October is National Work and Family Month, which promotes the flexibility necessary to balance raising a family with full-time employment.
But what about adding education to the mix? Though working, parenting and studying might seem like a daunting prospect, it is possible to strike a balance and finish your degree while taking care of your family and earning an income.
Take it from Christopher Moore, a student in Georgia State University’s M.A. in Digital Media Strategies Program. Moore already enjoys a successful career as a video director and producer for Georgia Tech Research Institute, but he is a self-proclaimed lifelong learner who is always seeking the next opportunity to gain new knowledge and skills.
“I have a love of education, so I will forever be taking classes,” Moore said. “But this particular program was really interesting to me, and I wanted to expand my communications background.”
Moore is also a married father of three children – a 20-year-old, 8-year-old and 5-year-old. Though Moore is an on-campus student, his tips for maintaining work-life balance while completing a degree apply for online students as well.
1. Create a schedule.
Moore’s first piece of advice to parents looking to earn their degree is simple.
“Schedule, schedule, schedule,” Moore said. “It’s important to stay organized and do a lot of pre-planning. Plan things early and realize that you can’t do everything. I think people get overwhelmed when they just try to do so much.”
Moore’s typical day includes waking up early to exercise and help his wife get their younger children ready for school. He then heads to work at Georgia Tech and utilizes his lunch break to complete coursework.
After work, he and his wife collaborate to pick up their children from school, make dinner and put their children to bed. Moore uses the remaining time in the evening to study and complete assignments.
Though every day doesn’t look exactly the same, Moore has found that keeping a schedule has helped him stay on track.
2. Establish your priorities, and write them down.
Recalling advice that he received from his father, Moore shared the wisdom that a short pencil will always beat a long memory.
Writing your priorities down will help you visualize your goals and be intentional about your time.
Whether you take the time to write out your weekly schedule or to evaluate your availability for a social event, keeping a written record will help you remember your next steps.
3. Take breaks.
Though raising children while earning a degree means that parents are often short on free time, Moore advises that breaks are necessary for long-term success.
“It's important to squeeze in some personal time so that you can relax, recover and get some rest,” Moore said.
While binge watching an entire TV series might not be on the docket for busy parents who are taking courses, carving out a little time to unwind can benefit both your mental health and productivity.
4. Be patient with yourself.
Juggling work, school and family isn’t easy, so those who choose this path need to practice patience.
“Give yourself some grace and don’t get discouraged if things don’t work out 100 percent of the time,” Moore said.
Life as a student, parent and professional rarely goes as planned. It won’t be possible to do everything perfectly, but it is always possible to make progress toward your goals.
5. Don’t wait to get started.
Moore’s final tip is perhaps his most significant. He recommends that those who are interested in pursuing a degree don’t delay in applying for their program of choice, even if they’re busy with work and parenting.
“Don't let time constraints keep you from applying to school and going to school,because that first step will help you,” Moore said. “If you take the time to get the application done, you’ve completed the hardest part.”
If you’re ready to take the next step in your education, you’ll find the supportive environment you need to succeed at Georgia State. Whether you choose an online or on-campus degree, the faculty and staff here will work with you to make your goals a reality.
To learn more about our flexible online options and start your application, talk to an enrollment coach today.