Author Topic: Tips for going to school and working full-time  (Read 2554 times)

tungu2

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Tips for going to school and working full-time
« on: July 18, 2018, 08:12:21 AM »
Hello everyone!

This fall I am starting my Master's studies while still working 40+ hour weeks. Looking for tips, advice and general encouragement.

I mostly work 10-19 (white-collar) and my commute takes up to 2 hours a day (~ 50 min one way with public transportation, which is considered good for our city).
While I don't hate my job, I always wanted to be involved in research and work in higher education.
My tuition is covered, however, no stipend or assistantship offered (they simply don't exist here).
I am not ready to give up on my current career (just in case I become disillusioned with higher ed). Because my masters program is not strictly academia-oriented, it will not look weird on my resume if I ultimately decide against switching paths.

Fortunately, the school is just 15-20 min walk from my office and my manager is OK with me shifting my hours to 9-17 and finishing stuff from home. Classes are from 18 to 21 every day. It's a top school, so the workload is not light. In addition, I will probably be behind half my classmates on statistics and math (BA is unrelated). Being a horribly disorganized procrastinator, I am scared.

Are there people who successfully managed to pull off 70-80 hours workweeks for a year (second year will have less classes)? I am not confident in my time-management skills. I also do not want to ruin my savings rate (I'll probably have less time to cook lunches etc. planning to freeze ahead a lot more). How would you stay motivated in my position?

Thanks!

P.S.  English is not my first languages, sorry about clumsy grammar.

mm1970

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Re: Tips for going to school and working full-time
« Reply #1 on: July 18, 2018, 09:20:26 AM »
How many courses will you be taking at a time?

How long will this take you?

How old are you?  Do you have family?

When I was in my mid-20's, I worked full time (8 am to 5:30 pm) during the week and went to school nights/ weekends to get a master's.

The master's degree required 10 courses.  I took 2 per semester, and finished in 2.5 years.

By the end, it was pretty brutal.  My last semester I was over it.

Generally, I'd have 3 hours of class each night, but that would be for one class.  If I had 2 classes, it would be say 3 hours on Tuesday for class #1 and 3 hours on Thursday for class #2. Some of the classes were close by, others required a 20 minute drive.  One of the classes was only offered on Saturdays, and it was 6 hours every other Saturday.  Ugh.

It sounds like these classes are accelerated - meaning class every day (is that 4 days?  5 days?)

Just grind it out, is my advice.  That's what I did.  It got pretty tiring.  With that schedule, if you fall behind in a course, talk to the prof right away.

tungu2

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Re: Tips for going to school and working full-time
« Reply #2 on: July 18, 2018, 01:39:27 PM »
How many courses will you be taking at a time?

How long will this take you?

How old are you?  Do you have family?

When I was in my mid-20's, I worked full time (8 am to 5:30 pm) during the week and went to school nights/ weekends to get a master's.

The master's degree required 10 courses.  I took 2 per semester, and finished in 2.5 years.

By the end, it was pretty brutal.  My last semester I was over it.


Thank you for sharing!

Iím in my late 20s, no family of my own yet, some family responsibilities with grandparents. No pets. Side hustle 2-5 hours a week.

Iím not in the US, so the system is a little different. There is a set timeline for 2 years. Taking longer and you lose the tuition waiver (I cannot afford paying for school). 11 courses, 2 online courses, internship and dissertation.
three semesters of classes (3 hours 5 days a week, maybe also saturday), the 4th is for internship and polishing the dissertation. With work it adds up to leaving home at 8 am and coming back to 10 pm everyday.

PoutineLover

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Re: Tips for going to school and working full-time
« Reply #3 on: July 18, 2018, 02:02:16 PM »
I didn't work quite as many hours as you, but I did go back to school while working 4 days a week. I took 2 classes a semester, 3 hours a week each, with some extra work to do like group projects and reading. It was tough, but I managed. I think if you do some batch cooking on weekends and prep food in advance, you should be able to keep up with eating well and not wasting time + money eating out. What I found is that I'm actually more efficient when I have more to do, compared to when I have huge chunks of free time, cause then I'll leave everything to the last minute. I found it very helpful to have an agenda with all my due dates, tasks, and scheduled times for readings and meetings so I stayed on top of all the work. Since you take public transit, you can probably use that time to study/read. Won't be easy, but it's definitely possible. Make sure to keep good relations with your teachers and boss so you can have some flexibility when it gets extra busy. Good luck!

Spendy Stache

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Re: Tips for going to school and working full-time
« Reply #4 on: July 18, 2018, 11:59:58 PM »
I did my MA while working full time, and a few tips that worked for me:

 -Master the art of Google calendar. As soon as you get the syllabus for the course, put all the due dates into your calendar and get used to checking it every Friday. Then spend all Saturday hammering out everything that will be due that week. Spend all Sunday running errands and meal prepping. The logistics may be different for you, but the concept works. If you know you have to work and go to class all week, you can't procrastinate on assignments.
-Be really clear with people (professors, bosses, etc) that you deal with life in week-long chunks. If people expect a week turnaround from you, you'll always have a weekend to get things done.
-If you take the bus to commute, it's a great time to get reading for class done.

I know planning on spending all weekend doing homework and all week working and then going to class doesn't sound like much of a life, but the semesters go by quickly. As for general encouragement, you can do it! Just capitalize on the ways that you work best.

Noodle

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Re: Tips for going to school and working full-time
« Reply #5 on: July 19, 2018, 06:58:25 AM »
Wow, good luck with all of it!

A few pieces of advice--right now, do everything you can to streamline your life. Get bills set up on autopay, clear junk out of your apartment to make it easy to clean, take care of any chores or maintenance you've been putting off.

Once the semester starts, concentrate on what's important--school and work. Your standards in other areas may fall off for the year. It's OK if you eat scrambled eggs every night for dinner, or a banana and yogurt every day for breakfast, or if your apartment gets kind of grimy. You mentioned not wanting to let your savings rate fall off, but if something has to give, it's not so bad to buy a frozen pizza every once in awhile, or to call a cleaning service every few months when things get gross. The key is to find the cheapest way to solve time problems with money (ie, frozen pizza, not going out to dinner).

asauer

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Re: Tips for going to school and working full-time
« Reply #6 on: July 19, 2018, 07:14:50 AM »
So, here's the thing my friend....you are not working part-time.  You're working full-time.  That's why you feel like "part-time" isn't giving you the time you thought.  I'm speaking from experience here, haha.  Add up all the time for the month that you spend at the clinic, doing fill-in work, writing articles, doing instructional design and all the admin that goes along with it (email, calls, paperwork, billing, searches etc).  I'll bet that over the month you're averaging 38-40 hrs.  It's just that the time is spread differently than when you were at a clinic full-time.  Heck, you probably ARE working less than when you were a FT vet, but I'd be willing to be you're not as part-time as you think.  I'm pointing this out to help change your mindset about how much time is available to you.  If you're still choosing to work this much, just realize there is less time for other things- which is completely fine if you're enjoying yourself.

sparkytheop

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Re: Tips for going to school and working full-time
« Reply #7 on: July 19, 2018, 07:51:29 AM »
My situation was a little different, but I figure if I can do it...

I was 21, with a 2 (3?) year old, working 30+ hours a week, and going through a 2 year college program (related to my job).  After the first year, my then-husband left, so I became a single mom on top of that.

I wish I had dropped to "survival mode" and not tried to super-excel at school (I couldn't help it, I had always been very driven, had to be top of the class, etc).  My "tips" for survival (although some is fuzzy because that was 18 years ago...)

Set up as much as you can to just be routine.  The less you have to think about the day-to-day stuff, the better.

Clothing-- wear stuff you can wash in one or two loads.  You don't want to be stuck doing loads of laundry, so minimize the wardrobe.  Who cares, no one will really notice, and if they do, invite them to do the laundry for you.  (for me, this became especially important when my washing machine died and I was stuck doing laundry in the bathtub for about 5 months.  I couldn't afford a laundromat or to replace my machine.)

Food-- batch cook if you can.  Make a large meal and freeze half for later, eat the rest as leftovers.  Make simple, easy, fast, but good food.  Spend a few minutes and cut up a bunch of oranges (or carrots, or celery, etc).  There were days where I was just too tired to build up the energy to peel an orange, but if they were already cut, all I had to do was eat.

Commute-- take advantage of this time to do whatever you can to make the rest of life easier.  I wish smart phones had been around back when I was doing this!  Pay bills, do a little studying, whatever.  Maybe even nap sometimes. 

There are going to be some rough days, but just power through them and remind yourself that there is an end to it where you can get your life back.  I had a solid goal--for me, the job was tied to the schooling.  If I didn't do the school, I didn't get to keep the job.  The school would lead to an apprenticeship program, which would lead to a great career.  I was going to need that career if I was going to make a good life for my son and I.  So, figure out your goal, and do what you need to do to succeed.

Good luck!

jlcnuke

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Re: Tips for going to school and working full-time
« Reply #8 on: July 19, 2018, 01:50:21 PM »
Hello everyone!

This fall I am starting my Master's studies while still working 40+ hour weeks. Looking for tips, advice and general encouragement.

I mostly work 10-19 (white-collar) and my commute takes up to 2 hours a day (~ 50 min one way with public transportation, which is considered good for our city).
While I don't hate my job, I always wanted to be involved in research and work in higher education.
My tuition is covered, however, no stipend or assistantship offered (they simply don't exist here).
I am not ready to give up on my current career (just in case I become disillusioned with higher ed). Because my masters program is not strictly academia-oriented, it will not look weird on my resume if I ultimately decide against switching paths.

Fortunately, the school is just 15-20 min walk from my office and my manager is OK with me shifting my hours to 9-17 and finishing stuff from home. Classes are from 18 to 21 every day. It's a top school, so the workload is not light. In addition, I will probably be behind half my classmates on statistics and math (BA is unrelated). Being a horribly disorganized procrastinator, I am scared.

Are there people who successfully managed to pull off 70-80 hours workweeks for a year (second year will have less classes)? I am not confident in my time-management skills. I also do not want to ruin my savings rate (I'll probably have less time to cook lunches etc. planning to freeze ahead a lot more). How would you stay motivated in my position?

Thanks!

P.S.  English is not my first languages, sorry about clumsy grammar.

In my early 30's I did 3 years of school while working full-time plus (averaged ~50-55 hours/week those years). My primary motivation was to get the certificate that would open up better career opportunities. Knowing "why" you're sacrificing all that free-time (while your co-workers/friends are enjoying themselves after work and you're stuck doing school-work) makes it much easier to deal with imo. If you don't have a clear picture of what is ahead of you and what you're getting from the sacrifice, it can be much harder. I know one friend who stopped going with only 5 classes left because, imo, he was just going to school "to get a degree" and for no better reason.

mm1970

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Re: Tips for going to school and working full-time
« Reply #9 on: July 19, 2018, 02:48:31 PM »
Quote
11 courses, 2 online courses, internship and dissertation.
three semesters of classes (3 hours 5 days a week, maybe also saturday), the 4th is for internship and polishing the dissertation. With work it adds up to leaving home at 8 am and coming back to 10 pm everyday.

That's basically full time work and pretty full time classes - that's 15 hours a week of classes, or more, and that doesn't include homework.

Sparkytheop has good advice.

ketchup

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Re: Tips for going to school and working full-time
« Reply #10 on: July 19, 2018, 03:34:52 PM »
A good friend of mine finished his degree about a year ago, after two years of full-time school and full-time work delivering pizza.  I'm pretty sure he's 28.

Some tips gleaned from his experience:
-You do those two things, and not much else.
-Make eating easy/simple, see above.  My friend ate way too much pizza from work, probably not the best strategy.
-Similarly, put everything in your life that you can on automatic.  Keep it simple.
-Know your personal capacity for sleep deprivation, but even then use it sparingly.
-Know when to come up for air and do something fun or relaxing for a few hours, and make it count.
-Be completely OK with your significant other quitting her job and disappearing out of the country for literally months at a time with bad explanations and excuses, and pretend it's not obvious that she's banging some guy in Australia behind your back.  Oh, and be fine with both you and the Australian guy bankrolling her life and paying off her car, and then showing back up at the end of it all like nothing happened.

BZB

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Re: Tips for going to school and working full-time
« Reply #11 on: July 19, 2018, 06:17:35 PM »
When I was working full time and taking night classes these things helped me-
1. As others mentioned, batch cooking on the weekends. I pre-portioned all the food into containers to grab and go. I brought breakfast, lunch, and dinner to work every week day.
2. I automated exercise by also training for a half marathon and doing my running drills for exercise before work every morning, then showering at the gym at work. I believe the exercise and healthy food kept me from catching colds and other illnesses, which would have been a disaster with my school work. It also helped keep my energy levels up for the late nights. I had a rule that I had to exercise every work day.
3. For memorizing I posted sticky notes all over my apartment, such as on cabinet doors, inside the fridge, and next to the toilet. When I saw a sticky note I had to stop and recite the answer which I had written on the other side. This helped with all sorts of subjects but especially with foreign language vocabulary, math formulas and molecular structures. I turned my environment into total immersion of whatever subject I was struggling with at the time. I also made a lot of flash cards.
4. I used all the free tutoring and professors' office hours that were available. I think in some subjects my professors gave me a little boost on my grades because they knew I was truly putting in the effort.

red_pill

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Re: Tips for going to school and working full-time
« Reply #12 on: July 19, 2018, 06:28:57 PM »

Yes, I have done it.  Full time work, plus full time studies.  With a family.  Totally possible, and I'd suggest you listen to the advice above about streamlining your life.  I'm surprised no one has asked why your commute of 50 minutes each way can't be adjusted. 

Regardless of the above, these three sentences need attention:


Being a horribly disorganized procrastinator, I am scared.

I am not confident in my time-management skills.

How would you stay motivated in my position?


You're not going to have the luxury of being a procrastinator with poor time-management skills.  You need to fix this.  Good news - it's easy to fix.  All you have to do is decide not to be that way.  Procrastination is a conscious choice.  You can just as easily choose to be squared away and get your shit done.

And don't look for motivation as your saviour.  Motivation will abandon you at some point.  You need to be DISCIPLINED.  If you don't know the difference between motivation and discipline, go listen to some Jocko Willink.  He'll set you straight.  You're gonna have to learn how to prioritize and execute if you want to survive and thrive.

Good luck!


Sun Hat

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Re: Tips for going to school and working full-time
« Reply #13 on: July 19, 2018, 06:32:39 PM »
Schedules and routines will be your friend. I did my MA by distance while working long hours, the terms that I did two courses were hard, but the terms that I did one were almost easy because I adopted routines that were pleasant to stick to. I planned when I would do each section of reading, scheduled time for assignments, ran on set days of the week and even shopped for groceries at the same time each week. Because of my routine, there was never a question as to what to do with my time, so I was never healthier or more productive. You can do it.

marty998

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Re: Tips for going to school and working full-time
« Reply #14 on: July 20, 2018, 01:39:12 AM »
This thread is enough to bring back a few nightmares for me.I did the whole full time work, part time studying thing. With a 3 hour a day commute too.

It is brutal, and you are going to suffer. But you will be so strong at the end of it.

if I'm honest, I put on a little weight too on account of not having enough time for fitness. Try to ensure you keep a little time each day for general exercise.

 
A good friend of mine finished his degree about a year ago, after two years of full-time school and full-time work delivering pizza.  I'm pretty sure he's 28.

Some tips gleaned from his experience:
-You do those two things, and not much else.
-Make eating easy/simple, see above.  My friend ate way too much pizza from work, probably not the best strategy.
-Similarly, put everything in your life that you can on automatic.  Keep it simple.
-Know your personal capacity for sleep deprivation, but even then use it sparingly.
-Know when to come up for air and do something fun or relaxing for a few hours, and make it count.
-Be completely OK with your significant other quitting her job and disappearing out of the country for literally months at a time with bad explanations and excuses, and pretend it's not obvious that she's banging some guy in Australia behind your back.  Oh, and be fine with both you and the Australian guy bankrolling her life and paying off her car, and then showing back up at the end of it all like nothing happened.

I had to read the last one a second time before realising "ouch, that's fucked up". Poor guy.

rubybeth

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Re: Tips for going to school and working full-time
« Reply #15 on: July 20, 2018, 08:56:50 AM »
I worked about 30 hours a week while in grad school for 3 years, and I commuted 1.5 hours each way to classes 2-3 days per days per week. My husband worked 40+ hours per week while doing grad school part-time. It can be done.

Can you do homework/reading while on public transportation? That would be 50 minutes each way of studying. I'd put on noise cancelling headphones if you need quiet, and make the commute productive.

I also like the suggestion of planning out the workload as soon as you get the syllabus. I did this each semester, getting the syllabus as early as I could (it was often posted online or emailed to us a few weeks in advance). Get ahead of any readings/homework. Plan time off work when larger projects are due--taking a few hours off every couple of weeks, if possible.

mm1970

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Re: Tips for going to school and working full-time
« Reply #16 on: July 20, 2018, 10:57:47 AM »
A good friend of mine finished his degree about a year ago, after two years of full-time school and full-time work delivering pizza.  I'm pretty sure he's 28.

Some tips gleaned from his experience:
-You do those two things, and not much else.
-Make eating easy/simple, see above.  My friend ate way too much pizza from work, probably not the best strategy.
-Similarly, put everything in your life that you can on automatic.  Keep it simple.
-Know your personal capacity for sleep deprivation, but even then use it sparingly.
-Know when to come up for air and do something fun or relaxing for a few hours, and make it count.
-Be completely OK with your significant other quitting her job and disappearing out of the country for literally months at a time with bad explanations and excuses, and pretend it's not obvious that she's banging some guy in Australia behind your back.  Oh, and be fine with both you and the Australian guy bankrolling her life and paying off her car, and then showing back up at the end of it all like nothing happened.

Lordy that last one makes me think you know my next door neighbor.  Except it was law school and a day job, and it was Africa to do yoga.  And at the end she demands half the house and a divorce, less than a year after the wedding.

tungu2

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Re: Tips for going to school and working full-time
« Reply #17 on: July 21, 2018, 03:27:50 PM »
My situation was a little different, but I figure if I can do it...

I was 21, with a 2 (3?) year old, working 30+ hours a week, and going through a 2 year college program (related to my job).  After the first year, my then-husband left, so I became a single mom on top of that.


You are very inspiring! Thanks!

tungu2

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Re: Tips for going to school and working full-time
« Reply #18 on: July 21, 2018, 03:45:30 PM »

Yes, I have done it.  Full time work, plus full time studies.  With a family.  Totally possible, and I'd suggest you listen to the advice above about streamlining your life.  I'm surprised no one has asked why your commute of 50 minutes each way can't be adjusted. 

Regardless of the above, these three sentences need attention:


Being a horribly disorganized procrastinator, I am scared.

I am not confident in my time-management skills.

How would you stay motivated in my position?


You're not going to have the luxury of being a procrastinator with poor time-management skills.  You need to fix this.  Good news - it's easy to fix.  All you have to do is decide not to be that way.  Procrastination is a conscious choice.  You can just as easily choose to be squared away and get your shit done.

And don't look for motivation as your saviour.  Motivation will abandon you at some point.  You need to be DISCIPLINED.  If you don't know the difference between motivation and discipline, go listen to some Jocko Willink.  He'll set you straight.  You're gonna have to learn how to prioritize and execute if you want to survive and thrive.

Good luck!

Thank you so much for this reply. I agree that discipline is key.

As for commute, it cannot be adjusted. I live in a 10+ mln city with horrible traffic. Subway is my only option (driving would take longer even if I owned a car).
Rent downtown is at least 60% of my salary. But I have a long-term lease for my nice and cheap place anyway.

patchyfacialhair

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Re: Tips for going to school and working full-time
« Reply #19 on: July 23, 2018, 12:27:02 PM »
I did 40+ hours work per week plus 15-18 credit hours each semester for 4 years. At first, it stunk, but eventually it worked out.

1) No sleeping in: get on a routine to where you're getting 7 hours of sleep at minimum, but waking up early as the morning hours are great for reading/studying.
2) Schedule classes so that you're not rushing from work to school. A little break is important, even if the class is later than you'd like it to be in the evening.
3) Do what you need to stay awake, but more importantly focused. Black coffee was my lifeblood. Cheap and easy to obtain/make.
4) Figure out a calendar system so that you schedule all your assignments and study periods around work, to the point where you're still getting As on your assignments and tests. This could mean lots of studying for some classes but minimal studying for others.
5) Just accept that weekends and free time are a thing of the past. All my weekends were spoken for, except for 1, the weekend I turned 21. That long without a trip or time off can be exhausting, but keep in mind you'll have breaks like Thanksgiving and Christmas and periods between semesters.

Looking back, it was rough for sure, but the time really flew by. I had to work out of necessity as my parents cut off financial support after a horrible first year performance. I paid cash for all school minus some scholarships for those 4 years, then paid off the aforementioned first year loans within 2 years of graduation.
6) Take advantage of summer classes if possible.

sparkytheop

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Re: Tips for going to school and working full-time
« Reply #20 on: July 23, 2018, 01:37:11 PM »
Oh, I definitely agree with taking summer classes to help ease the load during the school year if possible.  It sucks to have classes run into the summer, but it can really help, especially when you have to take a bunch of classes that have nothing to do with your actual degree (because all the fluff classes that are required to "make you well rounded", just to get your degree.)