Balancing Work and Life with a Return to School

Returning to school to complete your bachelor's degree is a wonderful and exciting decision,but it can also challenge your time management skills as you strive to balance work, life, and school. Here are a few practical suggestions on making the most of this important time:

Communicate to friends and family members

Life gets busy when you decide to go back to school! You'll want and need a supportive network providing encouragement when your ability to socialize changes because of class demands. Your personal financial situation may also change while you're in school, and it's helpful to have those around you understand that you may have less money to spend for social events and vacations.

Schedule, schedule, schedule
It is essential that you allocate a portion of every day to work on your course readings, assignments, and projects. If home is too distracting, remove yourself and do your work at the library or visit your favorite coffee shop after work or class. Make this a habit that you rarely break!

Set up a daily routine
This is especially important if you have young children at home while going back to school. While you need to plan enough time for activities and school, try to establish set times for homework and studying when everyone in the family can come to together to work on school assignments or reading.

Communicate with the boss
Rule #1 when going back to school as a working adult is to keep your schoolwork separate from your job. However, it's important to let you boss and co-workers know that you are going back to school and what your schedule is. Also, don't be afraid to ask if your employer will help pay for part of your education - if you're getting your degree in a field that is compatible with the work you do, they may want to!

Stay present
When you're going back to school, working, and managing family and life concerns, it's easy to become distracted with thoughts of the future and the multiple deadlines that are ahead. For example, if you're enjoying some weekend fun time with the kids, don't spoil it by worrying about an upcoming exam - that evening, when everyone has settled down for the night, take out your notes and books and review.

Need help? Ask for it!
Nervous about writing your first big paper? Uncertain about key concepts in a class? Take advantage of your college's student learning centers or ask your advisor or professors for help. Form a study group with your classmates and help one another succeed.

And remember...
Going back to school to finish a college degree sends a powerful message to your children, siblings, family members, and friends. By showing that you value education, and stick with it through good and bad times, you help them take a greater interest in their education as well. Make the decision to finish your degree not only for yourself but for your family and community as well.

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