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Tips on Going to School Part-Time While Working

by Buffy Naillon

Adults who return to school part-time often must juggle the demands of their full-time jobs with the requirements of their course work. While this can present a number of challenges, it isn't impossible. To successfully manage both obligations, students in this situation should keep in mind a few tips that will make their lives a bit easier.

Make an Assessment

Some students don't have a realistic idea of how much time classes will take. To avoid making too large a commitment, it's important for students to assess the amount of work classes will require and then determine a course load. Most colleges expect students to spend a couple of hours studying outside of class for each hour in class. This means that students taking a three-credit course will be doing about 9 to 10 hours of work each week for that course. Particularly challenging classes can add even more time. After looking at all these factors, students can determine how many classes they can fit into a schedule.

Realistic Academic Expectations

Although the idea of a 4.0 GPA appeals to high achievers, it may not represent a realistic expectation for students who work full-time or for students with families. This sets up a situation for them to be frustrated with their academic efforts. To make their expectations more realistic and their schedules more manageable, students should transition into their new school obligations. Instead of signing up for a full load of classes, which is 12 credits or more at most universities, they should start by taking just one class the first semester in school. This gives them a more realistic way to work toward their degrees. It also opens up the possibility of them getting good grades; they won't be trying to do more school work than their work and family schedules permit.

Get Support

One challenge many adult students face once they start school is the reaction from family and friends. Adults attending school part-time find they must ask their families to share more of the burden of household responsibilities. If students can talk with their families ahead of time about what they need, it's far easier to get everyone on board helping with extra responsibilities.

Find the Right Program

The unfortunate problem for many adults going to school is that traditional college class schedules don't fit their schedules. This leads them to forgo their educations altogether or possibly miss work to attend class. However, online classes and degrees have changed this. There also are options like Boise State University's AfterWork degree program, which schedules classes on nights and weekends on the traditional campus instead of online. Both options allow working adults to go to school on a schedule that fits their needs without sacrificing jobs that are important to their financial well-being.

About the Author

Buffy Naillon has worked in the media industry since 1999, contributing to Germany's "Der Spiegel" magazine and various websites. She received a bachelor's degree in German from Boise State University. Naillon also attended New York University and participated in the foreign exchange program at Germany's Saarland University. She is completing her master's degree in educational technology at Boise State.

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