Finding Balance By Dawn Hines

  I work full-time at State Fair Community College, work a part-time job as a CMT at a nursing home, am taking 12 credit hours this semester, have two teenage girls at home, and help take care of my brother’s three young children. Oh, and two weeks ago I moved into a new home. As we all do, I feel like I should be a professional juggler! Here’s some tips for nontraditional students – which have helped me tremendously when it comes to juggling/balancing work, family and school.

1. Start with classes that you are comfortable with to get yourself acclimated to the college setting before undertaking more challenging classes. Now that I have become acclimated to the college setting again, I take a mixture of classes that I am comfortable with and classes that are more challenging so that I am not left taking all of the challenging classes at one time.

2. Know the requirements for your degree program and set realistic goals. Knowing how many credit hours you must complete for your degree program will help you determine your graduation date and how many classes you will need to take each semester to complete your degree by that date. Mapping out each semester will help you set realistic goals and budget your time efficiently.

3. Make time for networking and take advantage of college support services. Networking provides an outlet for stress relief and can create connections that can be beneficial immediately as well as in the future. Just knowing that there are other students out there who experience the same struggles and connecting with them will offer solutions and relive stress.

4. Use a calendar and/or planner. Knowing your deadlines, due dates and scheduling time for studying, for family and for yourself is vital to success. Not being in the classroom setting can make it more difficult to stay focused. Scheduling time for studying and schoolwork will help you stay focused and not put it off. Having your family’s support is vital. Set boundaries and let them know when you will be studying and doing homework but also set time aside to spend with them as well. You can even get them involved in your studying such as quizzing you.

5. Self-care is also important. Balancing work, school and family requires a lot of energy. Getting enough sleep, eating right and staying physically, mentally and emotionally fit are vital in keeping your from becoming burnt out which can result in bad grades and trouble at work and home. If you are struggling, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Dawn Hines is MASFAP’s 2018 Professional Development Co-Chair

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