Career Development

The Balancing Act: Tips for Returning to Grad School for the Working Professional

Is your first degree not getting you as far as you expected? Thinking of going to grad school but don’t know how you’ll balance it with your career? The truth is, there are going to be some peaks and valleys along the way – especially for those who have been out of school for a while. However, that’s no reason to put off your educational goals. Learning a few tricks and staying on top of your game can help you easily balance school and work without an issue. Here are a few tips to get you started:

1.  Do Your Research

Before applying to any graduate school it is important to do your due diligence. Check out the various programs offered to ensure that they align with your overall career goals. It may also be important to consider the location of the school, a tip for working professionals would be to find a school that is located near your home or office for an easy and fast commute. Also research various schools to see the types of schedules they offer working professionals. You may decide that taking online courses, going on the part time basis, or even taking a few weekend courses might be in your best interest. You may have to look beyond the school’s website for this information. Talk with current students or alumni to get a better idea of what you can expect.

2.  Plan Ahead

Determine what the application process is for grad school ahead of time. Any key milestones that need to be completed should be marked on a calendar (or stored in your phone’s calendar) so that you don’t forget. You should also assess whether you need to prepare for any entrance examinations as many grad schools require this from their applicants. If this is the case, you will want to find resources such as an online prep class to refresh your memory. Keep a track of the test dates, application deadlines, and even set up deadlines for completing your essay, retrieving your transcripts, and letters of recommendation. Give yourself room for error to prevent stressing at the last minute.

3.  Gather a Support System

Once your application has been submitted it will become important to gather a support system to help you through your educational journey. You will need people from all aspects of your life including friends and family members that can help out with the kids, fellow students that can help you study and even support in the workplace by linking up with other professionals who are also balancing work and school. This support will prove invaluable as you continue to obtain your degree.

4.  Technology is Your Friend

To help you out along the way it is imperative that you look into various technological resources for college students. There are a lot of different technologies that can help to make your life a lot easier to manage. From note taking apps to schedules, there are sure to be applications that you can use to your advantage. Check out online reviews to see which apps are best, or better yet, ask some of your fellow classmates which technical tools they simply can’t live without.

5.  Reward Yourself

Last but not least, remember to reward yourself as you continue on a journey to self improvement. As things become challenging, keep your eye on the prize and remind yourself of why you wanted to go back to school in the first place. Set small goals and milestones and as you accomplish them, reward yourself so that you stay motivated to continue on.

Juggling it all will certainly be one of the biggest challenges you face, but with research, planning, and preparation, you are sure to excel in your continued studies. The true reward is often discovered after you’ve completed it all and you can look back at how far you’ve come.

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