By: Ashley Blasland
Being a part-time student and full-time employee is not for the faint of heart, but if you set yourself up with some helpful tools and a specific mindset, anything is possible!
I work two jobs across seven days of the week and pursue a Master’s in Higher Education at TC, so I am happy to act as your guide in maintaining your sanity with an overflowing schedule!
- BUY A PLANNER. You might be thinking, “Is it 2005?” but just trust me and select the prettiest daily planner from your local bookstore like you did in 7th grade. Although phone/Gmail calendars are helpful, there’s nothing quite like writing out assignments, class times, and other commitments while viewing the layout of your entire week or month. (If you are really fancy, you can even color code it!) Tracking your crazy schedule in one space will help you tremendously in organizing your life.
- At the beginning of the semester, you will receive syllabi from each course. Write each due date in your planner so that you see when your busiest times will be, and plan accordingly. If you notice that you have three exams falling within the same week, it might be wise to put in a vacation day request in advance for that time. When the stressful week approaches, you will be thrilled that you gave yourself the gift of extra hours!
- Be creative with your time. If you have a commute, ditch the Spotify tunes and commit to reading on the subway. Have an hour lunch break? Sneak off to a quiet space with your lunch and start chipping away at that next paper. Finally, always keep a textbook on you. You’ll be surprised at how many opportunities arise for you to get some reading done. (ie: Sitting in a waiting room! Standing in the Shake Shack line!)
- Create realistic expectations for yourself… and for your family and friends! It’s true that you won’t be able to attend every friend’s birthday party, or chat on the phone with your parents as often, but you’re shifting your schedule for a great reason. The sooner you accept this, the easier it will be to embrace your new lifestyle. Be sure to let your friends and family know that you might be MIA more than usual, but it’s because you’re working hard and taking on new, exciting challenges. You will be surprised how much support you receive from them!
- Look for windows of time for YOU. Schedule breaks for yourself, even if it’s just to take a 15 minute walk outside, or to call your mother and let her know you’re alive! When possible, give yourself one evening a week that is completely work-free. Plan something with pals, or just lounge in your PJs with your long-lost BFFs Hulu and Seamless.
- Celebrate your successes. Grad school is hard. Did you get a good grade on that paper you spent the last two weeks stressing over? You deserve that ice cream or glass of wine (or, let’s be honest–both!) Did a semester just end? Invite friends out to celebrate! These small rewards will break up the stress you’re enduring all year, and will help drive you towards the next due date.
- Finally, remember that this is TEMPORARY. This is just one slice of your life, and you won’t be stretched this thin forever! Being admitted into graduate school is an incredible accomplishment, and this journey is going to open many doors for your bright future!
The secrets are simple: Be as organized as you’ve ever been in your life, create realistic expectations for yourself, accept how this schedule will change your routine, and most importantly, remember that this is a TEMPORARY lifestyle and will be worth it at the finish line!