Balancing act: how to manage work, family and school

PIT-BalancingAct_IMAGE-0421Article Written By Magaly Olivero

An educational institution that understands the needs of students who must balance work, family and school can make a big difference when you’re trying to earn a degree. Such schools offer practical and emotional support.

This comes as an increasing number of people go back to school full or part-time as a way to advance their careers. By 2020, adults older than 25 will be make up 45% of the national student body, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. That’s an increase of seven percentage points from current levels.

But many of these older students and even those closer to the traditional age must support themselves and family. They face difficult juggling acts on a daily basis.

The thought of adding schoolwork to an already long list of responsibilities at the office and at home may seem daunting. A school that allocates resources to help students manage their lives can ensure someone completes their studies.

The end effect: Broadening your educational credentials – whether you’re pursuing a degree for the first time or going back to school for more training – can increase your odds of getting a raise or promotion. Earning a degree can also provide the advanced skills and confidence to find a more professionally rewarding and better paying position at another company.

Here are a few factors to keep in mind if you’re trying to manage work, family and school.

You are not alone
The National Center for Education Statistics’ data underscores a truth: Lots of working adults go back to school or become college students for the first time. Some will be looking to learn new skills to help with their present careers. Others will be looking to start a new profession.

Look for flexibility
Many colleges are tailoring their degree programs to accommodate the needs of busy adults with family and professional duties. Look for a college with programs that have online classes and flexible scheduling with evening and weekend classes. You may want to start off with an associate’s degree program, many of which are geared to students with hectic lives. Associate’s degree program can be completed in two years and typically cost less than a four-year degree. This can be an important consideration for a working student.

Tap all available resources
Find a college with qualified counselors who can offer personalized support, advice and perspective to help you balance all the demands in your life. Speak with a representative from the financial aid department to determine if you’re eligible for assistance. Find ways to manage your time more effectively – a skill that’s important for academic and professional success.

Ask your family to pitch in
By honest with yourself and your family by setting realistic goals and re-evaluating your commitments. Family members may need to temporarily pitch in a bit more at home. Remind them that the sacrifices made now will pay off in the long run when you land a better paying position – a move that benefits the entire family.