There are many reasons why you might want to start an online degree program while working full-time. Perhaps you never went to college and want to take this opportunity to get a degree in order to improve your job prospects, or maybe you want to facilitate a career change that the degree you have would not be suitable for. Or, maybe you want to improve your chances of getting a promotion or working in a more senior position in your current industry, for example, getting a DNP while working as a nurse in order to become a nurse practitioner.
Trying to juggle full-time work with your other personal and professional commitments can be challenging enough. Add an online degree or master’s degree to that, and you might be gearing yourself up for a scheduling nightmare. But the good news is that online degree programs are highly flexible, and almost fourteen million people are currently working while enrolled in some kind of online learning. While it definitely requires a delicate balancing act, getting your degree while working from time is certainly achievable. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you get started.
Time Management is Crucial:
When it comes to success with an online degree program, good time management is absolutely crucial. This is especially true if you work busy, long shifts in a fast-paced career like nursing while you are getting your DNP qualification at the same time. Map out when you have assignments due with plenty of time to spare so that you can figure out which overlap with any other obligations that you have. If you’ve already booked a vacation, expect a busy week at work or another commitment coming up, giving yourself plenty of time in advance will ensure that you can plan accordingly and get things done without getting stressed out.
Figure Out Where You Learn Best:
One of the biggest benefits of online degree programs like these DNP programs online from Baylor University is that you can learn on your own time and at a pace that suits you best, so spend some time figuring out when and where that is.
- Maybe you tend to be at your most productive later into the evening and prefer to log on and tackle your assignments after everybody else has finished for the day
- You might be an early bird who learns better when getting the day started with some creative problem-solving
- Maybe you work best at home, or perhaps getting out to somewhere like a library or local shop works better for keeping you focused.
Knowing when and where you tend to learn best makes it easier for you to more effectively plan your day.
Make it a Habit:
It’s always easier to stick at something once it becomes a habit, so once you have figured out when and where you learn best, make it a habit as best you can.
- Set aside time that you know is going to work best for you each day or week to work on assignments
- Read online course materials
- Connect with your student peers
Whether you dedicate a full day on the weekend to complete your coursework or prefer to spend an hour or two at your preferred time each day to get a little bit done at a time, establishing a solid routine that works for you will make it easier for you to balance getting your degree with working full-time.
Set Up a Study Space:
One of the downsides of studying for an online degree is that because you are able to study from home, it’s often easier for distractions to get in your way. Online learning requires a lot of self-discipline, and while it might be tempting to check up on your social media notifications, respond to work emails, or even do the laundry at the time you’re meant to be studying, it’s important to eliminate as many distractions as you can. It can be easier to set up space in your home that is dedicated to studying; a desk in a spare bedroom or in a corner of your living room or kitchen can make it easier to get in the zone once you start studying.
Keep Your Employer in the Loop:
Having a supportive employer who understands and appreciates what you are doing in order to improve your career outlook will always help when you are trying to juggle getting an online degree with working full-time. Letting your employer know your plans will show them that you are motivated to invest in your professional development. And, if you plan to stay with the same employer after you graduate, they might be able to cover all or some of the cost of your tuition or put other measures in place to support you in a variety of different ways, such as allowing you to work more flexible hours.
By sharing the fact that you are furthering your education, you might even put yourself in a better position for upcoming promotions.
Ask for Help:
Juggling a full-time career and studying online can be difficult, regardless of your job or what you’ve decided to study. So, be aware that you don’t need to go through all this on your own. If you need help in any way, you can always turn to your family and friends for some support and guidance. There may be people in your circle who can provide you with valuable advice that you might not have thought of before, or people may be able to offer you some practical help, such as childminding or helping with housework. Of course, sometimes all you need is to talk and get things off your chest, so surround yourself with supportive people who care about and want the best for you and take them up on any offers of support that they extend.
Finally, your main priority throughout this experience should be looking after yourself. Burnout will not do you any good in your career or your studies, so be sure to eat well, get enough exercise, and sleep the recommended 7-9 hours a night.