Adding the pursuit of an advanced degree to your already busy schedule can feel like an impossible task. After all, you're already managing your career. (Many are also juggling family, hobbies, caretaking, and other obligations.) While our online M.J. degrees are designed for busy professionals, we recognize that it will always be a challenge to take on so much at once.
If advancing your career is your goal, you can fit an online degree into an otherwise busy schedule with the help of these tips.
Create your own study plan — and stick to it
Once you know your classes (and before they begin), map out a study timetable for the year. Start by looking at the syllabus for your classes and plan how you’ll fit in each assignment along with your other work obligations. Print it out or keep it digital, just make sure you have it! When you have a plan, it will make the workload feel more manageable. It's always better to know what to expect.
Set personal goals that make sense
When do you want to complete each assignment? How much time do you want to commit to your studies? What do you want to earn on tests? Push yourself, but also be realistic. Your goals should encourage you to do your best, not stress you out. Add these goals to your study plan to create an overall vision for your semester.
Set aside ENOUGH study time
When building out a plan, give yourself more time than you think you need. It’s better to find yourself with an excess of time rather than wishing you had more. Remember to add in time for breaks, and pay attention to stressful times at work or personal events that will keep you from school work. Again, this is where your study plan really helps you be successful.
Track your progress in a way you're comfortable with
Once you begin online classes, pay attention to your progress and how it aligns to your original study plan. Based on your progress, modify your study plan and make adjustments to your schedule. Are you studying more than you planned? Are readings going by quickly? Be flexible throughout the year to stay on track! Use lists, spreadsheets, or even online programs to keep track of your progress.
Schedule time for yourself
Don’t forget that you need time to decompress. An online degree is a major commitment to add an already busy life. Keep yourself on top of your game by keeping pockets of free time in your schedule. Use this time to do activities that make you happy—spend time with family, read a book, or just go out with friends.
Communicate with your professors
Your professors want you to succeed. If you find yourself overwhelmed, talk to them as soon as you can. Together, you can work out why you might be falling behind and keep yourself from struggling further. And if you can anticipate a work event that might distract you from your online classes in the coming weeks, be proactive and let your professor know. They can work around your schedule—but only if they know what’s going on in your life.
Lean on family and friends
Your study plan probably revealed overlaps in your schedule. Family and friends are a great resource and a place to turn to for responsibilities you just can’t do yourself. Do you have a partner who will help with household errands? A friend who can cover child care and transportation? Reach out for help. You’ll be surprised at how much others want to help you advance your career.
Are you ready to the take the leap?