You Can Have It All: Balancing Work and Graduate School

Kathryn Knight Randolph

October 31, 2016

You Can Have It All: Balancing Work and Graduate School
Have it all with a healthy work life balance.
Want to go to graduate school but don’t want to leave your current full-time job? What if you could have it both ways? Many students do. One of the pros to doing both at the same time is still receiving a steady income, while the cons add up to little social life and a rigorous schedule. But it can be done by following a few simple principles.

Just Say No

One of the toughest parts about balancing school and work is giving up your social life. Though you don’t have to completely shirk family and friends for two or three years, you do need to be a little more strategic about when you see them. Opt for lunches with friends during the work week and save family visits for fall, winter and spring breaks at school. Friends and family will understand, especially if you let them know before you enroll that you won’t have as much time to devote to dinners, drinks and visits home.

Think Financially

More often than not, employers will offer employees in graduate school tuition assistance. Talk to your boss as well as human resources about financial help – or even footing the entire bill.
Also check to see if your employer provides financial planning help for employees balancing work and school. They may have helpful strategies on paying for school without forfeiting your 401(K).

Use Your Time at Work Wisely

As you work and attend school, look for ways in which the two connect. Sometimes, you’ll be able to use your work time in order to complete school assignments. In fact, some companies will let you work on your thesis during work hours – as long as it benefits the company. With that strategy, you’ll actually be getting paid to do your homework. Not bad, right?

Take Care of Yourself

Finally, don’t forget about the most important part of balancing work and school: you. Working full-time and attending school at nights and on weekends can be very strenuous, especially if you’re not taking care of yourself. In addition to eating well-balanced meals, get the amount of sleep you need to function fully. Use your PTO days at work wisely, opting to take two days off around midterms and finals rather than a week in paradise with your friends. If the strain is too much, consider a lighter class load. It may take a little longer to graduate, but your sanity and health are priority number one. Going to graduate school can help propel you in the workplace, creating both professional and financial benefits. All it costs is a few years of hard work, motivation and prioritizing. You’ll find, like most graduate students do, that the time flies and the payoff is huge.

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