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Top Tips for Balancing Working Full Time and Going to School
It’s no secret that going back to school while working full time is a big undertaking. Most working professionals are already balancing work, family and personal commitments. Adding school into the mix can seem overwhelming.
However, with the right preparation and planning, going back to school is more attainable than you may think. We’re here to help you understand the commitment of going to school while working full time, as well as the rewards of pursuing your degree.
What Should I Expect When Going Back to School While Working Full Time?
Navigating the unknown may be the most intimidating part of going back to school as a working professional. But don’t let that stop you from achieving your goals.
Doing your research into the realities of going back to school can provide confidence that you’re making the right choice. It starts with clearing up misconceptions about the learning experience as a full time professional.
Separating Fact from Fiction: Going to School Online as a Working Professional
There are many reasons why full-time working professionals question their ability to successfully go back to school. We want to help clear up common myths about working full time and going to school.
Myth: “I’m too old to go back to school.”
“No one is too old to go back to school,” says Dr. Ross, “I’ve had students of all ages—from traditional age students to ones in their 60s. At Franklin, our average student age is 34, so if you’re a working professional you’ll be in good company. I actually think many students are better prepared to be a student after gaining real-world work experience.”
Myth: “I’ve been out of school too long to go back.”
“I believe that if you really apply yourself, anyone can succeed in a college class,” says Dr. Ross, “At the same time, we realize it can be an adjustment going back to school. At Franklin, our undergraduate students take a learning strategies course to help them prepare to be a student again.”
Myth: “I will feel isolated going to school online.”
“Online education has come a long way,” says Dr. Ross, “The whole myth of never seeing or interacting with a professor is not true anymore. At Franklin, many of our classes have meet sessions where you also collaborate with other students. We believe in 360-degree learning, which means classroom experiences are amplified by the real-life experiences of both instructors and other working professionals.”
Myth: “Going back to school is too expensive to really pay off.”
“You have to look at the long-term value of a degree,” says Dr. Ross, “Over the course of a 40 or 50 year career, the salary difference between having a degree and not having one really adds up. Plus, with online school, you can continue to work full time and maintain your income, which significantly reduces the opportunity cost of your education.”
Myth: “It’s just not a good time to go back to school.”
“There’s never a perfect time to go back to school,” says Dr. Ross, “It’s about making the commitment. Prepare yourself and get buy in from your support system, then take the leap. In a couple of years, you can either have the degree you’ve always wanted or still be waiting.”
What matters most when choosing a master’s program? Compare features, benefits and cost to find the right school for you.
Is It Worth It to Go to School While Working Full Time?
Going back to school is an investment of time, money and energy. It will inevitably shift your priorities and require hard work and dedication to stay on track.
So is it worth it? Absolutely.
“In today’s world, a bachelor’s degree is almost mandatory,” says Dr. Ross, “It’s considered an entry-level credential. For many advanced positions a master’s degree is the new normal. Working full time and going to school provides so many benefits—from tangible things like salary increases to less quantifiable aspects like personal growth and achievement. The knowledge, skills and confidence you will gain are worth every ounce of energy you put in.”
Here are 4 more reasons it’s worth going back to school while working full time:
- You’ll be able to apply new concepts you learn immediately to your everyday work.
- You may be eligible for tuition assistance or tuition discounts from your employer or their partner institutions.
- You can benefit from more professional freedom post-graduation—whether that means a new career path or additional employment opportunities.
- You can set a positive example for your family, showing how hard work truly pays off.
5 Tips For Going to School as a Working Professional
If you think you’re ready to take the next step toward getting your degree, here’s how you can set yourself up for success.
- Treat going back to school like a job. You need to take your education just as seriously as your career. Know that you will need to dedicate at least 12–15 hours a week to your studies. If you go to school online, expect the quality of instruction to be just as high as an in-person class—meaning it will be just as much work.
- Schedule your time in advance. Be realistic about your other commitments. If you have children, factor in sports practice or recitals. If you know you have a heavy season at work, take that into account. By planning in advance, it’s easier to set aside dedicated time for your school work.
- Minimize distractions. If you go to school online, you won’t have a traditional classroom to help keep your attention. While other priorities will inevitably pop up or need your attention, do your best to create an environment that removes as many distractions as possible. One easy way to manage interruptions is to create a designated workspace where you can close the door and focus on your coursework.
- Make sure you have a support system. Going back to school and working full time is a team effort. If you have s family, make sure they’re on board and ready to help take things off your plate. Let your boss know you’re balancing work and school so you can set expectations for doing both. Find friends and classmates who can hold you accountable and help you manage stress.
- Give yourself some grace. You’re doing an incredible and challenging thing going back to school. You won’t be perfect. But know, in the end, it will all be worth it.
Find the Right Online School to Balance Your Priorities and Empower Success
When you’re considering going back to school, it’s extremely important to choose the right school and program. Many colleges aren’t built for the needs of full-time working adults. The best online colleges for working adults will provide the flexibility and support you need to balance your job and your education.
“At Franklin, our instructors know that most of our students are also working full time,” says Dr. Ross, “That mindset makes a huge difference. It makes us more flexible and accommodating as a university. The best aspect of attending Franklin while working full time is our balanced learning approach. We make sure you have approximately the same amount of work each week, which makes time management much easier. We want to help you balance work, life and school.”