Continuing your education is always a good idea, especially if your dream job requires an advanced degree. Taking time off from work to go back to school is ideal, but for many people, it’s just not an option. There are always options that help you pay for school, and some programs will even pay you to get an advanced degree, but for most people, the added expense of continuing their education, on top of the expenses of everyday life, makes it impossible for them to quit their day jobs.
Balancing work and school is never easy, but you have a couple options that can help make it easier. Going to school part time (taking just one or two classes at a time) was designed for busy individuals who can’t afford to put their lives on hold to go to school. Alternatively, you can choose to go to school full-time while working either full-time or part-time, depending on what your situation allows. Going to school full-time will allow you to get your degree faster, but it also means signing up for a very busy life with very little, or no, personal time.
People today talk a lot about work/life balance. It seems like the busier they are the more they talk about the need for balance. It’s important to remember that, when you’re pushing yourself to your limits (as you probably will be when working and going to school at the same time), there’s no such thing as balance. When you’re that busy, some things are bound to fall through the cracks. It’s inevitable.
In addition to work and school, you also have a personal life. You have friends and family who would like to see you once in a while. That’s great, and you should absolutely make time for that, but you can’t expect to prioritize them every time. Work and school will take up the vast majority of your time and the people who love and support you will understand that. Instead of making you feel guilty for missing a birthday party, they’ll support you while you work hard to provide for yourself and your family, while simultaneously furthering your education.
Letting your employer and/or teachers know about your busy life can also help. Depending on your job, your employer will probably be happy you’re going back to school because your increased knowledge and skillset will make you a more valuable employee. As a result, they’ll probably cut you some slack if you just ask them to. Likewise, teachers in higher education are used to students who juggle multiple lives at once and will most likely give you an extension when you need one or a chance to do a test at another time if it conflicts with work.
It’s important to know ahead of time what life will be like before you take on multiple responsibilities so you know what to expect. You might hear a lot about the importance of balance, but don’t believe everything you hear. Just accept that you’ll miss some things and move on.