Finding a Balance Between Work and School

iStudent Blog

At the beginning of every semester, without fail, I read my class syllabus and feel anxiety. How will I ever get all of the assignments completed? With so much to do, projects and group work, how will I fit it all in between working, sleeping, eating and possibly having some fun?

But every semester has passed without crisis, and my initial worries are merely fleeting emotions that fluster me on those first few days of school. Working full-time while completing my degree wasn’t easy but I wouldn’t change my decision to accommodate both into my busy schedule.

Going to school while working, either part-time or full-time, can feel stressful, but it can be done successfully. In fact, 85% of students at our school work while earning their graduate degree. With their online format, the MLIS and MARA programs allow flexibility for working students. I chose SLIS partly for this flexibility, knowing that I would be working while pursuing my degree. Perhaps that is one of the reasons you chose our school as well.

There are ways to relieve some of the stress that accompanies working while going to school. Here are some tips about creating a balance between work and school.

From the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada: “Be realistic. While there may be high expectations and heavy workloads, you need to decide how much of your life you are willing to devote to this endeavour. Try not to compare yourself to other students – this is your degree after all, so set your own pace and stick to it.”

From ALA-APA: “Create artificial deadlines for school assignments. The creation of deadlines for major projects and papers that precede the true deadline will help you align and balance your school priorities. Plug these fake deadlines into the master calendar and treat them as ‘real’ deadlines. By getting things done ahead of time, you can help alleviate stress, avoid compromising the quality of your work product with rushed work and secure time for your personal and professional lives.”

From Forbes: “You may have to complete research or thesis projects as part of your classwork. Why not try to tie your school project into something you’re already working on at your 9-to-5?”

From the University of Washington: “The professional business skills you have accumulated over the years may aid you in unexpected ways. ‘Giving presentations, writing business cases, triaging work projects, working on teams – that experience [is] directly applicable to class work.’”

Here is my story. Every week I knew I would have two days off work, so I decided that those days would be my school work days. Planning to work solely on school work on specific days allowed my stress level to plummet. When I got home from work at the end of a long day I didn’t usually have to worry about starting on homework. But I planned ahead every week. I made note of when assignments were due and when I needed to work ahead. I also made the decision to take one class per semester which significantly reduced my stress level.

There is no right or wrong way to balance work and school, however, and over time you will find a method that works best for you. I’ll be graduating soon, but I still have time to answer questions you might have about balancing work and school. Feel free to post a comment, and I can respond.