One thing many folks considering graduate school wonder is how to balance the rigor of coursework with other obligations. The truth is, graduate school is a commitment, and it will take time! However, it is possible to go to school and still have a life.
Tips for balancing graduate school with other commitments
- Have conversations – When you enroll in classes, talk with your family, coworkers and employer. Be sure to let them know you’re starting school. Hopefully, they’ll support you and work with you if needed.
- Talk to your professors – If you are juggling a lot and are feeling overwhelmed, your professors can’t help you if they don’t know you’re struggling. Time and time again, ATU professors show they are willing to help and encourage students so don’t be afraid to communicate your needs!
- Get Organized – Your first semester will be a transition, regardless of whether you’re coming straight from your undergraduate program or you have been working for a while. Be sure to get started early so you allow yourself plenty of time to complete assignments.
- Set a Schedule – If you’re working while in graduate school, scheduling is critical. Try setting a regular study schedule to help you maintain balance. For example, you might decide that Tuesday nights you will take exams, you will read a bit each night, and you will write papers on Sunday afternoons. Whatever you decide works best for you – try making a plan and sticking to it.
- Make Time for Friends and Family – Whether it’s pizza on Friday nights or Sunday brunch, make sure that you schedule a time to connect with your friends and family. That may require you to work ahead to have the necessary time to rest and relax.
- Set a designated study space – Pick a regular place that is your study space. It might be a guest bedroom, a home office or a local coffee shop. Having a specific study spot will help you get in the right mindset and will help your family to better understand when you’re studying and when you’re available.
Carrie Phillips works full time at Arkansas Tech and is taking classes part-time. Here are a few additional tips that she has to help you balance your commitments as you’re considering graduate school.