Returning to school as a working professional is far different than attending school full-time. You already have a jam-packed schedule, balancing your job, family life, and social commitments, and now you have to add school into the mix. It means managing the coursework, making time to study, and staying involved in school activities – not to mention figuring out how to finance it all.
And if you’re a nurse, you have the additional challenge of juggling emergency clinical shifts and field placements, applying what you learn in the classroom to patient care, and conforming to the requirements of the nurse regulatory body along with a specialized degree program.
So, how do you make it all work? How do you manage to stay focused when your schedule gets full?
How do you find the energy and motivation to study when exhausted? How do you maintain your sanity when you’re juggling all of these responsibilities?
The key is finding a way to make learning fit into your life and managing your time efficiently. Here are some vital tips to help you remain focused and meet success in school and your professional career.
1. Enroll In an Online Degree Program
As much as you’d like to be in the classroom and get a college degree in person, it’s only sometimes feasible. Otherwise, you’ll have to take a chunk out of your schedule and give up commitments to make it work, especially if you belong to the nursing field.
As a nurse, enrolling in the accelerated RN to BSN accredited online programs is an excellent way to get the degree you need without sacrificing your job and other responsibilities. You’ll have the flexibility to learn wherever or whenever and complete assignments on a flexible schedule. Plus, you’ll have access to all the necessary materials online and can get help from your professor whenever you need it.
These programs also help with professional development and in-depth training in nursing areas like informatics, leadership, and work ethics. You’ll find that the curriculum is well-structured and comprehensive, allowing you to pursue a successful career as an RN with a BSN degree.
2. Keep Track of All Deadlines
An efficient system for tracking deadlines can help you remain on top of your work in the office and school. Start by keeping a physical or digital calendar with all your deadlines and reminders. Or set up reminders on your phone or computer to help you remember important dates.
Additionally, establish a routine for completing tasks and assignments so you can do everything promptly. For instance, you can set aside certain days for studying and a specific amount of time each day or week to work on school assignments. When approaching big deadlines, break them down into smaller and more manageable tasks that must be completed within the given time frame. Ensure your supervisor or professor knows you’re pursuing a degree to get some leeway with deadlines if needed.
3. View School and Work as Separate Entities
Many working professionals struggle to balance their professional and academic lives, which can cause stress if not managed properly. To keep the two separate, have different routines and locations for each.
For example, if you work out of an office during the week, set aside your home as a dedicated weekend study space. When studying, keep work-related items out of view so that your focus can remain on your academic tasks. Similarly, try to focus solely on your job and leave any school-related worries at the door when you are at work.
Creating boundaries between work and school will allow you to avoid feeling overwhelmed and enjoy success in both.
4. Find Your Unique Learning Style
Every student learns differently. Some prefer reading notes or textbooks, while others learn best through hands-on experience. Identifying your preferred learning style will help you maximize efficiency and stay focused during your study sessions.
You can experiment with different techniques, such as studying with friends, taking notes, doing practice questions, or writing summaries to identify what works best for you.
Besides, practice self-reflection and track what works and doesn’t when studying. It will allow you to adjust your approach based on your learning style.
Bonus Tip: Tailor your study sessions to the specific subject material. Some materials may require more repetition and practice, while others need more detailed analysis and understanding. It will help you better understand which approach works best for each subject.
5. Figure Out Your Finances
School is expensive, and managing your finances can be tricky. As a working professional, you know the importance of budgeting and managing money wisely. The same applies to your education: make sure you set a budget for what you can afford. Some universities offer tuition payment plans, so research those options to see if they work for you. Additionally, apply for scholarships and grants that may help offset the cost of your tuition.
Lastly, consider taking on student loans if you need additional funds, but be sure to read the fine print regarding repayment plans. Make sure you know what kind of repayment terms each loan has so that you can make the best decision for your financial future.
If you’re already in debt, avoid taking on more debt if possible. Instead, look into ways to consolidate your existing loans or find a way to pay off the debt sooner rather than later.
6. Practice Self-Care
You may see “self-care” as a buzzword, but it is essential in managing your stress levels and overall well-being. It also aids in boosting productivity and motivation. Besides, taking some “me time” also keeps you happy, energized, and relaxed. You’ll also better manage your school and career responsibilities when you take care of yourself first.
A few ways to practice self-care include:
- Eating nutritious meals and snacks
- Getting enough sleep
- Exercising regularly
- Taking breaks throughout the day
- Spending time with loved ones
You can also try other self-care ideas to improve your mood, health, and wellness.
Whether you’re looking to grow your skill set, advance in your current role, better understand your chosen field, or create new job opportunities, returning to school can help you achieve those goals. While it may initially seem overwhelming, proper preparation can make the process easier. Enroll in an online program to save time and money. Keep track of all your assignments and due dates in advance for an organized and stress-free school experience. Finding your unique learning style, balancing work and school life, and practicing self-care are other vital tips to make going back to school as smooth as possible and help you set yourself up for success.