How to balance your career with an online program

How to balance your career with an online program

The decision to enroll in a master’s program to earn an advanced degree in education is not an easy choice, especially for teachers with a full-time workload. In 2011, there were 4.1 million graduate students in the U.S., 82 percent of whom also worked while earning a degree, according to the United States Census Bureau.

There’s a delicate balance to juggling the two responsibilities, which are each equally important. Here are some steps teachers can take to maintain a strong level of harmony between their work and educational obligations:

Do some research

Before teachers start worrying about time management, they need to select a program that fits their needs and abilities. When completing research, educators should look into factors including accreditation, state restrictions, cost and curriculum before making their final selection. Working professionals should also find coursework designed specifically for them, according to The Balance.

Schools like the University of Cincinnati offer an online master’s degree in education that enables full-time educators to complete their classes on their own time – whether that’s after school hours or on the weekends. This means students in this program can complete their coursework according to their personal and professional schedule. Many earn their degree in as little as two years.

Communicate with your employer

Studying for a master’s degree will require additional focus and time on teachers’ behalf. To ensure work-related tasks are being taken care of appropriately, it may be smart for teachers to be transparent with administrators and principals about their education. Focusing on communication will help graduate students find a level of flexibility that will work for their employer and their educational and personal needs.

Since this advanced degree makes teachers even more valuable to the institutions they work for and the children they teach, educators may be surprised by support they receive from friends, family members and co-workers. At the end of the day, being open with employers can only help.

Track your time

The schedule will look different for each student juggling both work and education. Yet, tracking their time before starting a new degree program can help educators understand their current – and future – schedule prior to adding in necessary coursework, according to the American Psychological Association. Auditing various daily activities – even things like cooking dinner or meeting up with friends – will aid teachers in accounting for the time they’ll need to finish the tasks associated with their online classes.

Students can better forecast their schedule by taking a week to track their time initially. This testing period can help them formulate a strong work-life balance they can use once their classes are in full swing. Once they figure out how they use minutes and hours of the day, teachers can then reprioritize their tasks to introduce educational responsibilities. The ability to be flexible with one’s daily regimen will assist master’s learners when out-of-the-blue work or school obligations arise. In addition to keeping a daily schedule, students should consider introducing a monthly calendar. This action will help educators keep track of project due dates and long-term goals so reprioritizing tasks is that much easier.

How to balance your career with an online program

Find a support system

It can be challenging for teachers to go it alone when studying for an advanced degree and working full-time. Educators can gain a lot from locating and leaning on a support system – whether that includes friends, family or fellow teachers. Asking for assistance may be difficult for many to do, but aid may be necessary in order to juggle work and educational responsibilities successfully.

Family members may be able to drop off or pick up the kids from school so teachers can spend extra time studying, while school colleagues could act as emotional support when master’s students feel overwhelmed in the workplace.

The University of Cincinnati’s online master’s in education program considers student support to be one of its most effective facets. Each master’s learner has his or her own enrollment advisor and program manager, as well as access to understanding and helpful faculty and staff.

Discover time drainers

Every student has certain things that pull him or her away from the task at hand. To ensure teachers earning an advanced degree stay focused and on track, educators should attempt to figure out what causes distractions, and reduce their impact throughout the course of the day – especially when more important activities are the priority.

Whether it’s social media profiles, text messages or interruptions from friends, family or their children, teachers should develop strategies to keep these interferences to a minimum. This may mean turning off notifications or phone ringers as well as studying in the library instead of their home. Each educator will find the tactic that works best for their educational productivity.

Limit email during study sessions

Teachers utilize their email to communicate with various parties, whether it’s their fellow teachers, parents of their students or school leaders. As such, inboxes can quickly become filled with messages that demand various types of attention. The National Education Association recommended that people studying for their master’s degree in education limit how much they check their email and respond to its contents.

When looking through their messages, teachers should scan for ones with critical issues and respond as needed. All of the other emails can wait until a later time. Educators could even carve out a few minutes before or after their coursework to answer these less-urgent communications.

This quick scanning could also apply to grading students’ assignments. Since some activities are exercises to reiterate concepts to learners, teachers can maximize their time by marking assessments by status of completion or with a check mark or smiley face to show progress or level of understanding.

Don’t forget to de-stress

Maintaining strong mental and physical health is crucial to educational success when balancing work and life priorities, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Graduate-level students need to be sure that they are taking an appropriate amount of time for their basic needs, including getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet and exercising, Mental Health America recommends. Additionally, educators need to develop helpful strategies for the times when they’re feeling overwhelmed with their commitments. This could mean meeting up to talk with a friend, meditation or going for a short walk to break up the day. According to a study published in the journal Cognition, brief diversions from the work at hand can dramatically improve a person’s focus and overall productivity.

The University of Cincinnati’s master’s in education program offers working professionals online coursework designed so students can maintain their career while earning an advanced degree.


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