It may not be easy, but many are doing it, balancing school, work and family. It’s a difficult task and those who do it will tell you they sometimes feel as though they are being pulled in three directions at the same time. If you are already struggling to achieve balance, or are considering adding a school to your already busy life, there are things you can do to not only survive but thrive in managing these demands.
Below is a collection of gathered advice from students who are “doing it all” and these tips can help you manage your busy life and find balance:
* Have your goal from the beginning. Navigating through the tough times — and they will come — is a matter of motivation. For starters, decide what are you going to school for. If your answer is simply because you feel you should, it will be tough to stick with it. Instead, focus on your goals. Maybe you want to buy a permanent home for your family, to grow your career or find a job that will help you pay for your child’s college. Eboni Weekes, a Strayer University student, vowed to provide a better life for her daughter, so she knew she needed a Bachelor’s in Business Administration to further her career. Whatever your motivation, keep it front and center so you can call on it when the tough times come.
* Explore your options. All of your options. Education models aren’t one-size-fits-all. There may be certain programs designed specifically for your lifestyle — you may not be aware of them. For some, flexibility may be a key factor, while for others — and, in fact, for most — cost is the biggest factor in selecting a program. Strayer University, for example, caters to working adults, keeping in mind the financial difficulties of managing work, family, and school. The Strayer Graduation Fund allows bachelor’s degree students to earn a course at no cost for every three classes they complete. This effectively reduces your college tuition expenses by as much as 25 percent if you stay actively enrolled. “The Strayer Graduation Fund has shown me that there are other alternative funds available for me to acquire my degree,” said Eboni. “I don’t have to depend on loans.”
* Develop your support system. When balancing school, work and family, it’s important to realize you don’t have to go it alone. Students who juggle multiple demands recommend asking for help from grandparents, friends, and neighbors. An evening babysitter can free you up to study and get your school work done quickly. Childcare can get expensive, so consider a no-cost childcare swap with a friend or neighbor. Ask if they can take care of your child on nights when you have class and in return, you can take care of their kids on other nights.
* Get organized. When you have little to no spare time, you can’t afford to waste it. Planning your daily and weekly activities through a resource like Google Calendar can help you stay on top of all your obligations and identify pockets of free time that you can spend studying or simply running errands.
* Don’t forget about you. Many busy students say that with all of the competing demands on their time, it’s easy to forget about themselves. In your role as an employee, parent, and student, it’s easy to forget that you need some “me time” to prevent burnout. Protect your sleep at all costs and don’t be afraid to schedule end-of-semester rewards for yourself. A massage, a nice meal out with family, a trip to the movies or even a round of golf can be just the thing you need to energize your spirit so that you can devote even more attention and passion to your schoolwork, your job and, of course, your family.
Finding a balance between your home, work and school lives can be one of the most challenging tasks for adult students. But, as many can attest, it is possible. Apply the tips above and stick with it. The rewards will indeed be worth your efforts.