Checklist for juggling work and study

By Nur Shakylla Nadhra

Part-time studying is a popular option among adults who are contemplating further education because the arrangement requires you to make less financial sacrifices. However, juggling two lives – work and school – takes more than just planning and perseverance on your part. We speak to people who have been there and done that so you can be pre-empted.

Ability to manage your time:
This is probably the most important factor to consider. We’re not just talking about your ability to organise your time and level of discipline. It’s also about having schedules for work and school that complement, rather than clash, with each other. Harmonious schedules will help you to properly divide tasks and to keep track of what needs to be done.

For example, 22-year-old Amira Abdul Rahman juggles part-time study and two different jobs (as a part-time DJ and tutor). In order to organise her time, she came up with a weekly schedule in which she listed her working hours for both her jobs throughout the week, followed by her classes. She would then note down the tasks that she had to do, and fit them accordingly in that schedule.

Willingness to make certain sacrifices:
When you have to handle both work and school, there may hardly be any time left for yourself. In addition, you would probably have to skip outings or dinner with friends and family in order to finish your projects and assignments.

Discipline plays a huge part too - it is important for you to be aware that sometimes you need to make these sacrifices, at least until the end of the course. Inform your friends and family so they would better understand your situation.

The journey between work and school:
If you own a vehicle, then this will probably not be a huge issue. But if you commute via train and/or bus, the distance between your workplace and school will determine how early you need to get off work in order to make it to class in time.

Therefore, when choosing a school, besides considering the course of study and reputation of the degree, you should also consider its accessibility from your workplace.

Frederick Tan, who studies Tourism & Hospitality at MDIS, says that one of the reasons why he decided to take up the part-time degree course at the school is because there is a direct bus from his workplace to the campus. "This makes sure that I will not be late for classes and still find time to have a light meal before that," he says.

Communication with your company:
The support you receive from the people at work, especially your bosses, will affect your ability to juggle work and school. Let your manager know that you’re pursuing higher education part-time and what your school schedule is like. Communicating this to your boss right from the start allows him/her to make special arrangements for you and to be more understanding towards you when you have to take “study leave”.

“They will understand that on certain days you will have to leave early for school,” explains 25-year-old Jason Chew, a designer who is studying part-time. “Also, the encouragement you get from them will motivate you to study harder.”

Bearing the above tips in mind, what you need to do now is to research as much as you can and make enquiries to the schools you're interested in.

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