Working and studying at the same time can help you achieve your goals faster, but the effort is often enough to force us to our knees. It would be best to focus on just one at a time, but life doesn’t often give us such luxuries, especially if you are in a demanding career like nursing. Nurses don’t have the opportunity to take time off work while they are studying. In light of such a reality, the only option is to find that perfect balance that allows you to a personal life, a career, and enough study time to pass with flying colors.
Fast Track Your Efforts
It is a lot of work to work while studying, so you need to make sure that you keep it to an absolute minimum. For some careers, a bachelor’s alone will do. In fact, some careers couldn’t care less about what you did in school or where you went, instead only looking at your experience.
For other careers, like nursing, there are barricades you must pass over before you can advance your career. It is in careers like this where your work/study balance is its most critical. Nursing is not an easy job. Nurses are frequently overworked and underpaid for what they do, but their futures are bright. If you can, push yourself beyond just your BSN and aim to achieve at least an MSN, and even a DNP.
In the example of nurses, the best way to fast track yourself to these higher degrees, while at the same time minimizing the amount of time that you need to achieve your higher qualifications, is to opt for a fast-tracked degree.
It is entirely possible to go from a BSN to DNP and earn your MSN along the way. Become a family nurse practitioner faster and be at the top of the job boards for pay and opportunities.
While you are waiting for your degree to begin, you should look to improving your health and wellbeing. Assess what areas of your life need work, and then aim to improve them before you start your online degree.
Key areas to focus on include:
If you get good night’s rests, eat well, and are active as standard, then you are all set. If not, try out different strategies and even consider visiting your doctor if nothing seems to work, as underlying health conditions can make it difficult to adopt healthy routines.
Get in the Zone When You Need to Study
Finding and setting up a great study space can help you get into the zone and work hard without distraction. If you have space in your home, set up this study space before you begin your online degree, if you don’t, find a place outside your home you can commit to. You can rent a hot desk in a co-working space, for example, or you can even use the free public library if you want to stick to a budget.
Work in the Same Place
Wherever you choose to work, aim to only work there. Don’t move your studying to other areas of the home, especially places where you relax. You can have more than one study spot if you set them up, but don’t start going over your notes on the couch or on the bed. This is how you introduce stress to areas that should help you relax. For the sake of your mental health, keep your relaxing spaces separate from where you work.
Have a Study Playlist
Music therapy is used for a wide range of purposes and is frequently used to help improve the focus of individuals. Use a study playlist that is chosen for focus so that you can tune everything else out and actually use the music beats to keep on pace.
Know When to Take a Break
Breaks help us stay productive. If you think about it when you study, you are introducing a lot of new information. You need time to process this information and connect data points together so that you don’t just read something, you understand it. Breaks are the perfect time for your brain to do this, and the best part is that it does this without active thinking on your part.
Try to take a five to fifteen-minute break every hour at least and take a more extended break if you work two or three hours in a row (including those breaks). The trade-off is that you need to work hard without distractions during this time, but your specially designed study space should make this easy for you.
When you take a break, try to eat a healthy snack and drink water if you didn’t during your study time. Refueling will give your body something to eat and give your brain a fresh dose of the vitamins, nutrients, and hydration it needs to work hard.
Ask for Help
Though you will feel like you are doing your degree on your own when it’s online, you are not. There are dozens, if not hundreds of other students in the same boat as you. You also have your coworkers, friends, and family there to support you. Ask, and rely on their help.
There are dozens, if not hundreds of other students in the same course as you, guaranteed. You can easily get their contact details just from the student directory or by requesting their student emails. Put together study groups on social media and join any spaces online where your fellow course-mates have come together to ask questions, seek out advice or clarification, and generally just bond over your shared experience.
They can help you learn, understand, take notes, and even keep you on top of what you need to know. They are an invaluable resource that should never be underestimated.
Unless you are aiming to change industries, your coworkers will be a huge help and support in formal careers, like nursing, where higher education isn’t just nice to have but a must, they are huge resources of advice and help.
From Friends and Family
Friends and family might not be able to help you with your course, but they are perfect for helping you stay stress-free. They can help you stay healthy by helping prep lunches for you on your collective day off. They could even just be a friend to confide in when you get stressed. Don’t try to bottle it all in because this is how you blow a fuse and break down. Share your worries and stresses so that they feel lighter, accept any help, and support your loved ones offer.
Figure Out How You Learn Best
Knowing how you learn is the single best way to hack your education. Most institutions use a combined approach, so you will often have an opportunity to learn whether you will be either a tactile learner, visual learner, or auditory learner. Still, it is up to you to honestly figure out what works best for you and translating what you have learned into a medium most effective for you.
Tactile learners learn by doing. As you learn better when you are physically doing something, try to actually practice what you are learning. For some degrees, like nursing, this will be accomplished during your clinic placement. For other degrees, you may need to create examples yourself so that you can connect the data you are learning with its real-world application.
Visual learners may find they recall the physical words or images associated with the information that they are trying to remember. They learn by reading, seeing pictures, watching videos, and so on.
As for notes, rewriting your notes into a simplified way that you understand best, and keeping them on hand for revision, will be your best bet.
Auditory learners do best when they hear and can listen to the coursework being played back in recordings. Lectures, audiobooks, and videos are great teaching tools for an auditory learner. When recalling information, you may also remember the spoken words as well as the fact.
Most auditory learners will also benefit from visual learning, so watching the professor during the lecture, rather than just listening to them, can help you remember better.
When it comes to individual study, you may want to go through the effort of creating notes and translating them into an audio file. This can be done through a text-to-speak program, or you could read your notes aloud and save them as an audio file you can listen over on your commute or on the run.
You Aren’t a Box
Most people will not fall neatly into just one category, so don’t put yourself into a box just because you think you are only a visual learner. Technically speaking, we learn through all three methods, we just prefer specific methods over others.
Find the right method for you and try to rewrite or recreate what you have learned in the medium that you understand best. At the very least, rewrite in your own words what you have learned, as this will help you memorize and understand the coursework.
Know Get the Most Out of Your Degree
There are a few further ways that you can get more out of what you are learning and use the curriculum to your benefit. Just a few of the ideas to help you absorb what you are learning include:
Use What You Learn at Work
Use what you learn at work, even if it is as simple as saying the official medical term for something you see if you are a nurse. Repetition is not enough. You need to contextualize what you are learning. By using what you learn at work, no matter how small, you are actually studying. You’ll probably impress your superiors at the same time, so you are “studying” at work can actually help you secure a higher tier position once you graduate.
Explore Your Own Interests
If you find something that you have learned during your degree interesting, pursue it. The quest for knowledge does not always have to be goal-oriented, even if you can use what you learn in your career later on. When you enroll in a university, you don’t just have access to your coursework and faculty, you have access to the entire institution, including the library. Save some PDF papers, attend digital lectures from different departments, and just have fun learning.
If you have fun exploring what you are interested in, you can love learning as a whole. You’ll learn more about yourself and be a better student!
Use University Resources
The library isn’t the only resource you should take advantage of. There are student advisors, writing centers, and so much more out there to help you succeed in your degree. If you need help, use them. Even if you don’t feel like you need help, it cannot hurt to know what is available for reference.
Be Patient with Yourself
Your health and mental wellbeing are paramount during this time. It isn’t easy to tackle what essentially amounts to two full-time jobs. Even if you take your education on a part-time basis, succeeding requires a lot of additional hours, and that’s not accounting for the unique learning times and strategies people need. If you find you need longer to get a grasp on the information, then this is going to increase the number of hours you put in, and that’s okay.
You just need to be patient with yourself. Work with your student advisor if necessary, to work out a better schedule if possible. Rather than take two or more courses at a time, spread out your education further. Slow and steady is not just for races, it’s for your health too. Care for yourself set a sustainable pace, and you will see real and established steps being made towards your goals in no time.