Are you thinking of taking the leap and becoming a part time student? The decision can feel simultaneously exciting and daunting. Perhaps you have even already committed to a part time course. Whether you have a full time job, are a single parent or are just looking at obtaining a qualification that could position you in the career of your dreams, congratulations on the switch from designing your ideal life instead of just making a living. Being a part time student may seem intimidating at first but by incorporating a bit of planning, some balance, and a few support systems with the key elements highlighted below, the transition can be manageable.
Knowing how to manage your time is critical for succeeding as a part time student. Having a set period of time allocated for regular completion of assignments and studying whether it’s in the early mornings, afternoons before/after collecting the kids or evenings when you return home from work, ensures that you will get the task done. If your schedule varies from day to day, map out a weekly calendar to ensure that you find times around your commitments and planned activities. Keep revision material on hand at all times whether its stored electronically on your ipad, cellphone, notes or summaries for moments when you manage to find unexpected, additional free time within the day so that no matter where you are you can stay on track with your course material. If you’re already on track with your studies then get ahead on the next module’s notes, so that you have some extra time over the weekend for social plans and “me-time”.
If you want to work at a consistent rate for an extended period of time without burning out, then you need balance. Balance ensures that you can manage your stress and have quality time with friends and family while expanding your perspective on what it is that you’re working towards or looking to improve as a part time student. Balance is also about looking after yourself, this means exercise, eating healthily (not just quick fix meals and junk food to fit around work and studying) and even if you feel too low energy to physically go out and engage in social plans feel free to stay in and watch a movie, listen to music or even read non study related books to stimulate your imagination while giving your mind a break from processing facts and information.
Remember and consistently review the reasons why you are doing the course when the workload feels challenging, your social life feels compromised or you need a motivational kickstart to keep you on track and in the zone. Something as simple as writing a note to yourself about your study related goals and putting it on your fridge and noticeboard or keeping a picture of the end goal that you desire taped somewhere that you can constantly see it will reinforce your reasons for part time study and keep you excited and inspired which in turn will compel you to follow through on your studies.
Let the people in your life know what you are up to. This includes family and friends so that they don’t take offense or feel neglected. Communication can avoid negativity when you are not attending as many social engagements as you were previously. If possible, let your manager or employer know that you have started part time studies. If you sense that they may feel like your attention will be split and possibly make you less effective as an employee then remind them that expanding your skills and knowledge will mentally stimulate you to perform even better on your tasks long term and can make you an even greater asset to the organisation. Juggling your personal commitments, social engagements, job and family can be more easily managed with the help of electronic support systems at your fingertips like the 135list task management app, e-learning platforms which can supplement your studies like the MasterPass system and 24/7 tutor support like the ERA app which also includes monthly group tutorials prior to tests or exams to give you that extra boost.
If you are already in the industry for which you are advancing your learning then keep in mind that you already have the work experience so your studies will spearhead your development within your organisation. The part time students in your class will tend to be more mature as they too have jobs or might currently be in an industry that you would like to break into so network as much as possible and most importantly enjoy the privilege and the process of the learning experience.