11 May 2015

Part-Time Postgraduate Students: Balancing Work, Life and Studies

Many working professionals are wary of taking a year or two off from their careers in order to pursue postgraduate studies full-time, even if they stand to enjoy better career prospects after graduating. Others may dread the additional financial burden that a postgraduate course would place on them – especially if they stop drawing a regular salary as full-time students. As a part-time postgraduate student, you will enjoy the best of both worlds – you can look forward to better career opportunities after graduating and will not have to worry about picking up from where you left off.

However, if not managed carefully, your studies can also upset the careful balance that you have established between work and life. 

Plan Ahead
This may seem obvious, but you’ll be surprised how easy it is to neglect proper planning when you are busy juggling multiple items on your plate. Some forward planning will give you a clearer picture of the tasks or assignments you need to complete and their respective time frames. With a clear plan in mind, you will be able to manage your time more effectively and work more efficiently.

Your university will probably provide you with a schedule of your assignments and required reading, and you can use this as a starting framework to organise your time. This will also help you feel more organised, which will prove invaluable when your workload really starts to pile up. In addition, you can speak to your employer about taking time off from work during the more hectic parts of your course – job flexibility and the understanding of your employer can go a long way towards helping you lighten your burden.

The Internet is Your Best Friend
Full-time postgraduate students will have the time to visit the school library or consult their professors, but you will probably lack the luxury of time to do these things. Make full use of your university’s online library and digital catalogues of electronic journals and research papers. This will allow you to access the necessary literature from your home instead of taking what could be a time-consuming trip to the school library.

Learn to fully utilise online resources like JSTOR to Project MUSE. Many universities grant their students free access to academic databases, and you should find out how to gain access as a student of the university. By becoming adept at teasing out the most relevant information from massive online databases, you could save yourself a lot of time when it comes to studying and completing your assignments. And when you have to juggle work, study and life, any help in the time management department is welcome.

Take Time to Rest
Finally, remember that having a busy schedule does not mean that you should forego the time you spend with family and friends altogether. It’s entirely possible to hold down a full-time job, study part-time and still keep up with those who matter.

Of course, certain sacrifices will need to be made. You’ll have less time to be idle, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take time to rest and recharge. It’s not productive to bury yourself entirely in your work and studies, and a night out with friends can do wonders for your motivation and energy levels.

There will be many things you want to do and too little time, which is why you’ll need to be clear about your priorities and act accordingly. Your discipline, commitment and focus will be the qualities that see you through to your graduation day, while also ensuring that you have the time to fulfil your responsibilities and still have time for yourself.