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Studying and working full time

Considering full time study while working? It might sound crazy to some, but the good news is, studying and working full time can be done! I did it, and came through with my sanity still intact. But I have to be honest it will at times test your stress levels, and resilience, but it will also be very rewarding.

My experience was a positive one, and I have no regrets. But there are some things to consider before you take on what seems like an extra burden on top of everything else you have on your plate.

Why did I choose to study while also holding down a full-time job?

It meant I could stay focussed and complete my course in the shortest amount of time whilst fulfilling my career aspirations. It also gave me the opportunity to apply what I was learning to my workplace in real-time. (Part-time study is an option too but will obviously take you longer). You know what they say – short term pain, long term gain.

Is fulltime work and study right for you?

First thing you need to do is be sure you have the capacity and commitment to undertake study as well as working. I did this by assessing my current workload and anticipated what I had coming up. I combined this with how many hours a week my course study expectation were (this is often listed in online course guides).

I weighed this up also with family, social and/or sporting commitments. You need to ask yourself, “can I really fit in fulltime study and work, basketball training, the kid’s music rehearsals, nanna’s evening catch-ups plus weekend partying?” Importantly, be realistic. Recognise that something has to give and find the balance that fits your lifestyle. You can make it work if you want it to.

Obviously, there are financial considerations too. I found affording necessary textbooks etc a lot easier with a fulltime wage.

I’m not going to lie, it will be quite demanding at times, especially around assignment due dates and/or exams, so you need to have the support of everyone around you to get you through. And coffee, you need good coffee!!

Consider what study channel suits you best. I chose an online study option because a more flexible structure fitted in better with my work commitments. I also chose a field of study that I had plenty of interest in, which helped keep me motivated.

Some hints and tips to get you through – Sstudying and working full time

  • Be disciplined! Make a study plan and take every opportunity you can to get some study time in e.g; on the bus/train on the way to work, during lunch breaks, waiting for little Johnny to finish soccer practice, you name it, you’ll be surprised how easily you can stay on top of things if you stick to your study plan.
  • Talk to your boss. This is beneficial for several reasons. Some employers offer study provisions whereby you are allowed paid time off to attend study commitments (exams/assignment preparation etc). Some employers may even subsidise your course fees if what you are studying is work related or will enhance skills relevant to your job.
    My work paid for half of my course which was a huge benefit to my wallet and also made me accountable for achieving good marks. Your boss can also cut you some slack if you have their support ie; decrease your workload, allow you study time whilst ‘on the job’ or let you leave early to catch up on unit readings.
  • Talk to your lecturers/educators. Most lecturers understand you are only human and if they know you have competing priorities at times due to full time work, they may be more sympathetic when it comes to extension requests (but don’t make a habit of requesting these based on work pressures – it’s not a good look and there is no guarantee they will be accommodating).
  • Be prepared to miss out on things occasionally. E.g.; skipping Friday night work drinks so you can do a few hours study instead. Having said that, it is also important to take mental breaks. Have a designated night off study and enjoy yourself. It’s all about balance!
  • Reach out to others in your course that are also working fulltime. Form a study group with them and/or share hints and tips on how you are coping.

Most of all, enjoy the experience and benefits it brings. For me, studying while working, gave me extra skills such as increased resilience, effective time and stress management strategies.

My commitment to study whilst working also demonstrated to my employer I had ambition and was active in pursuing personal development. This gave me an advantage when it came to securing a promotion and subsequently saw my career opportunities expand dramatically.

It will be hard, but very rewarding, do it if you dare. YOU got this !

Author: Sam


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