What is your typical day like?
I am currently pursuing a doctorate in management and can provide “real-time” experience!
I’ve worked full time my entire academic life. Each new degree program offered similar and new challenges based on time, job and family. My days are generally packed with different activities, and I must transition from work to college assignments literally and emotionally.
During my bachelor’s program, I had school-age children and no real study tactics other than to get the work done whenever I could, which was anytime day or night. I worked on assignments during my lunch break and very early in the mornings when the children were sleeping. I also worked on assignments late at night.
My master’s program was very challenging. I made it a practice to get up very early in the morning and try to read for at least one-and-a-half hours before working out or getting ready for work. This early activity helped to mentally prepare me for my workday because I felt ahead of the game having studied early.
Today, the doctoral program is very challenging as it requires both old and new processes to complete assignments. My current program also requires heavy reading, which I now tackle in the evenings.
Ultimately, many best practices for how to study are discovered and developed during the educational journey. Each new program along my education journey helped me to develop a new study strategy or to perfect an old one.
I sometimes work out, then eat dinner before I start an assignment. Working out right after work helps me to destress if necessary and gives me a boost of energy to help me engage in classwork. Next, and my daughter taught me this, a quick nap (30 minutes to an hour) does wonders for the mind and body. Sometimes, just sitting in silence for an hour helps me to reflect on my day and to transition to classwork.
I do not think there is a one-size-fits-all tactic for which study strategies work best for each individual student. Over the years, my work/class assignment transition practices have changed based on my home environment. When I had small children, I could not take a nap directly after work. During those times, I basically made the transition from work to dinner to time with the kids to schoolwork, which was not always a smooth changeover.
Best hack for juggling it all?
One of the best hacks for juggling it all is to learn from your mistakes.
When I was working toward my bachelor’s degree, I was so focused on my studies, my family sometimes longed for my attention. I had returned to college after a 12-year absence, so I was determined to do well in my studies. I did not consider how much others would miss my lack of engagement while working full time, raising a family and attending college. Returning to college was a chance for me to live out my dream, but we must try to create a balance between family, work and school — and it can be done.
One piece of advice for anyone considering going to school as an adult?
The best advice I can give would be to choose your program wisely. Examine different industries that hold your interest to determine which degree will satisfy your interest while meeting a need within a business.
Remember that many of your skills could be transferable from degree program to degree program or from job to job.
I hear some people say, “I don’t need college.” Some people associate college only with getting a better job. I can tell you from firsthand experience, college has groomed me to think differently as a person.
I attended a UOPX graduation online a few years ago, and the words of the commencement speaker made a lasting impression on me. He said, “Before I attended college, I thought fast on my feet. After college, I learned to think things through.” What powerful words coming from an executive business leader! College can become the springboard for new thinking, and new thinking leads to making new decisions that can change our lives for the better.