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Time Management Tips for Part-Time Students

By Amber Hilton,
Staff Writer

Juggling your pursuit of a degree and a work or home life can be a challenge.

If you've made the decision to go to college part-time, you probably also have other commitments and responsibilities, such as a family or a full-time job, or both. Finding success as a part-time student while continuing to balance your other responsibilities can be tricky, but it's by no means impossible. These six tips for managing your time as a part-time student will help you make the most of each and every hour in the day.

1. Choose your program wisely. Many college and university programs are designed specifically for the part-time student. Look for a program that offers night or weekend courses or is offered partially or fully online. This won't be possible at every institution or in every area of study, but an increasing number of schools offer more flexible learning options for part-time students.

2. Set a goal. Having a clear goal as to when you want to finish your program can help keep you on task when things get tough. You might also make a list of reasons why you've decided to go back to school and how your degree will help you in the future. Make a point to look over your list any time you need some extra motivation.

3. Get organized. Organization is the key to time management, especially when you're a part-time student juggling school, work and a hectic personal life. Staying organized with a planner, online calendar or cell phone app is essential if you want to survive the next few years. Daily and weekly to-do lists will help keep you on top of all your responsibilities, but don't beat yourself up if things don't always get done. The unexpected is bound to pop up from time to time when you're juggling this many responsibilities.

4. Take advantage of spare moments. Not every study session has to involve being locked in a quiet room. You can listen to recorded lectures while you're driving, doing housework or are on your lunch break. Always have some notes with you to look at when you get stuck in traffic or are waiting in line. By taking advantage of otherwise wasted moments, you open up more quality time to be spent with your family and friends.

5. Learn to delegate responsibility. There's no getting around doing your own schoolwork, but you might be able to delegate some responsibilities at home or at work while you earn your degree. If you have a supportive spouse or children, ask them to pitch in more around the house while you focus on your studies. Explain to them how important this is to you, and they should be happy to help. If your workload is stressing you out, you might also try to delegate some projects or responsibility at the office, although it's important that you keep your work and school responsibilities separate.

6. Take care of yourself. Spreading yourself too thin doesn't do anyone any good. Even when things are busy, make the time to take care of yourself by eating well, exercising regularly and getting the recommended eight hours of sleep each night. Doing so might seem like a waste of precious time, especially during finals week, but it will give you more energy in the long run and help ensure that you don't burn out. Take breaks when you need them, and don't let guilt sabotage your success. Enjoy your loved ones when you're with them rather than feeling guilty that you're not studying, and don't let guilt over neglecting your loved ones ruin your focus when you hit the books.

Last edited: April 20, 2012, 4:56 pm EST
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