How To Balance Graduate School & A Full-Time Job

The idea of going back to graduate school is something that a lot of people consider often. Sometimes, you’re fresh out of undergrad and you need more of a direction for your career, other times it’s a way to get you that promotion. Something that almost all grad students have in common is that they have a job. Whether it’s a night job, a part-time job, a full-time job or a freelance job, it is important to strike a balance when attending grad school and continuing to work.

Here are some tips to figure out if grad school if a good option for you while keeping your job.

Going back to school may not be worth it.

Start thinking about your options. A lot of times, college grads jump back into school because they know nothing else. However, the more you network on your own, the less grad school seems necessary. Grad school is almost like a private network that is given to you if you attend and put in the minimal effort, which is great. However, it’s also very expensive. Sometimes, companies value experience much higher than a graduate degree.

Do your research ahead of time.

If you have your heart set on a specific school or program-fine. However, I find it best to apply to many schools and many different programs. In my experience, I applied to both healthcare administration and education programs and various schools because these were the two subject areas I liked. As time went on, I became more satisfied in my choice to apply to both programs. I was originally set on educations but became more open-minded to the idea of the healthcare administration masters program. I heard back from a top school in my area for healthcare and ended up being accepted. Now, I couldn’t even imagine choosing a different school, a different program or a different profession. So always keep an open mind!

Being prepared will seriously help you in the long run.

Once you’re set on a school and program, it’s time to get prepared. I’m talking prepared in terms of finances, syllabi, assignments, readings, textbooks, etc. Making sure that everything is handled as it comes to you is the most important thing. If you let it sit and linger, it won’t be easy to deal with when you’re coming home after your 9-5 workday and it’s at the bottom of the to-do pile. As soon as you get your syllabi, organize it in a calendar; make sure you know when things are due. The weeks go so fast when you have a full-time job that planning ahead is really key.

DO NOT slack.

If you have a lighter week at work and you see that your four classes have midterms all in the same week, do every assignment up until midterms. It will catch up to you when you sit back and wait for it all to hit you. Why do that when you know what’s coming? Take advantage because your time is precious and light weeks are far and few in between. I once did two midterm papers within the first couple weeks of school. When midterms came around, everyone else was super stressed but I felt so much better that I could spend more time focusing on the other two.

Any little bit helps.

Even if it’s just getting ahead by one assignment each week. Even if it’s near the end of the semester and you have some extra time to start studying for that last final- DO IT. Don’t give up because every minute you put in really does count.

Enjoy it while you can!

Even though it’s a rough go, it’s so much fun and it’s a great way to continue being productive while not actually thinking about work. I found myself excited to go to class after a long day at work because it was something I was genuinely interested in and I eventually made a whole bunch of friends who I could share my struggle with. Everyone in your program is most likely going through something similar so use them as study buddies, friends, and connections for your growing network!


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