To get a graduate degree, you have to work hard and be committed. But getting a higher degree can seem impossible if you work full-time and go to grad school at the same time. How will you handle having so much to do?
It’s not easy to work full-time while in graduate school, but it is possible. Getting a graduate degree while working full-time is not impossible. Many students have done it before you and lived to tell the tale.
We talked to people who worked hard to get their graduate degrees while also working full-time. They are giving you their best advice on how to handle your work while going to graduate school full-time.
Practical Advice for Working Full-time in Grad School
It’s one thing to get good advice about working full-time while in graduate school. It’s quite another to actually do it. These practical tips from students who have been in your shoes can help you balance your responsibilities and finish your education with pride. Take a look at this list to see which of these pieces of advice you can use.
Choose a Degree and Workplace That Work Together
You can’t be in two places at the same time. It’s clear that you need to choose a job and a degree programme that give you the flexibility you need to be on time for both. But your place of work can do even more to help you reach your education goals.
Alex Tran, a digital marketing strategist for e-commerce and logistics company Hollingsworth, says, “Find a full-time job that fits with the degree you want.” “This will make what you learn useful at work and make it less stressful to learn a lot of different things.”
If your current job has something to do with your degree, your boss might even pay for some of your schooling. Tran says, “It’s great that companies do this because they see it as an investment in their employees.” You’ll not only have less financial stress, but you’ll also know that your company is fully behind you.
Create a Schedule
If you don’t know when you’ll finish your homework each week, that’s a recipe for stress. “Know ahead of time when your work, school, and study hours are,” says Sarah Kitlowski, who worked full-time while getting her MBA and is now the president and COO of Omeza.
This will help you avoid this problem. “And give yourself more time to study and do homework than you think you will need.” You know your life better than anyone else, so choose a schedule that works for you, even if it looks different from what everyone else is doing.
Adam Cole, who got his master’s degree while working full-time as a music teacher and raising five kids, says that whatever you do, it has to fit your life and personality. “Find the things that work and throw away the ones that don’t.”
Kitlowski says, “It’s important to set limits and make plans that work for you, even if your friends, family, and work aren’t happy.” Students who don’t have clear limits will always have to choose between their studies and what other people want from them. It might be hard to say no to other people, but setting clear limits will help you focus on your schoolwork.
Kitlowski says that you should watch less TV, spend less time at events than you usually do, and be careful about which social plans you make. She says, “Don’t let people take your time or attention for granted.”
Connect With Other Working Students
Working full-time while going to graduate school is a rare situation. You might feel like no one understands what you’re going through. But you’re not the only one. “The best place to get help is from people who are going through or have gone through the same thing you are,” says Kitlowski.
Cole agrees, saying, “If there are other students in the same situation, it’s helpful to talk about it, especially since an overworked partner may not be able to fully understand.” He suggests talking to classmates who are in the same situation, joining online groups for working students and talking to your school’s counselor about how to deal with the emotional stress of work and grad school.
Make Time for Yourself
Running from work to school and not taking time for yourself is a good way to get burned out. Long-term, you’ll be more productive if you take time to recharge and rest regularly, but this self-care time probably won’t happen if you don’t plan for it.
Kitlowski says that you should schedule free time the same way you schedule work and school. She says, “You still need time to sleep and rest.” Spending time with people you care about and doing things you enjoy can help you recharge so you’re ready to get back to work in the classroom later.
Acknowledge the Stress
Don’t be hard on yourself if you feel overwhelmed or stressed. It’s not easy to go to grad school and work full-time, but you’re doing it! Cole says, “It’s important to realise that the stress is coming from a strange situation.”
Instead of blaming yourself for not being able to handle the stress well, acknowledge how hard things are and be kind to yourself. Cole says, “Recognize that this is a very hard thing to do and plan accordingly, giving yourself the space and time you need to study and have fun while still meeting your family obligations.”
Keep Your Eye on the Prize
Imagine proudly walking across the stage in your cap and gown to get the graduate degree you’ve worked so hard for. Keeping this motivation in the front of your mind will help you keep going even when things get hard.
“Remember why you’re doing this, how much longer you have to go, and how you can celebrate the small and big wins with your partner and family.” Cole says. “When you’re stuck in a never-ending tunnel of work, there’s no reason not to celebrate!”
Reach for the Stars
It is possible to work full-time and go to graduate school if you use smart strategies to help you manage your time and energy.
Now that you know you can work full-time while going to graduate school, you might be wondering if you can afford to get a master’s degree.