overhead shot of student on computer working full time and going to school full time
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10 Master Tips on How To Go To School & Work Full Time

02.08.2022 • 9 min read

Jennifer Rivera

Subject Matter Expert

This article goes over how to work full time and go to school full time, the benefits of working, and tips on managing your time.

In This Article

  1. Why Work and Go to College?

  2. 10 Tips to Managing Going Full Time

  3. Focus on Your Goal

How many hours of sleep do you need each night?

Around 8.

How many hours do you need to work each day to maintain a full-time job?

Around 8.

How many are left in a day after working and sleeping?

Around 8.

The expectation is in those remaining 8 hours you need to clean up, eat all your meals, clean again, go to the store, talk to friends, get exercise, commute to where you need to be, take care of your family, and take care off all the other adult responsibilities you have.

How could you ever fit going to school full-time into your schedule?

Going to college full-time and working full-time may seem like a fantasy, but being able to balance work and school may be more possible than you think.

In this article, we will discuss why you might work and go to college and provide some helpful tips to manage being a working student.

Why Work and Go to College?

You may consider going back to college for a number of reasons including:

  • Advancing your career

  • Making more money

  • Learning new skills

  • Moving into a new industry

  • Personal growth

The idea of going back to school, whether it’s going back in your 30s or starting your bachelor’s degree, may feel both exciting and intimidating.

This is completely normal.

While you desire to learn some new skills and advance your career, some big challenges await with full-time college enrollment. Finding the time to go to school is perhaps the largest challenge, but figuring out how to pay for it is also a significant issue.

The reality is, higher education is expensive. Since 1980, college tuition has increased 169% and since 2007, student loan debt has increased significantly as well. If you work and can put more money towards tuition, you will have less debt.

Having a full-time job while going to school makes the financial burden more doable. Even if you work a part-time student job, it can help significantly.

The good news is college is changing. Fewer college students live on campus, more and more are taking online courses, and many college students are able to figure out how to go to school and work full-time.

10 Tips to Managing Going Full Time

1. Develop Routines

Routines have a bad rap of being…routine. But routines are a superpower to save time and mental energy. Develop routines for morning or evening chores, and you eliminate having to put thought into them. Develop routines for studying to reduce the mental agony of deciding what to focus on.

Try these tips to develop routine:

  • Do chores in the same order every day. This eliminates the need to spend mental energy on them.

  • Have a ‌beverage every time you sit down to study. If you drink the same beverage – like coffee – all day, try having a ‌mug you use only when you study. It’s a mental trigger telling your brain it’s time to do some hard work.

  • As much as possible, study at the same place, at the same time. If you don’t have a dedicated study space only used by you, try a candle, or a certain seat at the table you only use during study time. You can even try your local coffee shop!

2. Schedule What You Will Study

What subject are you going to study? What assignments are you going to work on? Scheduling these ahead of time helps you better prepare for the day ahead - and reminds you to bring the right materials!

3. Use Technology to Eliminate Distractions

Time management is even more difficult when distractions like social media apps and notifications from your phone get in the way.

Try these tips to help reduce these distractions:

  • Use the Focus feature on your smartphone to eliminate notifications when you are studying. You can set these up so you can still important messages or calls, but not notifications from your apps.

  • Set up website blockers for social media, web games, and other distracting sites on your computer during study time.

  • When taking online courses, put your computer in full-screen mode, this way you aren’t distracted by other tabs on your computer.

4. Sit in the Front Row in Your Hardest Face-to-Face Course

If you sit in the front row, you are less likely to let your mind wander and are more likely to take notes because the instructor is right there. Use social pressure to help you pay closer attention

5. Plan Out Your Semester

Go through your syllabi and write down in a calendar (electronic or on paper) all your assignments and ‌look through them. Pay attention to where you have up and downtimes in your course load. Do you have three exams in one week? Four big final projects?

Now is the time to break them into little chunks and schedule out when to work on them. This way you can avoid the panic other college students will be feeling during those times.

6. Improve Your Focus

In the real-world many people find it difficult to sit down and read even a page or two without getting distracted. Train yourself to get better at this. Use a study timer to have short focus sessions and take a short break after them.

If you need to, start studying for 10 minutes, get up and stretch for one minute , and get back to studying (use the timer). After completing four rounds of this, take a slightly longer break. Every week, increase your study time between breaks by a few minutes until you are able to concentrate for much longer periods of time.

7. Look at the Long Game

Some courses you are going to struggle in, and that’s ok. If you are struggling in a specific course, think about:

  • Is this a course central to what you want to do in the future? If it is, buckle down on it.

  • If you do poorly on an assignment, take it as a learning opportunity. What did you miss? What can you improve on for next time? Make those adjustments in your routine.

  • Talk to your instructor! Ask her what areas she sees you struggling in, and some ideas for how you can improve.

8. Schedule Workouts and Meals

As much as possible, eat and exercise at the same time each day. Schedule a lunch break, and don’t skip meals or physical activity. In the long run, eating healthy food and moving your body will help you in your quest to go to school while working full-time, even if they seem to be a distraction at the moment. This ‌self-care is important for your physical and mental health.

9. Consider Online and Hybrid Courses

Online and hybrid courses are a great way to put some flexibility into your degree program. Outlier.org offers high-quality online college courses you can take at any time and are a fraction of the cost of traditional in-person courses.

Remember when taking online courses:

Schedule time for lectures like any other course

If the course is synchronous you’ll need to carve out time to attend the weekly course meetings. However, if your course is asynchronous, you will need to schedule a time to watch the pre-recorded lectures.

You usually can view the time length of each lecture ahead of time in your course module. If this is not available, you can still estimate the watch hours. The number of credits is roughly equivalent to how many hours you would spend in the course. If it’s a 3-credit course, schedule 3 hours per week to watch any online lectures.

Schedule homework time too

You will possibly need more time beyond the lectures to get everything done. Consider time for various homework tasks such as readings, discussions, research, assignments, etc.

Overall, your total engagement with the course – for lectures, homework, and studying – should be a minimum of 3 hours per credit hour. Better to plan too much time and get everything done than too little and be stressed

Read all the announcements and emails

During online courses, you don’t have those moments of time before and after to stop the instructor and ask questions. But your instructor will communicate much more through email and announcements. Make sure you have notifications set up on your phone to alert you when these come and make sure you read them!

10. Plan for Mishaps

Things will go wrong. Your kids will get sick. You will get sick. Cars will break down. At the most important point in the semester, your computer will die. Plan for issues in advance!

  • Know your attendance policies ahead of time and use absences only when you really need to.

  • If your car breaks down, is there public transportation? Or a person you can get a ride from?

  • Is there a friend who can watch the kids during an instructor in-service day? (Schedule it now!).

  • Are you using backups or a cloud system on your computer? You can still work on a campus computer if ‌issues arise with yours.

Planning for these problems in advance can help alleviate stress when the mishap occurs.

Focus on Your Goal

Going to school full-time and working full-time is not an easy task, but lots of people have figured out how to do it. Perhaps there’s a shift you need to make to avoid burnout.

You might want to consider taking on a part-time job or looking into work-from-home jobs that work well with a college schedule. Your program may even have paid internships available so you can gain valuable work experience while earning an income.

If finances are the issue think about filling out a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) to get financial aid. This allows you to see if you qualify for grants or work-study to help pay for school. You can also make a college budget to better manage your expenses.

It is possible to manage school and work at the same time. To do this you need to figure out what your goal(s) are for going to school. By keeping staying focused on your goal(s) you will keep your motivation high as you move forward with your education.

When school starts to get overwhelming, take some time to write down how much you have accomplished so far. This positive shift takes the focus off of what needs to be done and puts it on how amazing of a job you are doing.

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