By Ryan Laspina
Senior Specialist, Red Flags and External Reviews at APUS
Most of our students are considered nontraditional because they are not transitioning straight from high school into college. Many of them are older, have families, work part- or full-time, or serve in the U.S. military. It can be challenging for nontraditional students to balance all of these commitments.
To avoid feeling overwhelmed and maintain a balance, it’s best to:
- Start with a daily planner and keep it updated. With only so many hours in the day, the planner will help you balance work, home, life and school commitments.
- Know your priorities and which of those priorities are truly urgent. This knowledge will help you put situations into perspective.
- Determine whether your commitments to work and school will be full-time or part-time. This will help you avoid overcommitting yourself.
- Remember that it is physically and mentally demanding to go to school and hold a job as well. Make that decision dependent on your current financial and educational situation.
- Remain flexible, as your situation can always change.
To Maintain Balance, Use Your Support System, Eliminate Distractions and Set Realistic Goals
Remember to use your support system. Working toward a degree is one of the most honorable things you can do.
Your support system (family, friends and coworkers) will want to see you succeed. Lean on them for encouragement when it’s needed. They may even be willing to help you study or babysit.
Also, eliminate as many distractions as you can. Television, video games and social gatherings can eat up valuable time that you might need for schoolwork or work responsibilities. You will need to make sacrifices, so extensive entertainment time will be the first thing to go.
Set short-term and long-term goals. Short-term goals help to motivate you because they are more manageable and you can mark your progress more quickly.
Short-term goals are the “mile markers” that can keep your momentum going toward the long-term goal of achieving a degree. Accomplishing long-term goals, especially those associated with school or work, will feel wonderful.
School and Work Aren’t Easy, But It’s So Satisfying to Reach Your Goals
No one can say balancing work and school is easy. It takes a lot of hard work, determination and sacrifice. But with good planning and effort, you can accomplish all the school and work goals you set for yourself.