Working a full-time job and taking classes online isn’t as easy as it may seem. In fact, it can be just as demanding, if not more so, than a traditional classroom setting. It takes a certain amount of discipline to take courses online while working. Florida National University (FNU) has come up with a list of 10 ways to help full-time workers manage online classes.
1. Find a Job That Will Work with Your Class Schedule
Nothing will make your college life more stressful than working a job that doesn’t support your academic goals. Your job must understand you have responsibilities outside of work. You must communicate this to your supervisor.
Some jobs, like retail, rely heavily on scheduling shifts. So even if you’re taking classes online, there still needs to be time dedicated to studying. As a result, you should keep your supervisor informed about your academic priorities each semester, as some courses may require more time than others.
Many online students are under the misconception that just because they don’t have a classroom to go to, they have more time on their hands. This may be true, but online college courses demand the same amount of attention and dedication as sitting in a classroom. Manage your time wisely.
2. Take Advantage of Weekends
You’re in college now. The cold, hard truth that other colleges and universities might not tell you is that weekends shouldn’t always be looked at as “days off” for college students, especially if you are working full-time. And taking online courses isn’t an exception. In fact, it might end up being a great advantage in managing your coursework.
If you’re working a full-time job and have the privilege of getting the weekends off, use those two days to dedicate to your online classroom time. Use this time to study, complete your assignments, and get organized for the week ahead. You may feel a little overwhelmed at times, trying to balance everything, this is normal. Utilize the weekends to keep it under control.
3. Be Disciplined and Stay Organized
Organization is going to be the key to your success. Working full-time and taking on a full course load online requires discipline. You must stay organized all semester. This means keeping up with study material and due dates for assignments and exams. Does a physical planner work better for you or do you prefer a digital planner? Find out what works for you and stick to it.
4. Use Your Lunch and Break Time to Study
Depending on how your job is scheduled, you may have anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour for lunch and maybe two 10-15 minute breaks in between. Use this time to study. If your job is located by a coffee shop or library, go there and use that as your classroom. Perhaps the break room could serve as a temporary classroom. Utilize this downtime to get ahead of your studies.
5. Create a Study Space in Your Home
Home offices are the new norm. If you haven’t had the chance to set up yours, don’t wait. If you don’t have a second bedroom to create an office space, use an area of another room that is designated solely for your studies. This will help give you the discipline needed to focus on your schoolwork.
6. Utilize Your Smartphone
Another great source for online studying while working full-time is having access to your smartphone. It doesn’t matter what kind of smartphone it is as long as you can get an Internet connection. You’ll be able to check in on updates from your professors, chat with your classmates, and even do a little research. Just be smart about using your phone. It’s easy to get distracted.
7. Turn Your TV Off and Eliminate Distractions
You may think you’re a multi-tasking pro, but multi-tasking never lets your brain fully focus on one thing. When studying, eliminate any distractions, including the TV. Make sure the home office you’ve set up is away from all distractions. When it’s time to study, it’s time to study. Afterward, you can reward yourself by watching that new TV show.
8. Set Your Alarm
Anyone who works from home can tell you that they are sometimes more distracted at home than in the office. This is because life can get in the way. That’s perfectly normal. What might help is setting your alarm on your phone or clock to remind you to dedicate an hour or two toward your online studies. Even though you’re not in the classroom, it doesn’t mean the school bell stopped ringing.
You may be thinking, “How do I find time to exercise? I barely have time to study!” Taking time to exercise gets your blood flowing. It might be just the thing you need to give you that mental boost of energy to keep you focused and sharp enough to pass that next exam.
10. Develop a Study Group
Sometimes, it’s just good to know that you’re not doing this hustle of work and school by yourself. Find friends, co-workers, and classmates who are doing the same. Having a support system is another way to get that mental boost of encouragement you need to complete your academic studies.