Technology is changing education. New and rapidly advancing technologies have changed how education itself works. Online courses have enabled new methods of delivering education to more people than ever before. It’s possible to take courses for enrichment, continuing educations, earning certificates, or even obtaining college degrees through online learning.

There are many reasons you might want to study and work at the same time. You might want to obtain an Agile Project Management certification to help enable you to make a career change. Perhaps you’d like to become a writer and learn how to build your copywriting portfolio and get paid for writing

Whatever your reasons, it’s easier than you think to balance studying and working.

You no longer need to quit your job to go study for four years or slog through semester after semester of evening classes. Nor do you need to commute or travel to a campus and sit inside a classroom. 

Instead, you can take online courses during your lunch break, on weekends, or other times that fit into your schedule, and in virtually any location that works for you. Studying and working full time is not only possible, but it can also work well for you.

When working and studying at the same time, online video-based courses are especially beneficial. Online courses have many benefits and millions of full-time and part-time workers and non-traditional students are taking advantage of them, with more joining their ranks each year. 

You often have the option to take these courses synchronously or asynchronously. Here are the differences between these types of courses:

  • In synchronous learning, you, the instructor, and your classmates are all online at the same time but are not all in the same place. You could be watching the class from your back porch while your professor teaches from their office on campus and your classmates join coffee shops or their kitchen tables. This provides both flexibility in location and the ability to participate in real-time discussions with your instructor and classmates.
  • In asynchronous learning, you attend class and complete coursework on your schedule. These are often downloadable courses that you could watch early in the morning or late at night, while you are on a break from work or even on vacation. This lets you work at your own pace provided you meet course deadlines. It also lets you rewatch lectures as many times as you need to.

If you’re considering getting back into education, here’s our guide for how to balance studying and working at the same time, with some useful tips and techniques for you to try.

Have a plan

As with most valuable endeavors in life, having a plan for studying and work is a great place to start. It’s a good idea to consider your overall education goal and your current life situation.

You might be considering balancing the two because you have a full-time job and are looking to advance your career or make a switch to a different one. Or you might have a part-time job and would like to add skills to obtain a full-time job while studying and working. You might not even currently be in the workforce, but would like to be, and you see taking some classes as a way to get there. 

Online learning can help you achieve your educational goals in any of the above scenarios, especially if you plan to be studying and working.

Now you have an idea of your overall educational goal and how it might fit into your life situation. Next, break that overall goal down into lower-level goals, like specific courses, then further down into smaller tasks, like assignments or projects in each course. 

As an example, let’s say you want to learn essential sales skills so you can perform better in your sales or marketing job. Once you’ve got that goal in mind, you can break down the skills you need, and find online sales courses that can teach you those skills.

For each course, examine the course syllabus and think about how you might create a schedule to complete the course’s objectives, especially if you plan to be studying and working at the same time. Here are some considerations:

  • Check the number of course modules and determine how long they will take to complete. Set aside time each day to work on them. You might do one hour every evening, or three hours on a Saturday morning, or whatever fits best fits into your schedule. Once you set your schedule make a habit of sticking to it every day. If you are studying and working, improving your study habits by developing the discipline to stick with your schedule will help keep you on track toward completing your course.
  • If your course has synchronous, live sessions, check the number and duration of them and their days and times. You will need to make time for them in your schedule, especially if you want to balance studying and working, so you might investigate your options if the live sessions occur during your work hours.
  • If you are taking an asynchronous, self-paced course, you will have much more flexibility to complete the course modules and other requirements around your schedule. You may be able to download a lecture or video lesson and watch or listen to it during your work commute, or your lunch hour. Self-paced courses make studying and working much easier to manage.

Talk to your manager

If you’re working towards a professional certification, or something similar to enhance your skills in your current job, it’s a good idea to discuss this with your manager. Many managers will allow you to allocate time during your workday for studying and working. 

For example, maybe your workday has relatively quiet afternoons, so you might arrange with your manager to block some afternoon time when you can focus on coursework. 

Keep in mind, however, that if the course you are taking is intended to enable a career change for you, it’s likely best to limit your course work and study time to outside your working hours.

Stay connected with your class

Whether you are in a course that is being delivered via a synchronous or asynchronous method, it’s a good idea to stay connected to your class. Synchronous courses taught through virtual tools like Zoom often provide ways for you to answer live questions from your instructor or participate in live class discussions. 

Both synchronous and asynchronous courses typically include online chat rooms or message forums in which you can communicate with other students or your instructor to have questions answered or help each other understand new concepts or lessons.

Don’t overwhelm yourself

At first, studying and working full time will probably feel intimidating. But becoming overwhelmed can be counter-productive. Many people are managing to work and study, and you can too. 

If you are working full time, taking some well-placed breaks is a necessity to help you maintain your focus and boost your motivation. You should not only take breaks during study sessions but also longer breaks, like taking one day off per week.

Along with breaks, you should consider doing things to maintain your mental health. Although you will be spending a lot of time between studying and working, ensure you are still making connections with family and friends, or whoever is in your support network. Spending a bit of time on a hobby, reading a book, or doing something creative can be a good way to recharge your mental energy.

Nurturing good, positive relationships, even when you are very busy, can go a long way toward helping you cope with stressful situations during your studies.

If you are feeling strain while studying and working, keep in mind that maintaining your overall health and wellbeing should come first. Finding ways of managing stress that works for you is important so that both your work and study success do not suffer.

In summary

Today’s technology has enabled new levels of flexibility in studying and working. Online courses have changed how education itself works and you can take advantage of this. They can help you enhance your skills or learn new ones, and you no longer need to quit your day job to accomplish this. 

Various types of online learning are available and, in many cases, can be set up to create a studying and working plan that is best for you. It’s a good idea to have your end goal in mind, then use this to formulate a plan for how you can adjust your schedule to complete your course requirements.

There are many flexible options that will allow you to use studying and working to achieve your educational goals.

Ready to take the next step? Check out our collections of online courses from leading institutions and educators.