Studying while working full time is not for the faint hearted but for those who find their rhythm can knock out a qualification before they know it, enhancing their career prospects and future earnings.
Employers look favourably on those who have recent qualifications and especially those who have chosen to study and work. Whether they are a new employer or your current employer they will be impressed by the commitment you have put in and the knowledge you have gained. Further study will not only give you extra skills, but it will also give you extra confidence in every work situation.
Here are 5 tips to help you succeed:
1 Study something you are really interested in
The trick to surviving studying and working is to study something you are passionate about. Have a good think about what and where you want your future to be and then work out what you need to get there. Some questions to consider are:
- Do you need a higher education degree or can you do something through the industry association?
- Can you start with a diploma or short 6-month course and then roll it into something else if you have enjoyed it?
- Can you study online, or do you learn best sitting in a classroom with others?
- Can you self-pace or do you need specific semesters to adhere to?
There are so many educational offerings out there and different options to consider – choose what is going to be best for you. Also ask a good friend what they think you should be studying or career path that you should be moving into, as they might have some interesting insights. Friends can know you better than your think sometimes!
2 Ps get degrees
It is that simple … passes get degrees. You will get the same piece of paper as the next person no matter what grade you get for each subject. No boss will ask you in an interview how many high distinctions you got over the course of your degree. They instead will want to hear a topical assignment and what you learned from it.
Any easy way to pass everything for the course of your study is to hand in the assignment, answering the question, with some referencing, on the due date, every time. Yes, it is that simple. Not every assignment needs to be a masterpiece, some will be, and some might just scrap through. Keep moving forward and on through the assignments. Each module or subject you complete will be another step closer to getting that qualification and getting your free time back! We all know how quickly time flies when you are busy, and this is particularly true when you are studying.
3 Find a study buddy
Try to find a study buddy within your course and commit to them early. They need to be the one to share notes with you if you miss a class, partner up on any group work assignments and be your coffee buddy when you need to study for an exam! It is best to find a study buddy who organises themselves and thinks similarly to you. A good one can make the whole study experience a lot easier and could even turn into a real-life friend.
If you are not on campus, then find a friend who has been a student recently to be your cheerleader and accountability couch. Check in with them at least once a fortnight and tell them about your latest assignment or module. Ask them to help with motivation as needed.
4 Get organised
Working and studying is all about time management. You will need to give each priority an appropriate amount of hours each week. As soon as you start your course put all key dates in your diary. Make sure due dates for assignments and exams do not clash with big work projects, events or trips. If they do, plan to submit the assignment earlier so it is off your plate or work out how you are going to move work to make exam times!
Once you have key dates in your diary work backwards on and putting in dates like first drafts. Plan some study time each week for reading and assignments. Don’t think you will be able to study every night when you get home from work. Be realistic about making time on the weekends and blocking it out of your diary. Ensure you balance some self-care too. Learn to say no to doing things. And resist taking on any projects or additional commitments during term times.
5 Ask work to pay, or request study leave
If you can link your study to your current role then why not ask your current employer to consider funding your study. If they say no, you are no worse off, but if they say yes, what a win for you. Many businesses can offset the cost against a training budget so some companies can do it but just don’t advertise it.
If they can’t pay, ask if they offer any study leave. Some businesses are happy to give a day or two of study leave per semester. Take whatever is offered even if it is half a day and you do something for yourself on that day. Studying and working is hard work so take any offers of help and support.
If you haven’t studied since finishing your first degree or since high school, getting back into the swing of things will take some time. Be easy on yourself and realise this is a marathon not a race. You will get into the flow of studying even if it takes a semester or two. Be persistent and consistent. Before you know it, you will be donning a gown and collecting that coveted piece of paper.