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The year was 2011. It was a warm, picturesque LA day. Just kidding…not so dramatic. 🙂
A little over 4 years ago I started my graduate school program while I was working full time. It was manageable but definitely came with its own unique sacrifices. Trust me, I’ve got numerous hours logged at the library to prove it.
I decided to write this post because I know many working adults find themselves asking the question: “Should I go back to school?”. Whether you’re planning to pursue an AA, BA, MA or any other “A”mbitious educational goal, it’s a huge decision. One of the largest roadblocks is, most likely, financing. From a professional perspective, I highly suggest that you research your options ahead of time. Every person’s financial situation is different so you want to know the assistance you can receive specific to you. In my experience working with students financing their education, I’ve seen a whole lot of “oopses”. Perhaps taking out much more than can be paid back, reaching the borrowing max, relying on student loan refund checks for survival, the laundry list could go on. Trust me, you don’t want this stress added on to the heavy demands of an academic program. So talk to a loan counselor ahead of time. Research student loan programs on your school and state websites. Also make sure to look into any tuition assistance your employer may offer.
Exhale. Now that was a mouthful!
From a personal perspective, I will share aspects relating to my experience with the second possible roadblock – time. Most working adults probably find themselves asking the question: “Do I have the time to go back to school?”. This is also unique to each person as some people may have more demanding obligations than others such as a family or a management position that requires long hours for instance. It’s all about the time you have available and how you manage it. For now I’ll share my personal experience going back to school as a single person with a 40 hour work week. However, I do have some exciting contributors that will be joining us in the coming weeks with more experience on the other more advanced challenges mentioned.
During the work week I would come home from work exhausted so the last thing I had on my mind was reading a text book or writing a paper. I barely gathered up enough energy to make it to class on the nights I had to set aside those blocks of time. So I decided to dedicate my weekends to studying. I would wake up on Saturday mornings and head to the library. The earlier the better because the evenings were reserved for fun time like date nights, dinner with friends…anything but school! On Sundays I’d typically reserve “me time” for church in the morning and get to the library later. On occasion I’d adjust the schedule if I had evening plans. Good thing I’m not a diehard football fan because I would have had to record a whole lot of Sunday games! Whew! 😉
A huge helpful factor was the accessibility of online courses. I think at one point in time people frowned a bit more on online courses because they saw it as less rigorous than the traditional classroom setting. With the growth in online learning that’s becoming less of an issue. Online classes are so convenient. I usually found myself mixing online classes with in person to help balance out the time and commute. And boy did it help in an amazing way!
Speaking of commuting (yes, the “c” word), location is vital when considering going back to school. Even though I endured countless hours commuting from work to school in total, both places were (roughly) within the same geographical location which helped. I typically had time to get dinner after work and briefly work on any pending assignments before class. For those working for employers that bring the classroom to you, consider yourselves lucky and take advantage! If there is a school that has partnered with your workplace to bring evening programs on location be sure to look into it. This way you don’t even have to leave the parking lot. Unless you’re making a dinner run for Chipotle that is! 🙂
I mentioned earlier that I have a couple of special guests that will be covering more on this topic in regards to some specific concerns and challenges. So be on the lookout for those posts. If you have any specific questions for me, based on my experience described, feel free to leave them in the comments.