So, you're thinking about going to grad school and wondering if now is the perfect time? Good news: it is!
There are a lot of myths circulating about remote grad school and work from home situations, and we're here to debunk a few common misunderstandings.
As a prospective student, you'll find that graduate schools are set up to provide support to individuals from different backgrounds and life circumstances.
Additionally, many businesses want their employees to pursue a graduate degree so they can become more productive, valuable staff members. These companies are often willing to work around their employee's fluctuating schedules.
Below, we've outlined (and debunked) five common myths people believe about attending grad school while working a full-time or part-time job.
Myth #1: You’ll burn out for sure.
Grad school is a lot of work, and of course, holding down a job at the same time can be very challenging. Fortunately, there are many strategies you can use to avoid burnout.
Find a Program that Works For You
There are many types of graduate school programs, and often those programs are designed for people in different stages of their careers. Some programs are full-time, others are part-time on weekends and evenings. Be choosy when selecting your program. Don't accept the first one that accepts you — wait until you find the program that best suits your needs and lifestyle.
Communicate With Your Employer
Hopefully, your employer will support your enrollment in school. Once you've found a school that works for you, let your employer know and discuss how going to school could change your schedule. If your employer isn't supportive, it's best to find out now rather than later.
Use Strategies to Manage Time and Avoid Burn Out
There are many time-management strategies that can help make your years in grad school a productive and positive experience.
- Take breaks throughout the day — Schedule breaks between studying, working, and attending class.
- Make a designated workspace — Some people burn out easily while working from home because they feel like they can't escape their workplace. Set aside space at home for studying, attending class, and going to work. Keep these spaces separate from your personal life if at all possible.
- Set realistic goals — Some people burn out because they push themselves too hard and take on too much. Know your limits and keep your goals attainable.
- Develop a support network — Cultivate a circle of friends, coworkers, and loved ones that you can talk to and ask for help when needed.
- Develop your time management skills — Time management skills are honed through practice, so start cultivating these skills as soon as possible.
Myth #2: You’ll fall behind.
With some discipline and a whole lot of time management, you'll be able to juggle the responsibilities on your shoulders.
It is so important to choose a program that will blend with your schedule and fit in the spaces between your life and work. If you don’t force-fit a program that is not a good match, you’ll be less likely to fall behind.
It's also important to stay in contact with your advisor, mentor, or instructor throughout your time in grad school. Good schools provide support systems that help their students deal with the challenges of going to school and work. When you feel yourself falling behind, reach out for help. Together, you can brainstorm solutions to get you back on track.
Myth #3: You’ll have no social life.
Maintaining a social life in grad school takes some creativity and outside the box thinking — but it’s totally attainable. Your graduate program will provide many opportunities for meeting new people and socializing. When all is said and done, you'll have more chances to meet new people who understand your areas of academic interest.
It's important to maintain contact with people outside your graduate program. Take time to make phone calls with friends and family. You can also get creative with your time by inviting family on shopping trips or making exercise dates with friends. By holding on to your current relationships and remaining open to new experiences and conversations with your new peers, your social circles will expand while you're in grad school, not contract.
Myth #4: Collaboration with peers decreases when you're attending school virtually.
Collaboration is a crucial part of the graduate school experience, and many people may be reluctant to enter graduate school at a time when they're attending a number of classes virtually.
However, this is a time when working from home can be more of a help than a hindrance. Working and taking classes from home is very time efficient. This leaves more time for meetings on Zoom and over other platforms, thus enabling students to collaborate with one another and develop the support networks that they need in order to be successful.
With that extra time, you can assemble a study group, join a committee at school, or take the time to participate in online message boards for you and your peers. Collaboration is easier when you have the time to cultivate peer relationships.
Myth #5: You won't be successful in work or in school.
Attending work and school from home is overall easier than attending to both in person. While burnout is always a risk, it's easier to find time to do the work that needs to be done when you're not traveling from campus to the office and back again. By working and learning from home, you'll have the resources you need to throw yourself into your studies.
You'll also have the time you need to do well at your job. With some smart planning and time management, you'll even be able to work in time for relaxation, self-care, and self-reflection. In fact, you could argue this is the perfect time to be going to grad school and working remotely!
Be Selective, Choose Wisely
Here's the bottom line about working and going to grad school: you can do it!
The first and most important thing is to choose the right program for you. Interview schools in the same way they interview you. Look for a program that provides adequate support to its students, particularly those with full-time jobs. Programs that actively recruit employed students will have the infrastructure in place to make your time in grad school a more positive and productive experience.
If you’d like to learn more about the graduate degree offerings at Sacred Heart, you can browse our graduate programs or request more information and an admissions counselor will be in touch with you shortly. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us — we’d be happy to help you on this journey!