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Phoenix Forward

How to balance work, school and having a life

Finding time to get it all done.

For those with full-time jobs who are striving to get a degree, it can sometimes feel like there’s never enough time in the day. It’s rare for adults to have the luxury to focus on a single priority, and the four University of Phoenix students who were invited to our roundtable discussion are no exception. They have challenging full-time jobs, and some also have families, yet they all find ways to pursue their education. They met at the Phoenix Main Campus to share strategies on how they balance their priorities.

Prioritize your Learning Team work.

All of the students on the panel agreed that creating a great Learning Team is essential to academic success. “You go through your degree program with many of the same students,” says Jaunice Costner, who will graduate in early 2012 with her Master of Science in Administration of Justice and Security. “It’s important to identify the students you want on your Learning Team — and they’ll be looking at you, too. If you get a reputation as being irresponsible, you won’t be chosen to be part of the best teams.”

Stay organized

Kimberli Davis-Baker is looking forward to attending law school when she graduates from the College of Criminal Justice and Security in early 2013. “I don’t get harried or stressed if I’m organized,” she explains. “I work a lot of hours by choice because I want to accomplish a lot. I find I get a lot more done when I know where everything is and what I’m doing.”

Angela Tappo, who is studying for a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Administration, commits her daily agenda to paper. “Every night before I go to bed,” she explains, “I put together my schedule for the next day. I estimate the time, and organize it by whether it’s a team assignment or reading, to make sure that it’s done by Monday so I can post it by Tuesday.”

Develop a strategy.

Ray Duran, who is completing his second year in the Bachelor of Science in Information Technology degree program, likes to tackle his homework a little at a time. “I chunk my responsibilities out throughout the week,” he says “This ensures that I don’t run out of time, or create stress for myself by having to face it all on one day.”

Although daily study is a great strategy for some, Jaunice Costner (who will graduate in early 2012 with her Master of Science in Administration of Justice and Security) prefers a different approach. “Tuesday is the day that I do my homework because of my work schedule,” she explains. “Sometimes I study on Sundays — but Saturdays, I reserve for myself and my family.”