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Juggling an Online Degree and Working Full-Time

By Kristie Janeway Jernigan, BS, MHA
East Tennessee State University and University of Phoenix Graduate

Working full-time while getting an online degree can be a challenge. To complete the goal of finishing your degree while working, you must be both organized and motivated. You must use scheduling techniques and carve out a quiet place to work on your school studies. It may require a team effort. You may need to rely on family, friends, or co-workers from time to time. Learning how to balance work and your online studies is a critical part of achieving your goals.

Pick a Place

Pick a space in your home to do your studies. It should be a quiet place with few distractions and should have a desk or table where you can work. Since you are attending an online school, you should have a place to keep paperwork, such as print-offs of online books and research for projects. You will need to have a few drawers in the desk set aside just for this information because it can quickly overpower the top of your desk. Organize your desk where you are planning to do your school work. Make sure you have everything that you're going to need to get your work done. Keep reference books, pens, pencils and notebooks for taking notes nearby. Have a computer at the desk or a place for your laptop. Also, be sure to put a printer near your desk so you can minimize your running back and forth to grab items off the printer.

Avoid Burning Out

When you are working full-time and attending an online school, you can get burned out really fast. The number one suggestion I have is to take time for you. Take a few minutes on the weekend to do something you want. Even if it is just a few minutes of quiet time each day, it can be a sanity saver. You are going to need to rely on family and friends to pick up the slack and help out at times.


Utilizing a few organizational techniques can go a long way toward keeping you on track. Using a student assignment notebook or a calendar to write down your assignments is a great way to keep tabs on what is due and what is coming up. Organize folders labeled with the individual assignments that you are working on because you may be working on more than one assignment at a time.


Schedule your study time as much as possible. It's true that you may not always be able to or even feel like staying on the schedule, but scheduling study time helps you manage better. Also, online schools commonly have rules about attending class and participating in class discussions. So, for example, dedicating time for participating in these activities can be essential. Who knows, you may even find that you like having the schedule because it helps you keep up with your assignments and projects that are due.

Talk to the Boss

Many people have to work long hours and have a hard time finding time to attend school. You may need to have a frank discussion with your boss about your educational goals and ask for a little help. Not only will it help your boss see that this is important to you, it will also help your boss understand that your achievement may actually benefit the company. Also, most bosses enjoy feel needed, and you may need to pick your boss's brain about a concept or idea to complete one of your online assignments. This can also be a great way of getting your boss on board with your goal of completing your online degree.

If you are trying to complete your online degree while working full-time you are going to need to work and think smarter. Using some scheduling and organizational techniques can help you achieve your goals much more efficiently while keeping the stress levels down. Remember, it is a goal that can be achieved with a little extra work.

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