Down And Dirty Tips On How To Survive Grad School (Or Undergrad) While Working Full-Time


Books stacked on a desk with letters jumping out of the pages.
You are balancing a stack of delicate, china tea cups in one hand and a stack of wine glasses in the other while trying to navigate the oh-so-thin rope taking you from Sunday to Saturday. Add a stack of plates on top of your head to represent family and home life.  This is how I feel when I am working full-time and working toward a degree. I worked full-time while earning my undergrad and my master’s. I’m doing it again as I work on my second master’s. Working full-time and taking classes is not impossible. Instead it is all about time management and planning.

Rebecca’s down and dirty tips on how to survive grad school (or undergrad) while working full-time:

  1. Planning:

It all comes down to having a plan in place. And the first place to start planning is the calendar. Review your calendar when registering for classes – Are there any family or work events that will conflict with the course? If so, you might want to check with the professor to make sure you can miss the specific class dates. From my experience, most professors are willing to work with you, but it is always better to talk to them ahead of time.

  1. Time management:

Along the same lines as planning, is providing the space to schedule your homework hours. One of the best ways to do this is to look at the assignment dates on the syllabus and write down in the margins of the syllabus when you are going to start working on the assignments. Some people like to put these dates in their calendar (physical or electronic), but I prefer to just write in the syllabus, because it is a document I’m always looking at throughout the class. This scheduling dates to start (and finish) an assignment has saved my life. I am able to plan ahead and make sure I give myself enough time in the week for work, family, and homework. (I also write business trips, family trips, or other big events in the margins of the syllabus to correspond with certain dates and assignments so I can view it all at one glance).

  1. Block out some time to meet with a friend:

This may seem like it doesn’t fit in with surviving school, but you will need some encouragement along the way and what better people to provide that for you than your friends. Even if you only block out 30 minutes to an hour to grab coffee or go for a walk and just connect with someone outside of school and work. Trust me, it will make you feel human and know that there is a light at the end of this very long and dark tunnel. I also use school breaks as the time to schedule lunches and coffee dates with my friends.

–Rebecca Beardsall