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Stay Balanced: How to Balance Family, Work and Education

Sep 30, 2010

Drawn by the potential for career advancement and increased earning power, more adults than ever are taking college classes part-time. However, some adults considering this route fear that family and work responsibilities make college attendance impossible. Read on to learn how you can achieve your academic goals without missing out on important family and work time.

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Start with a Plan

Create a weekly calendar. Before signing up for classes, take a hard look at your current schedule. Map out an entire week, fleshing out each day with the events and tasks you're currently responsible for. Include work schedules, meal times, children's activities, spousal commitments and personal activities.

Create a reasonable course schedule. After accounting for your current responsibilities, you should have a good idea of how much to take on at school. When registering for classes, build a course load that fits your lifestyle. Create a flexible schedule that allows you to handle the unexpected, or take online courses that don't require a commute to campus. Keep in mind you'll need extra time for study and homework.

Set expectations. No matter how well you plan, there may be times when school has to take precedence over your home or work life. Discuss this issue with family members and colleagues, and let them know how they can help you be successful.

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Making It Work

Schedule regular check-ins. Once school is in session, check in with family members and colleagues at least once each week or as much as needed. Discuss upcoming events and any schedule adjustments you might have to make. Communicating with those around you is a sure way to reduce anxiety and solve any potential scheduling challenges.

Take time for yourself. With work, family and school responsibilities, it's easy to forget about your personal needs. Try to schedule some time during the week just for yourself. In addition, consider your physical and mental health: a good diet, adequate sleep and regular exercise can help you maintain stamina for long work days and lengthy study sessions.

Manage your time wisely. For many adults, the key to a successful college career is balancing work, school and family obligations. Continue updating your weekly calendar with upcoming assignments and important dates. Organization, hard work and attention to detail will all help you perform your best. What's more, these habits might even allow you to complete schoolwork in advance of deadlines.

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