Continuing your education is a challenge under even the best of circumstances. Studying is time-consuming, and requires at least moderate amounts of concentration and effort. But if you’re already in full-time employment or working as a full-time mother, the thought of having to add yet another major resource drain into your schedule may seem like an impossibility. You already struggle to get everything done as it is, and you dread the thought of having to give up any of your precious, infrequent free time to anything that’s not relaxation. So how on earth are you supposed to fit school into an already packed schedule?
First of all, it helps not think of school as an obligation, or a chore that has to be dealt with. Remember, you’re going back to school because you want to, and believe it or not, learning is not supposed to be a hassle. It can actually be a lot of fun, especially if you are studying something you enjoy, which is usually the case with adult students. Psychologically, there’s a big difference between making time for something you’re looking forward to and making time for something you hate. If you continually feel dread about going to classes, perhaps it’s time to speak to a school adviser and find out what the problem is and how it can be fixed. Sometimes switching to a class at a different time, or maybe changing the focus of your studies, can have a big impact on your feelings toward your education.
When you first start dealing with the practicalities of going to school, be reasonable about your choices. Even though it is theoretically possible that you could work from 9 to 5 everyday, then go to class from 5 to 10, and then do your course work late at night, a schedule like that is going to get exhausting very quickly, and soon it’s likely that you’ll start feeling defeated and have doubts about whether or not you can complete your course. It’s tempting to want to cram as many classes in as possible so that you can get school out of the way and move onto better things, but trying to sprint through school hardly works if you end up failing most of your exams because you were too exhausted to study due to the demanding schedule. Remember that you do need free time, you do need to relax, and in the long run you will have better grades and a happier time at school if you choose a schedule that allows you to breathe a little. If that means it takes you an extra semester or two to finish, so what? School is not a race, and nothing is worth sacrificing your mental and emotional health for.
If you have a family or work as a full-time mom, make sure that your kids understand that you’re going to school, too, and that you’re going to be working on your studies just as hard as they should be working on theirs. This is actually an excellent opportunity to be a good example for the kids, because we all know they can resent having to do their homework. If you’re all in the same boat, it becomes a bonding point, and can make the hardships of school less frustrating for everyone. Perhaps the first hour after school is a good time for everyone, including you, to sit at the table and get some homework done.
There is no easy way to schedule any life, much less one that involves both work and further education, but with a bit of creative juggling and the admission that you are only human, it can be done. Keep the class load down to a reasonable level, make sure you have a good support network of friends and family, and most importantly give yourself permission to enjoy what you’re doing. Education should be rewarding, and not just after you get the diploma.