4 tips for balancing an education and a full-time job
**The Edvocate is pleased to publish guest posts as way to fuel important conversations surrounding P-20 education in America. The opinions contained within guest posts are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of The Edvocate or Dr. Matthew Lynch.**
A guest column by Brooke Chaplan
According to a 2011 survey, 71% of college undergraduates retained a job while they focused on their degree. Of these, 2 out of 5 worked at least 20 hours a week, and 1 in 5 managed at least 35 hours.
Of course, these statistics don’t accurately portray the difficulty for maintaining both a career and education. Between the two, you have to spend time hitting the books and the showers, reading the latest essays and taking in your boss’ memos and emails.
At times, you may feel as though you never have time to eat or sleep, let alone socialize with friends and family. So what can you do meet all of your obligations, despite your busy schedule?
Save Time through Online Courses
While pursuing a degree often requires you spend at least a few hours in the classroom, many degrees allow you to take online courses at your convenience. With an online course, you can still acquire your necessary credits to graduate, but can do so in the early morning before your shift, or in the few minutes you have on your lunch break. There are also full-time options available like the New England College masters of public policy online, and criminal justice degrees from other institutions.
Apply for Financial Aid
You likely spend a lot of your time simply earning enough money for food and groceries. Any extra funds you have then go toward textbooks and tuition. But what if you could cut some of your tuition costs? Plenty of financial aid programs will cover the cost of your schooling, so you can spend more time reading textbooks than working to buy textbooks. If you need help paying for college, fill out a FAFSA application or talk to your school’s financial aid counselor for additional resources.
Cook Your Meals All at Once
When you have to get up early to drive to campus, and then drive across town to make it to your afternoon shift, you might not have a lot of time to cook your own meals. But don’t spend your hard-earned money on fast food! If you prepare all your meals at once, you can save money on meals and still enjoy healthy fruits and vegetables.
To start, wash and cut fruits and vegetables as soon as you come home from the grocery store. Separate your key ingredients into easy-to-grab bags that you can pop in the oven, or dump in the slow cooker after school or work. Make each meal large enough that you can use the leftovers for your lunch the following day or freeze them for quick heat ups during the week.
Don’t Procrastinate Your Assignments
When you find a gap in your schedule, you may want to use those few extra minutes to take a nap or play some video games, but don’t get too comfortable just yet! Any extra time you have should go toward finishing assignments early. Have an essay due in a month? Start gathering research. Don’t have to write that report until next week? Jot down a rough draft anyway. By working on your assignments long in advance, you give yourself an extra cushion of time should your work schedule shift and you have to take extra hours.
With these four tips and tricks, you’ll have an easier time juggling your education and your job without the hassle or added fuss.
Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most her time hiking, biking and gardening.