APU Careers & Learning Online Learning Original

Maintaining School-Life Balance during Your Academic Journey

By Tracee Ramey
Senior Student and Alumni Affairs Liaison

Many adult learners are in a unique situation when they decide to return to higher education. For instance, their list of responsibilities – holding part-time or full-time jobs, caring for their families, and taking classes – is greater than everyday college students.

If you are a student who holds a part- or full-time job and you’re also a parent, you face challenges when you’re balancing all of the demands on your time. Creating a successful school-life balance requires some preparation and strategic planning. However, there are many ways to achieve school-life balance.

Prioritize Your Responsibilities

A life full of various obligations often means you are juggling multiple tasks daily. We’re not perfect, and sometimes that means we may neglect some aspects of our lives to achieve greatness in others.

It’s common that the most important things to us are what we will focus on the hardest, allowing us to make the most of our time. It helps to talk to a ClearPath mentor about how you can focus on what really matters and avoid wasting time on other tasks that aren’t a priority.

Plan Your Schedule and Manage Your Time Properly

Everyone’s work and school schedule is different, but creating sufficient space on your calendar is key to creating a good school-life balance. If you work full-time, this part is easy. Set aside your working hours to focus on your job, and fill in the remaining time with your other obligations.

Be sure to give yourself enough time to study for exams, contribute to your weekly discussion forums and complete your assignments. After that, take your remaining free time and spend it with your family and friends. Ask your mentor for tips that you can use to create a high-impact week.

Related link: Time Management for Busy Online Students

Remain Flexible

Life is unpredictable, so keep in mind that your life may not always go as planned. But finding ways to adapt to sudden change will help you progress through your academic journey, even when your circumstances aren’t what you anticipated.

Your mentor likely has experience with adjusting to sudden changes. Talk with your mentor about making adjustments for the unexpected, and ask for your mentor’s advice about how to cope with sudden changes in your life.

Take Time for Yourself

To maintain a good school-life balance, don’t forget to give yourself some attention, too. Consider the various activities that help you to unwind, and create sufficient time and space for relaxation. Relaxing activities could include exercise, prayer, reading, meditation or any other outlet that offers you a way to decompress.

Self-care is necessary to prevent academic burnout. Talk to your mentor about what activities help you relax, and listen to your mentor’s advice for other ways to recharge.

Lean on Your Support System

We’ve all been in that place where we don’t want to ask for help. While you should manage your responsibilities and your schedule, it’s critical to have people you can count on to keep you on track and help you stay grounded during your academic journey.

Your support system can include friends, colleagues and family members. Keep them informed of your work and school schedule so they can truly support your goals.

Related link: Academic Advisors: Guides through Your University Experience

Remember Your Ultimate Goal

Ultimately, the key to maintaining a school-life balance is to remember your end goal: a certificate or degree. Your academic journey won’t last forever. While it’s not easy, remind yourself of what’s to come when you finish that journey and don’t be afraid to seek the advice of your mentor along the way.

Tracee Ramey has been with the University since 2007, holding various positions such as Learning Outcomes Assessment Specialist, Student Affairs Coordinator and Commencement Coordinator. Tracee currently works closely with the University Directory and the ClearPath mentoring program, helping students and alumni connect to build meaningful relationships. Tracee received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from American Military University in 2015.

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