If you’re considering postgraduate study online, you might be wondering how to balance your desire for professional development and your personal life. After all, it’s not like you sit around after work wondering what to do with your time! It is possible to complete a postgraduate degree while you continue working – and the good news is, you don’t have to become a stranger to your family and friends to succeed.
Follow these tips to find the balance that works for you:
1. Reward yourself
By embarking on a postgraduate degree, you will be making a significant intellectual commitment, so give yourself a high five! And don’t stop there – schedule regular rewards during your student life that will keep you motivated. Book a massage when you’ve completed an assignment. Schedule a special dinner with family and friends for the end of the semester. Buy yourself a special pen and notepad for each new course. Be sure to acknowledge the sacrifices you make and the effort you put in.
2. Take stock of your life
Have you ever audited your time? Grab a notebook, or your phone and note down how long you spend in each daily activity, such as commuting, working and watching Netflix. You might find that you’re not getting as much value out of your time as you could. You don’t have to give up on Netflix completely, but you may be able to carve out some of that time to study. And instead of spending an extra hour at work, reclaim that time for your own benefit.
3. Blend your study with work
Your postgraduate study is likely to be related to the work you are doing now – in fact, it’s likely to be beneficial to your employer – so make the most of it for the ultimate student work-life balance. Put your fresh learnings into practice immediately for some real-world feedback. Apply your research to the place where you work, then present your findings to your team and managers. Your boss may also be able to assist with study resources, or even give you some time off for your studies.
4. Tap into your support network
Online study poses a lot of questions and at Edith Cowan University (ECU), Student Support Advisors are the brains-trust who answer them. Whether you’re setting a study schedule, curious about course content, or wondering if you can take holidays while studying – Student Support Advisors have the answers. Just before you begin your course, they’ll reach out to you on the phone, email or online chat. Then they’ll be by your side, cheering you on (and answering your questions) until you graduate.
5. Embrace your postgraduate community
You are not alone. About half of all students in postgraduate studies are doing it part-time while they continue to work throughout their degrees. You can reach out to your peers online to discuss the subject you’re working on, research you’re conducting, or to get some more tips on how to balance your studies and personal life. In addition to understanding what you are going through as a part-time student, your postgraduate community is a great place to network and create professional connections.
6. Make a plan
It’s often been said that ‘those who fail to plan, plan to fail’. Rather than trying to unravel the logic in this maxim, just make a plan. In fact, make lots of plans. Start with a helicopter view of your postgraduate degree and map out what you will be doing over the next couple of years. Then make a plan for the year and include all of your personal and family plans, alongside your study requirements. Break down your year into study units, then months and weeks. You may be surprised by how little time you have, but going through this process will help make sure you have enough time for the things that matter.
7. Tell your family, friends and your boss
Postgraduate study doesn’t require you to put your life on hold. But as your planning has revealed, time is limited, and you’ll need to prioritise. Ask your family and friends to give you plenty of notice for social events and to be understanding when you are unavailable. Tell your boss about your studies and let them know when you’ll be unavailable for extra shifts or overtime. And keep them all informed of your progress, so they can share in the high fives!
8. Choose a course that fits into your life
Going to uni does not actually require you to physically go to uni. ECU’s accelerated online postgraduate courses are designed to suit your current lifestyle, so you won’t have to make time to go to on-campus classes. In addition to saving you time, this type of student life enables you to study at a time and location that is right for you. Learning materials are always accessible and available in bite-sized blocks, so you can plan and complete your studies in your own time.
9. Don’t be afraid to take a break
Even when you’ve made a plan, student work-life balance can occasionally get out of control. Warning signs include setting the alarm a bit earlier, going to bed a bit later and waking up with your head on your laptop, drooling into the keyboard. Seriously though, burnout is a real risk. So, when student life gets the better of you, check in with your Student Success Advisor, as well as your boss and your family. Give yourself a break and a chance to reset the work-life balance.
10. Enjoy yourself
Studying at university is one of the most inspiring things you can do, so give yourself the chance to get the best out of your student life by taking advantage of all the facilities and services your university offers. For instance, you can tap into the university library which gives you online access to books, journals and so much more. You’ll sharpen your existing knowledge while expanding your mind with new information and learn about the latest trends. But most of all, enjoy yourself. Find your tribe and build a network with your postgraduate peers and indulge in all that university life offers.
Find out more about how online postgraduate study can fit into your life, call our Student Enrollment Advisors today on 1300 707 760. We offer programs in Master of Cyber Security and Master of Education.