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How to Overcome the Challenges of Balancing Work, Home, Family—and School

September 14, 2016

Adult students are returning to higher education institutions to earn degrees and professional certifications at a record pace. If you’re one of them, you’re likely to face some unique challenges related to balancing your studies with work, home, and family obligations. Here are some pointers to help you overcome them:

  1. Research before you commit to a program. When you’re a younger student, you can usually choose your college on the basis of the degree program and financial support offered. The selection criteria need to change when you’re an adult to incorporate other key factors such as accessibility, flexibility, and the ability to transfer of credits.
  2. Ask for guidance. If you’ve been away from school for a while, it’s very likely that the way higher education works these days is drastically different than you remember. As such, don’t be shy about asking for help when you are struggling—whether it is related to your academic work, technology, or career planning.
  3. Create a routine. If you work and/or have kids, you’re probably pretty adept at juggling many things at once. Adding coursework to your already heavy load can seem overwhelming. That’s why creating a routine that blocks out specific times at regular intervals to get school work done is essential.
  4. Work in downtime. Going back to school is a real commitment, especially when you have a lot of other obligations in your life. It’s important to cut yourself some slack when possible and not to overschedule your time. This will help avoid running yourself ragged and jeopardizing your success. Try to work in some downtime for at least one relaxing activity each day.
  5. Reward yourself. Going back to school as an adult is an accomplishment that you should be proud of—it’s also a lot of hard work. That’s why waiting until you graduate to reward yourself is a mistake. You can boost your productivity and motivation by rewarding yourself periodically throughout your time at school.

Pursuing higher education at any age is well worth the effort. While doing so when you’re a working adult adds a new set of challenges to the equation, the above tips can help you keep on track and successfully reach your educational goals.

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