plan your meals ahead and aim for things that are quick, but nutrient packed.
  • For instance, a salad with some grilled chicken on top doesn’t take long to create, yet it will give you nutrition needed to fuel a late-night study session. If possible, plan your meals each weekend so you have something ready to cook quickly. With a plan, you will be less tempted to grab food on the run.

Studying part time for your degree may take a little bit longer than it would for a full-time student, but in the end you will have more of the tools you need to succeed in your career, without taking any time off of work. Stay committed to furthering your education, even though it is challenging, and you may eventually reap the rewards.

Thanks so much for these tips Zach! I look forward to working with you again! ☺

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