The Work Life School Triangle: 6 Tips For Succeeding in a Part Time Masters Program
The following is a guest post by Sylvia Giltner. Her bio follows.
This year, colleges and universities will award more than ¾ of a million Master’s degrees to students. Many of these will be given to students who attend school part time while being enrolled in part time graduate school programs.
Of course, coordinating working, studying, and the rest of your life is no easy feat. Forget about balance. That just doesn’t exist. Whether your getting a masters in business administration, or a masters of social work, the following 6 tips can help you to survive, maybe even thrive in your part time Master’s program.
Increase Retention And Understanding by Making Connections
One of the benefits of working while you pursue your degree is that you will often be able to make connections between the theories you are learning in school, and your real life work experiences.
Do this as much as possible. In fact, make a dedicated effort to find and explore the places where what you learn intersects with what you are doing. You’ll gain some great insights, and improve your ability to contribute to discussions in class.
Put Everything in a Calendar App
Staying organized and on top of things is vital to ensuring that your life doesn’t become chaotic. One of the best ways to manage this is to find a calendar app that includes to do lists and reminders. Then, as soon as you know due dates, start entering them.
Once you know your due dates, you can start to create and categorize various to do lists that you can work through to accomplish each task. Of course, it goes without saying that work, family, and social obligations need to be added as well.
Give Everything its Time
You will never find the ideal balance. There is always going to be one side of the triangle that needs to be prioritized more than the others. However, as much as you can be sure you give every aspect of your life dedicated attention without allowing things to bleed over.
This includes not checking your work emails while you’re in school or working on assignments during family time. Your better off temporarily cutting back on the amount of time that you have to dedicate to each area of your life than you are phoning in your presence.
Schedule Time For Things That Aren’t Related to Work or School
Burnout is never a good thing. The fastest path to burnout is never giving yourself time to pursue hobbies, interests, or a social life. Unfortunately, many students don’t recognize the need to actively plan for family and social time.
Try to plan at least one evening or partial day each week where you have nothing scheduled that is related to work or school. You’ll find you aren’t as likely to feel stressed out and on edge all of the time.
Start Planning Your Post Graduate Life Now
How are you planning to put your Master’s degree to use? Even if you are a year or two away from the big milestone, it’s time to start planning now. You should consider getting started on the following:
- Update Your LinkedIn Profile And Start Making Connections
- Speak to Your Employers About Possible Opportunities For You
- Get help with your resume
- Plan Your Thesis
- Research Career Opportunities in Other Locations
- Scope Out Doctoral Programs
As you get closer to finishing your program, things are going to get really intense. You’ll want to get as much done ahead of time so that you aren’t overloaded as you finish up your research and prepare for graduation.
Learn How to Switch Gears Quickly
Essentially, you are living in three different worlds. Your priorities, the way that you interact with others, and your focus all change as you move from one world to another. One way that you may notice this happening is in your written communication.
Keep in mind that formal, business communication is quite different than academic writing. In fact, you might have knowledge that you have obtained via your work experience that you are tempted to apply to your academic research and related writing. Unfortunately, if your knowledge hasn’t been documented and peer reviewed, it might not have a place in your academic work. There are, of course, stylistic differences to be considered as well.
By following the tips above, your chances at successfully completing your Master’s program will increase greatly. This could mean great things for your future career and academic pursuits.