5 Ways to Fit College into Your Life

Earning a degree online while working full-time is achievable. Learn how to do it with the support of your family and your employer.

Working professionals who would like to move up in their profession consider advanced education for the skills they need to take their career to the next level.

But the expectations and responsibilities that come with having a job and a family can make it difficult to earn a degree on campus, even as a part-time student. The flexibility of a college degree offered online tends to be a better fit for people with demanding schedules, as seen in two research reports about online education.

A 2016 survey from Learning House and Aslanian Market Research found that 62% of respondents reported work schedule obligations as a reason for choosing online education. A similar study from Ruffalo Noel Levitz cited convenience (96%), flexible pacing (93%) and work schedule (92% importance) as the top three reasons students enrolled in online programs.

Finding a way to fit a college degree into their lives – setting aside time to participate in lectures, reading, communicating with faculty and fellow students, and completing assignments – can appear daunting, but is manageable.

Here are five ways to fit college into your busy life:

  1. Consider your long-term goals. Look at the required coursework and think about where you might be a year or two from now. Are you planning to move or start a family? Think about what you want to achieve; it will serve as a reminder to keep going when times are tough.
  2. Schedule some flexible study times based on what works for you. Do you work better at night, do you prefer to study in the morning before work or get the most done during your lunch break? Schedule study times that work best for you, and be prepared to make adjustments depending on any other demands on your time.
  3. Do some work every day, anywhere. Download online lectures as MP3/MP4 files and listen to them in your car and on your phone or tablet during your lunch hour or while you are waiting at the doctor’s office, at the mechanic or anywhere else. Make a habit of checking your message boards daily on your laptop, phone or other mobile device. Breaking your tasks down into smaller chunks allows you to get your work done without having to spend several hours at once.
  4. Ask for help. Reach out to your professors or fellow students if you have questions or get stuck. Take advantage of any resources available, and don’t waste time or effort because you didn’t want to ask for help.
  5. Get your support team on board. Make sure your family, friends and your boss are on board with your pursuit of a degree. Your family and friends can be a great source of support once they understand the demands of college. Your boss may appreciate applying what you’ve learned in class to a work assignment.
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