Like many people who choose online schooling to fulfill their educational goals, you likely have a lot more going on in life than just school. You may be one of the many that have 2.5 children under the age of 4, a spouse/partner who works a lot, and a part-time (or even full-time) job on the side to help out. You may not have any kids or a significant other, but you work a demanding 40+ job a week. Perhaps you are a single parent trying to support your children, while improving your job outlook. Whatever your situation may be, it is common for overwhelmed feelings to creep in. The good news is that you are not alone, and there are things you can do to balance both work, life, and school in a healthy way.
1. Write down your goal for your educational pursuits.
When stressful feelings begin to overwhelm, it can be difficult to see the forest through the trees. Our main purpose gets lost and we may become paralyzed. To keep this from happening, write down your overarching goal for completing your education and place this in a prominent place in your study area. Before you begin studying each day, read that goal to yourself.
Sometimes, goals change and that is nothing to be ashamed about! Just write down the new goal and replace your old one with the new one.
2. Get organized.
Get yourself a planner that works for you and make a flexible schedule. Your schedule doesn’t need to be set in stone, but it is important to block out study periods for yourself and coordinate them with your everyday tasks and duties. Career Step’s Study Planner tool can help you to see when you need to have each module completed by in order to meet your completion goal, but it certainly doesn’t take into account your personal life. That is where a good planner, whether it be paper or electronic, becomes crucial. At the beginning of each week, write down your appointments, work schedule, activities, etc. then block in your study periods. Once you have your schedule down, make sure there is a copy of it where your family can see it. Accountability is a huge motivator and your kids/spouse/significant other/roommates/etc. can get involved to help you stay on track.
This is a two-fold tip. First, communicate your study schedule, goals, hopes, and fears with your support system (family, friends, co-workers, whatever your support system looks like). Your support system can help you stay on track by making you be accountable for your time. They don’t have to be drill sergeants breathing down your neck, but if you can get them to ask you how your week went, that can really help! Again, accountability is a really powerful motivator.
Second, never be afraid to ask for help! Career Step has a world-class student support team willing to assist you with any concerns during your program and even beyond. Always speak up for yourself if you don’t understand something or you encounter a problem. They stand ready to help you understand course concepts or provide assistance in overcoming course problems. In your personal and work life, this concept also applies. Never be afraid to ask for help. You’ll never know what is possible if you don’t ask.
4. Find your people.
Online education can feel like a lonely place at times, and you may feel like no one else knows what you are going through—trying to balance everything you have to do. You are never alone! You will have more success if you find a community to support you. Career Step’s Student and Graduate community (http://community.careerstep.com) is robust and provides an excellent medium to interact with other students and graduates who have lived and survived very similar circumstances. Even if they haven’t lived through a similar situation, the diversity will provide you with a great community to broaden your horizons. In my opinion, you won’t find a kinder, more helpful group of individuals anywhere. You can get involved in one of the many study groups, or start a new one. Many lasting friendships and study buddies have developed through this community.
If you live in an area where there is a local college or university, you may be able to find actual adult student support groups where you can meet with other adult students in your area and share stories, triumphs, challenges, and suggestions.
Whatever your life situation is, just remember that with these simple tips it is possible to have your cake and eat it too! You can balance your life and your schooling to create a harmonious path to meet your goals. In the wise words of my 4-year-old nephew, “You can do! You can do!”
Career Step Student Support