The decision to enroll in an online degree program marks the beginning of an important life transition. Earning a college degree offers the chance to achieve academically, experience personal growth, and prepare for a successful career. But for those who plan on working while in college, finding time to earn a degree can seem like a daunting challenge.

The ability to juggle commitments when working while in college requires careful planning and effective time management. Attending a university that offers strong student support in all its online degree programs, from accelerated course schedules to dedicated success coaches who work with online students throughout their time in school, can make it easier.

A Growing Community of Working Students

A growing number of working adults now enroll in college. An estimated 50% of full-time college students have jobs outside of school, while 80% of part-time students have jobs, according to Mental Health America.

There are many positives to working while in school. Earning money helps pay for personal and school expenses. Depending on the job, students may make important professional connections. Those who work while in college also develop strong work skills that employers value. This can lead to higher salaries after graduation, according to research cited by U.S. News & World Report.

Money, skills, and job experience all provide benefits for working students, but the key to truly enjoying them is through finding ways to balance work and college. Doing so requires having a plan and staying with it.

Tips to Balance Work and College

Online students benefit from knowing some practical strategies that can help them strike a balance and thrive in both work and academics.

Students should first prioritize and plan, starting with a list of their most important commitments. Online students can build a realistic schedule by listing their most important commitments. They should allocate time slots for work, as they may have little control over changing them. Thanks to how online courses are designed, there’s more flexibility for academics, but students should prioritize finding consistent time to watch lectures, read course material, and do the work needed to meet deadlines.

One of the tenets of good time management is to think of the day in blocks of time. By approaching the day this way, those who work while in college can set aside sections of the day to focus on one task. Another key to good time management is to cut out distractions. That includes eliminating screen time, including social media, during blocks of the day set aside for work or school.

Students can also make use of productivity tools to schedule tasks and set reminders. Many people run their entire schedule through their smartphones.

The Importance of Self-Care

It’s important that students do not neglect self-care, so a  key component of their plan should allow them a chance to relax and rejuvenate. Students should also ensure they get sufficient sleep (eight hours a night is ideal), maintain a healthy diet, and engage in regular exercise.

It’s also important to make time to spend with friends and family, as well as to engage in hobbies, sports activities, meditation, and other activities that can help working college students unwind and reduce stress.

Building a strong support system of fellow students, mentors, family, and friends can also help students better manage the challenges of balancing work and school. Students can never do wrong by surrounding themselves with people who understand the commitments they have made and are willing to provide emotional and practical support.

How Point Park University Supports Working Students

Point Park University designs online degree programs with working adults in mind. The university offers eight-week accelerated courses and rolling admission dates. Students also take two classes per eight weeks. This allows them to focus on each course and offers an easier path to balance between work and school.

Point Park assigns each student a dedicated success coach who works with them throughout their time at the university, from their initial application through graduation. Students may find they need to take a break to balance their work and academic lives. Success coaches can assist students with filing a leave of absence and adjust their degree completion plans when they return.

Online students reap the benefits of learning from professors who have real-world experience and can help prepare them with the skills and knowledge employers want the most in job candidates. The university offers a generous credit transfer policy that can help students achieve their academic goals faster.

Point Park University offers online degree programs in a wide variety of fields, including business, healthcare, computer science, communications, criminal justice, and cybersecurity. Online degree programs are available at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels.