Balancing Work, School, and Life

Balancing school, family, and a job is a real challenge for adults returning to college, but it can be done. The following guidelines can help you find the balance you need to be successful in all areas of your life as you return to college.

Create a degree plan.

Having a concrete plan that outlines everything you need to do to complete your degree in your timeframe is invaluable. Your academic adviser can help you create a degree plan that specifies all the classes you need to take and when you need to take them so that you can graduate on time and on budget.

Develop your academic and computer skills.

Do yourself a favor and give yourself the best chance to succeed before you even get started. Use your campus’ tutorial center if you need to brush up in a subject, or perhaps consider a refresher course in subjects you’re not strong in. Make sure that you have the basic computer skills necessary to complete your coursework.

Work with your family and include your kids.

Your family is an indispensible part of your support system. Schedule study time around family activities when you can, and consider setting aside time for your family before you begin your studies. Let your family know that you will need quiet time to study and do your assignments. Schedule time to work on classwork and honor that schedule.

Find a community.

You’ll have more success if you find a community to support you. Other adults on campus are also juggling family, work, and school. Many campuses even have adult student support groups. Talk with other adult students and share stories of challenges and triumphs.

Ask for help.

Always speak up for yourself and talk to your professors, adviser, or other campus support staff if you are encountering any kind of problem. These people want to help you succeed.

Stay organized.

Make a schedule and try to stick to it. Know when your assignments are due and make a plan for completing them. If you know that you have family or work responsibilities that may get in the way, make sure that you take them into account and schedule around them.

Create a dedicated study area.

A quiet place to study and keep your materials in one place is important. Not only will it help you focus, it will also help your family and kids recognize that when you are in your study space you are less available.