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Five Tips for Balancing a Full-Time Job and a Graduate Program

posted by Jennifer Bullis, Associate Director of Admissions for Graduate Studies

Deciding to pursue a graduate degree is easily one of the the best choices you can make for your career. Squeezing it into your already busy life? Not so easy, it may seem—but if you spend a little time before classes on these five tips, you'll be pleasantly surprised to learn that earning a master's degree (like one of these from LIM) is completely doable even if you have a full-time job; no losing sleep (or your sanity) necessary. Take a look.16LIM0474-blogimage-jan-balancejobandgradschool.jpg

1. Chat with your boss ahead of time. Keeping your employer in the loop regarding your plans will make your journey to a master's degree so much easier—mentally, emotionally, and perhaps even financially (if your company offers tuition reimbursement). Set up a meeting to discuss how the skills you'll be learning will greatly benefit your role, and assure your supervisor that you selected (or will select) a program with convenient class times and scheduling options. Chances are good that your boss will be proud of your decision, and you'll feel relieved knowing you have his or her support.

2. Find a program designed for working professionals. Speaking of convenient class times, that's just one factor you should consider when researching programs. Take your time and ask questions. The one you ultimately choose should follow certain criteria that will make your life easier as you go back and forth between work and class. Check out this blog post, Three Things to Look for in a Graduate Program When You Work Full-Time, for more specific advice.

3. Review your social calendar. Are you in a book club and a marathon training group? Do you volunteer regularly, or sit on any boards or committees? Prioritization is key when it comes to fitting a graduate program into your schedule, which means before you begin, you'll want to take stock of all your obligations and extracurriculars. Decide which ones you absolutely want to continue with and which ones you can put on pause for awhile, until you get a better feel for what free time you'll have. (And remember this: throughout your program, it's okay to say no! If friends ask you to pet-sit or take off to Puerto Rico for a quick getaway, politely decline if you just can't make the time. One day soon you'll have plenty of time again.)

4. Dry run the commute. Sounds silly, but finding the quickest routes to and from work and class, and to and from class and home, really will make balancing both a lot smoother. Hop in the car or on the subway and see what gets you to each place the fastest. (Even better? Consider choosing a program that's fully online, like our Master of Professional Studies in Fashion Marketing and our Master of Professional Studies in Fashion Merchandising & Retail Management. No commute at all.)

5. Talk to your nearest and dearest. Similar to the goal of #1, get the support of your family, significant other, coworkers, or roommates—anyone you talk to or hang out with on a regular basis. Encourage them to encourage you whenever you need some motivation to keep on trucking, promising them that once your career explodes thanks to your graduate education, lunch is on you ;)

If you could use some more encouragement that you can earn a degree while working, contact our graduate admissions team. We're full of advice and would love to tell you more about our work-friendly programs.


Topics: Admissions Advice, Inside Graduate Studies