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Making College Fit

College Planning to Balance Classes with Family, Work and Play

Whether you’re starting college for the first time or returning to continue your education, it should come as no surprise that juggling the rigors of school can be challenging. In fact, 75% of college students are working towards a degree while balancing either a family, a job, or both.1 But with careful planning and caring support, determined individuals can reach their goals.

So how do you find the right balance between your academic and non-academic life? While every student is different, you might consider the following ideas.

MAKE TIME MATTER

You might think there won’t be enough hours in the day to work, care for your family, pursue your degree and still enjoy life. Planning ahead and focusing on the results you want can help you make solid decisions for managing your time when you’re in the thick of things.

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DETERMINE PRIORITIES

School is a priority and you’ll want to make time for this new endeavor. Evaluate other commitments to family, work, community, and even upcoming major life milestones that could affect your daily life.

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SET REALISTIC GOALS AND EXPECTATIONS

Earning a degree is a big goal, but you can take small steps to get there. Use the acronym SMART to help establish and evaluate your goals: they should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely.

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MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR SCHEDULE

Regular routines will help keep you on track, so plan things in advance and map out timing for key activities and responsibilities. You can also take advantage of small chunks of time as they arise.

Find Flexibility

Going with the flow is sometimes tougher than it sounds. Fortunately, colleges and universities are making it easier to incorporate classes into the rest of your life. Some offer year-round start times and degree program options with varying credit requirements. There are other things to ask yourself, too, which will help you make choices that work best for you.

What commitments do you need to balance?

When and where do you want to take classes?

What’s the best way for you to study?

How should you pace yourself?

What commitments do you need to balance?

Take a close look at your life. School will coexist with family commitments, job responsibilities, and the other activities that make up your well-rounded life – all of which could change at a moment’s notice. Take time to map out all the essential elements to help you better evaluate how to make school fit with your life.

When and where do you want to take classes?

Think about the environment where you learn best. Do you need to take classes at a certain time or day of the week? How far are you able and willing to travel? Are you an early bird or night owl? All these can help sort out the specifics of your college schedule.

What’s the best way for you to study?

Evaluate your learning style and what you need in order to stay motivated and on track. Do you need teammates, group projects or other classmates to keep you focused and accountable? Or are you good at staying focused and pacing yourself? Your degree program may incorporate some of each, and you’re the best resource to know where you’ll work your best.

How should you pace yourself?

Many adult students start a little slower until they get into their new rhythm. Ease into juggling your classwork with your job by starting with just one class. Save tougher courses for quieter times at work, or online courses for busy phases when you have to put in extra hours.