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Balancing Work and an Online Education

So you've made the decision to go back to school, and, like thousands, you've opted to obtain a degree online. Most make this choice because of the flexibility online coursework offers-you can do the work on your own time, without the hassles of rigid class scheduling. But when it comes down to it, your online education will still take up precious time-time few of us feel we have a lot of anymore. So how do you balance your education with your "real life"? Here are a few pointers:

Let your boss know about your online education
When your boss wants you to work late, it's hard to say no. But if you tell your boss about what you're doing from the start, she or he is much more likely to take that into consideration the next time you're slapped with a huge task. Especially if your online education will eventually benefit the company you're working for, your boss should encourage your coursework and appreciate the job you're doing. Additionally, discussing your online education with your superiors can give you valuable insight into the value of your courses. When your co-workers understand how important your education is, they're much more likely to be supportive of your decision.

Include your family in discussions about what you're learning
It's not just paid work that can get in the way of your education. If you have a family, you know that it can take up just as much time. But all of your jobs will be made easier if the kids know that Mom or Dad has to go to school just like them. Talk with them about what you're learning, and they'll better understand how important this is to you and that you need time alone to do it.

Set aside a specific time (and place!) to study
If you wait until you feel like you have time to study or do your coursework, you'll never actually do it. Schedule a time and stick to it-regardless of what seems to stand in your way. Studying in a separate room (or a separate building altogether) can make you concentrate more on what's in front of you and less on what's going on in other areas of your life.

Acknowledge that your online education is a choice you've made for yourself
Whenever you feel like your education is becoming a burden, remember: You decided to do this to improve your life. When someone is trying to infringe on your study time, stand up for yourself! You want this.

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