Going back to school is a big commitment. And it can feel overwhelming at times. Below are 6 things that every part-time student can do to help manage the workload and be successful in their program.
- Learn to say “no:” Establish school as a priority and set boundaries. Let your friends and family know that you are in school and that you might not be available for certain events and activities. Ask for their support and understanding. You have made a commitment to your studies, and you are setting a good example for others by following through on your commitment.
- Set a realistic study schedule. As a part-time student, you have a lot on your plate! Work, family, community activities. Make sure you add homework and study time to your schedule. You may have to get creative. How about arriving at work early or staying late to complete your assignments? How about doing your homework while your children are completing theirs? And be consistent. Setting aside the same time on a daily basis is a good way to ensure that you will stick with it. Finding time to study is a challenge in today’s busy lives, but students who do find it is well worth the effort.
- Make the most of every minute. Carry reading materials and other assignments with you when possible, and always be on the lookout for opportunities to do your work. Can you make time on your lunch break, or on the bus or train, or while you are in the waiting room for an appointment? Finding pockets of time to catch up on your assignments will cut down on the time you spend doing it at night or on the weekends and will make it easier to complete your assignments thoroughly and on time.
- Create space to study. Where you study can be as important as what you study. Look for an environment that will help you to stay focused and productive. Consider everything from lighting, to the amount of space that is available to the number of distractions that are present. If you can’t find a suitable space in your home, try your local library or a nearby coffee shop. Experiment and find what is best for you.
- Speak up. If something comes up that is unclear to you, speak up! Make sure you communicate with the instructor and get all of the information that you need to be successful. Your academic advisor, if one is available, is also a good resource for resolving issues and getting you back on track. And remember, the sooner you speak up, the better it will be.
- Be prepared. It is common to feel anxious about returning to school. The more you can prepare for your classes, the better your experience will be. When you receive the course outline, look it over carefully and make sure you understand what is expected of you, and when. When you have an assignment due make sure you know what is covered and how it is to be presented. Finally, avoid procrastination. Don’t put off studying until the last minute. Anticipate when your toughest assignments will be and plan accordingly.
Returning to school is difficult, but not impossible. One you learn to incorporate these 6 habits into your daily routine, you will find the appropriate balance between work, home and school and you will be on your way to greater success.