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December 1, 2021

8 Tips for Doing a Degree While Working Full Time

An exciting new role has opened up at your workplace. Yes! You think to yourself, it’s finally time to advance my career! You click the tab to open up the job requirements. Heart beating with anticipation you scroll through to the end of the page where your excitement suddenly comes to a screeching halt. 

There it is. The stop sign on your road out of this office. “Masters Degree Required.”

The incentive to pursue a masters is there, but many people shy away from doing a degree while working full time because of a fear of taking on too much. Is it possible to earn a degree while working and juggling a personal life?  Pursuing higher education is an amazing accomplishment and a huge investment in your future. However, this ambitious step is not for the faint of heart. Doing a degree while working full time takes time, effort, and energy. Fortunately, you are not alone! 

Grace Online students and professors have some helpful tips for those doing a degree while working full time. 

1. Take breaks when needed. Life gets busy, but be sure to take time for yourself.

Leah Reinholt is pursuing her BS in Ministry Leadership through Grace Online so that she can work more hours for her two jobs. Although she has a loaded schedule, she understands the importance of rest. Setting aside time to work out, walk outside, read a book, or see a friend can be an empowering part of your day that gives you energy to go into the rest of your work.

2. Get to know your professors and let them encourage you!

Dr. Steve Grill is the director of the online Masters in Nonprofit Management, and he teaches four classes in the program including the Foundations of Nonprofit Management class. He shares that he has had many of his master’s students tell him that they feel like part of a family when they do their work in the program, and that is because of Grace’s caring community.

“Our program works diligently to treat each of our students like a family member,” says Dr. Grill. 

Building these relationships can help online students feel connected to a healthy support system.

Allison Buzalski, first-ever Grace College undergrad graduate of the Special Education Intense Intervention Program through Grace Online.

3. Stay as organized as possible.

Allison Buzalski knows that teaching full time while getting certified in special education intense intervention is not a simple task. Buzalski shares that staying on track with deadlines and getting ahead on them is the best way to manage your workload. 

“It can be easy to feel overwhelmed,” Allison explains. “But staying as organized as possible can help with that.” Use a calendar, notepads, or sticky notes to keep track of assignments, due dates, and tasks.

4. Use Your Resources

“Asking a lot of questions was so helpful for me to fully understand the content and was great for connecting with people in the class!” Allison added. Just because your class is online does not mean you are alone! Reach out to others in the class and ask clarifying questions of professors to make sure you truly comprehend the expectations. 

Not everyone realizes that there are resources available specifically to students. Grace Online offers tutoring, a writing lab, and other class resources which are accessible online and completely free. The goal is to help students succeed — especially those who are doing a degree while working full time. There are countless resources available to make success a reality!

Brittany Tadesse, recent Master of Business Administration grad.

5. Don’t overdo it.

“I was teaching full time while earning my MBA,” reflects Brittany Tadesse, recent business administration grad, “and something that got me through it was remembering that it was OK to not give every waking moment to my degree.”

Tadesse made time for what was life-giving to her, which sometimes meant setting an “end time” for her work.

“My friends and my community are so valuable to me. That’s where I find rest. So that’s what I wanted to make sure I made time for. I would set an alarm for an hour or two of work time, and when that alarm went off, I shut my laptop and went out the door.”

Gershom and Brittany Tadesse, recent Master of Business Administration grads.

6. Keep accountability.

When you go home from a long day of work, sometimes the last thing you want to do is sit at your desk at home and work on schoolwork. Gershom Tadesse looks back on his experience working 40+ hours a week while pursuing master’s courses in business management with his wife. “Going through the classes with someone was really helpful,” he shared. “We were able to keep each other accountable to sit down, get our work done, stay focused, and do our best.”

Accountability can look different ways for different people. For the Tadesses, it was each other.

“It helped that we were in the same classes together,” says Brittany. “We even had some healthy competition over our grades.”

For some, it may be sitting with a friend while they work on a project, or having a relative that will text them to check in periodically. Whatever it looks like, accountability is a great tool for success!

7. Write it down.

Prioritizing tasks is important. When doing a degree while working full time, there can be an unending amount of tasks to complete! 

“Google calendar makes staying on task so much easier,” said Gershom. “I felt like writing assignments down helped me prioritize what I needed to get done.”

We suggest that you write down each task that needs to be completed that week, then rank the tasks in importance from greatest to least. This will help you decide what needs to happen first and reduce feelings of stress later on.

Madison Cowman, Master of Nonprofit Management student.

8. Schedule social and physical activities in between work and school.

“Doing a degree while working full time is not for the faint of heart,” said Master’s of Nonprofit Management student Madison Cowman. “Days can feel long when you go from eight hours of looking at a screen at work straight into reading and typing papers at night. I always like to make sure I get a workout or some quality face time with friends and family after my workday so that when it’s time to get back into the grind, I’m refreshed and energized! It’s easy for students doing a degree while working full time to convince themselves they don’t have time for social and physical activities, but in my opinion, those are the key to success! They help me remain balanced and optimistic.”

Looking for further resources to help you on your journey? Visit our website to see the resources available for current Grace online students.

Are you not yet an online student but considering applying? Take a look at the many associate, bachelors, and masters degree programs for working adults we offer here at Grace Online.

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