Balancing Family Life with Accelerated Degree Programs

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Key Infor­ma­tion:

  • Bal­anc­ing work, fam­i­ly, and stud­ies requires set­ting achiev­able goals.
  • Use time man­age­ment strate­gies like the Pomodoro tech­nique and dai­ly to-do lists to stay on top of your stud­ies. Del­e­gat­ing tasks and pri­or­i­tiz­ing respon­si­bil­i­ties can help man­age your work­load effectively.
  • Lever­age online edu­ca­tion plat­forms, social media com­mu­ni­ties, sim­u­la­tion tools, and insti­tu­tion­al resources to enhance your learn­ing expe­ri­ence and stay orga­nized. These tools can pro­vide valu­able sup­port and make study­ing more manageable.

A degree can be a use­ful addi­tion to your port­fo­lio at any point. It can help you speed up your career, obtain that pro­mo­tion you’ve had your eyes on, and even change your job if you desire. Accel­er­at­ed online degree pro­grams are par­tic­u­lar­ly pop­u­lar in this case, as you get the degree in half the time you’d need for a tra­di­tion­al diplo­ma. This flex­i­bil­i­ty can be heav­en-sent for some­one with a fam­i­ly to take care of.

That said, while par­ent learn­ers can still ben­e­fit from this pro­gram, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t involve work. You’ll have a lot of study­ing to do. How­ev­er, with a good strat­e­gy, you can bal­ance all tasks and make time for your loved ones. Below are some tips and tricks on how you can do that.


1. Set Realistic Goals

You are jug­gling many respon­si­bil­i­ties right now. You have kids to care for, work to go to, chores to take care of. Even with the best sup­port sys­tem in check, you still have a lot of things on your plate. For this rea­son, you should set real­is­tic goals about allo­cat­ing your time and what grades you deem “suit­able.”

For instance, if you have a full-time job and kids to bring home from school, per­haps straight As should not be your goal. Indeed, you want to do your best, but you shouldn’t be too dis­ap­point­ed if you have more Bs and Cs there. As long as you have a GPA that allows you to grad­u­ate, hav­ing straight Bs can also put you in a good position.

A good way to obtain suc­cess in online edu­ca­tion is to con­duct a time audit and deter­mine your pri­or­i­ties. Can you find any pat­terns for poten­tial­ly unnec­es­sary actions that could let you make more room for study time? Do you have tasks that could be del­e­gat­ed or post­poned until you meet your aca­d­e­m­ic goals? Know­ing all this can help you cre­ate a week­ly sched­ule to stick to.


2. Work on Time Management Strategies

As a stu­dent, you are prob­a­bly famil­iar with dead­lines crawl­ing up your back, know­ing you will have a tough time meet­ing them. You need to take your kids from day­care, go to work, and per­haps even cook din­ner. Ulti­mate­ly, you post­pone your projects until you are one day before the dead­line, stressed out of your mind that you’ll have to pull an all-nighter.

In this sce­nario, the right time man­age­ment strate­gies for stu­dents can save you from the headache. Cre­ate a dai­ly to-do list with pri­or­i­ty lev­els for man­ag­ing online course­work, as well as week­ly plans. Ded­i­cate time blocks for each task, but don’t put them back to back. You nev­er know when your kids will decide to cre­ate a par­ent emer­gency in your home. A good idea would be to have your fam­i­ly help you, del­e­gat­ing some of your tasks so you can study.

These time man­age­ment strate­gies should also apply when you are study­ing. For instance, you can improve your pro­duc­tiv­i­ty by going for tricks such as the Pomodoro tech­nique. The 5‑minute “brain breaks” every 25 min­utes can help you keep your focus, mak­ing the most of your study­ing time. Var­i­ous online learn­ing tools for par­ents could also help you keep track of your tasks, so you don’t acci­den­tal­ly miss your deadline.

3. Create a Supportive Home Environment

You can cre­ate all the sched­ules you want, but meet­ing your goals could be chal­leng­ing unless you cre­ate some effec­tive home study envi­ron­ments. Try to open­ly com­mu­ni­cate with your fam­i­ly and tell them what your needs are. Be trans­par­ent about your goals and explain why they are impor­tant to you. Once they get a bet­ter under­stand­ing, they should be will­ing to help share some of your respon­si­bil­i­ties so that you can learn.

Keep in mind that your fam­i­ly mem­bers also have their own rou­tines, and you can’t expect them to put their lives at a stop while you study. Find a qui­et, study-friend­ly place where you are free of dis­trac­tions and have all your learn­ing tools. It doesn’t have to be a home office but a place in your home that is sel­dom used. Teach your fam­i­ly mem­bers to respect your study time and keep the noise and inter­rup­tions at a minimum.

At the same time, active­ly lis­ten to any con­cerns they may have about your aca­d­e­m­ic com­mit­ments. Some­times, you may not be able to pass off all the work to your spouse and kids as you bal­ance online degrees and fam­i­ly life. In this sce­nario, find­ing a com­pro­mise is bet­ter. Try striv­ing for mutu­al under­stand­ing, look­ing for a solu­tion that could work for every­one involved.

4. Leverage Online Resources

We live in the tech­nol­o­gy era, and this is some­thing that you should take full advan­tage of. Below are some resources to consider:

· Online Education Platforms

Some of the best online degree par­ent­ing tips would involve mak­ing sub­scrip­tions to online learn­ing plat­forms. You could also sub­scribe to the online library of your insti­tu­tion of choice. Since around 74.6 per­cent of stu­dents pre­fer e‑books to print­ed ver­sions, many uni­ver­si­ties have caught on and start­ed pro­vid­ing this for­mat. More­over, take advan­tage of edu­ca­tion­al tools such as Google Schol­ar since it can offer access to schol­ar­ly arti­cles and journals.

· Social Media Communities

Online com­mu­ni­ties and forums could also be ben­e­fi­cial for moral sup­port. Plat­forms such as Red­dit and Quo­ra should not be under­es­ti­mat­ed, as that is where most par­ents go for advice. You can learn more about their life expe­ri­ences there and seek advice from oth­ers shar­ing your sit­u­a­tion. Face­book and LinkedIn groups could also be help­ful while offer­ing some tips on stress man­age­ment for parents.

· Simulation Platforms and Interactive Apps

Sim­u­la­tion plat­forms could also give you a glimpse of real-life-like expe­ri­ences, which could help you bet­ter grasp the infor­ma­tion. Most app stores also have these types of inter­ac­tive study appli­ca­tions, along with tools to improve time man­age­ment for stu­dents. If you choose an app that’s enter­tain­ing enough, study­ing won’t feel like a chore.

· Institution Resources

Make sure to also take advan­tage of the online resources the insti­tu­tion offers. For instance, it may allow cus­tomized reg­is­tra­tions or occa­sion­al on-site atten­dance, keep­ing every­thing else online. Many of these uni­ver­si­ties have great online stu­dent sup­port net­works in check, so it would be a shame not to take advan­tage of them.

5. Set Up a Good Financial Plan

Accel­er­at­ed degrees can cost any­thing between $10,000 and $20,000, depend­ing on the insti­tu­tion that you are going for. Edu­ca­tion­al finan­cial plan­ning becomes nec­es­sary when you are a par­ent who needs to sup­port a fam­i­ly. A good idea is to start look­ing into finan­cial aid options, as they can either cov­er the pay­ment or off­set it to make things easier.

Loans, fed­er­al grants, and work-study pro­grams can be effec­tive. For exam­ple, you could look into FAFSA (Free Appli­ca­tion for Fed­er­al Stu­dent Aid). There are also mul­ti­ple schol­ar­ships for par­ent stu­dents that you can ben­e­fit from, many even offered by the insti­tu­tions you are apply­ing to.

It would be best to cre­ate a bud­get and pri­or­i­tize your expens­es so that you spend as lit­tle as pos­si­ble on non-essen­tial expens­es. Plan your child­care costs care­ful­ly, com­par­ing the prices of dif­fer­ent options. You could also save mon­ey by get­ting sec­ond-hand or dig­i­tal books when you can’t find the nec­es­sary resources at the library.

6. Deal with Stress and Burnout

Deal­ing with the pace and inten­si­ty of accel­er­at­ed degree pro­grams can be stress­ful, even if you don’t have oth­er respon­si­bil­i­ties. How­ev­er, if you are a par­ent, it adds even more to the work­load. High amounts of stress can lead to burnout, which not only affects your health but can also sig­nif­i­cant­ly impact your performance.

By rec­og­niz­ing the signs, you will know that you have to take the steps to man­age them, allow­ing the career advance­ment for par­ents to suc­ceed. Here are some signs to watch out for:

  • Phys­i­cal Signs: Chron­ic fatigue, inabil­i­ty to sleep, mus­cle pains, and fre­quent headaches
  • Emo­tion­al Signs: Anx­i­ety, irri­tabil­i­ty, mood swings, and depression
  • Behav­ioral Signs: Pro­cras­ti­na­tion, gen­er­al with­draw­al from fam­i­ly or social sit­u­a­tions, and increased sub­stance abuse
  • Cog­ni­tive Signs: Dif­fi­cul­ty in focus­ing on tasks, for­get­ful­ness, pro­duc­tiv­i­ty issues, and an inabil­i­ty to per­form as well as you did before.

Self-care and good time man­age­ment skills are often an effec­tive way of bal­anc­ing study and fam­i­ly. Use pri­or­i­ti­za­tion tech­niques such as the ABC method to arrange your tasks based on urgency, sched­ul­ing your study time accord­ing­ly. Be sure to leave some time for your­self as well, engag­ing in reg­u­lar exer­cise, get­ting ade­quate sleep, and fol­low­ing a healthy diet. You should also put aside time for hob­bies that bring you relax­ation and joy, such as paint­ing, read­ing, or bond­ing with your family.

The Bottom Line

Strik­ing a good bal­ance between fam­i­ly life and get­ting your degree can be chal­leng­ing, but it is pos­si­ble, nonethe­less. Not only can it enhance your pro­duc­tiv­i­ty, but it can also bring a sense of ful­fill­ment in your life. Focus­ing on your goals and seek­ing sup­port when pos­si­ble is essen­tial since it allows you to get your degree with as lit­tle stress as possible.


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