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Balancing work and going back to college

by StudyMalaysia on May 12, 2017 | Top Stories

So maybe you’ve been thinking about going back to college or university to get that bachelor’s or postgraduate degree. But going back to school as an adult is quite different from that of a teenager fresh out of secondary school. With a full-time job, a family and a household to juggle, how can you make sure that you won’t get completely overwhelmed?

Balancing work and going back to college

Going back to college? The good news is that there are many options for part-time or distance learning. There’s no bad news – but we admit that making the decision to study for an undergraduate or postgraduate degree as a working adult is probably exciting and a little scary at the same time. There are many good reasons to support this decision – you may want (or need) a particular qualification or skill for career advancement; you may be planning a career change; or you may be doing it for self-fulfilment.

The first thing you need to know is that by making some changes to your daily schedule and by planning ahead, you’ll be more likely to complete your degree without constantly feeling overwhelmed.

Here are some ways to get prepared:

1. Plan your schedule

If you don’t plan your schedule (and try to stick to it), chances are you’ll always feel that you don’t have enough time for your studies. So set aside time either daily or weekly to read your notes, do research, complete your assignments, and study for your exams. Give yourself enough time – burning the midnight oil in your youth was cute, it isn’t any more when you have to deal with a boss at work and family at home.

2. Set personal goals

Do you know why you want to do this? It’s important that you explore the answers to this question before you begin. Studying for a degree is a bigger undertaking than signing up for a weekend workshop – you should know that you’re doing it for the right reasons. That way, when the going gets tough, you can look back at your ‘why’ and stay focussed and motivated.

3. Be realistic with your expectations

The great thing about part-time or distance learning is that you have way more flexibility to go at your own pace. Be realistic with how much you can take on. Just because almost everyone is taking four subjects in a semester doesn’t mean you have to feel pressured to do the same. If you know that the last quarter in a year is always a busy period at work, then take fewer subjects in the affected semester.

4. Build a support network

You know it’s not going to be easy – that’s why you need a support network. Share your plans to go back to college with your family, friends and employer and ask for their support. When you start classes, find a study buddy and talk to your course mates (especially those who have one or more semesters of experience under their belt). Whether you need a babysitter, a study partner, or someone to proofread your assignment, a great group of friends and family will be invaluable while you are in college.

5. Get all techie

There’s no denying it – you won’t be able to get through college without technology. If you’re studying for a distance learning courses, chances are you’ll need to access online resources, online classes and discussions, a digital library, and more. So don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it and brush up on your tech skills as soon as you can.

Where can I sign up for part-time or distance learning courses?
What is APEL?

Do you want to study for a bachelor’s degree but do not have the minimum academic qualification? APEL (Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning) is an alternative entry requirement where individuals can capitalise on their work experience and prior experiential learning to gain admission into universities like OUM, WOU and AeU; and other approved universities in Malaysia that accept APEL for entry to their bachelor's degree courses (both full- and part-time).
Get more info from MQA here.

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