College degree completion for adults juggling both work and school is easier when you are organized. An adult learner who has been out of a school environment for several years will be challenged, especially if they also have family responsibilities. Here are some great tips to smooth out the process.
1. Have a Written Schedule for Everything
If you are planning to finish your degree between your work hours and family responsibilities, then you need a written schedule. Not only do you need to have a schedule posted inside your home for you, but also, it helps your family to understand when you will be studying. This schedule should list your study times, the dates when you are taking exams, as well as the schedule for any online courses you are taking. Don’t forget to schedule in some fun activities as well – such as a movie with friends, a trip to the park, and special dates.
2. Streamline Your Home Environment
As an adult with numerous responsibilities, you don’t have a lot of time for home maintenance and cleaning chores. Before heading back to the books, make sure to streamline your home by getting rid of excess clutter. Create chore charts for you and your kids. Organize your bedroom closets and kitchen pantry to make it faster to get dressed in the morning and to prepare meals.
3. Upgrade Your Computer Skills
When you have been away from school for several years, understanding modern technology can be a challenge. Twenty years ago, you needed pen, paper, and a basic knowledge of computers when you were in college. Today, you need to understand how to use computers, browsers, apps, printers, and software, especially if you are planning to use the newer non-traditional methods to finish your degree. If you are behind in your technological skills, then register for some free training classes at a local public library.
4. Look for Creative Ways to Save Money on Your College Expenses
Don’t assume that you need to pay full price for your college textbooks. Look first to buy your books used and only buy a brand new textbook when you don’t have any other choice! Instead of paying thousands of dollars for traditional college classes, take advantage of creative (and accelerated) ways to earn college credits such as CLEP and DSST exams, StraighterLine courses, and credit for prior learning. Also, create a budget to pay for your exams, online courses and textbooks by eliminating nonessential expenses such as cable television and eating out.
5. Request Help from Your Family
Discuss your educational plans with your family in order to have everyone’s cooperation while you are juggling home and school life. Degree completion for an adult learner is easier when family members are cooperating. Once your family understands how important your education is for their future, they are more likely to contribute to your success as you return to school.
6. Schedule Your Work Shifts Around Your Studies
If you are employed as a shift worker, look for ways that you can schedule your work time around your study time. If you rideshare or commute to work on public transportation, bring a textbook with you to work. Those thirty or sixty minutes of extra study time will quickly add up each week!
Returning to school as an adult is often challenging because you must work while doing your coursework. But with a little forethought and careful planning, you will set yourself up for success.