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How to Balance Work with Your Online Program

Published: April 13, 2018 | Updated: April 1, 2021

Are you thinking about going to school even though you have a full-time job? Good for you! Balancing work and school can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. It’s a big decision and one that means you need to consider how you will tackle your current commitments and new responsibilities. Luckily for you, there are many degree programs online that might help you move forward in your career or start a new one. Between online degree programs, online certificate programs, and blended learning models, the options for advancing your studies are endless. This means you could have an easier time juggling both school and work while also pursuing a passion.

Balance School and Work in Your Daily Schedule

Online programs are known for their flexibility, but you’ll still need to turn in assignments on time and take quizzes and tests when they’re scheduled. You may also be required to attend real-time lectures and group discussions. Can you arrange them around your work schedule? Plan it in advance. You may even need to connect with coursemates for group project work. Speak with your instructors for a better understanding of time commitments and expectations. It all sounds like a lot—and it is—but if you plan out your calendar in advance, you’re more likely to find success in creating a work-life balance between school and your career.

Set Expectations with Realistic Online Coursework

Every online program is different. Some online degree programs or online certificate programs may require heavy reading assignments to replace classroom lectures. Setting expectations from the start can be extremely beneficial to your online learning success. Read all the details about the program to determine what the balance will be among projects, lectures, assignments, and tests. Look for specific references to the hours you’ll be expected to commit. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and even talk to people who’ve completed the program. Speaking with instructors and other students may help you understand what the workload will resemble. Just because you take the course via your computer doesn’t mean there aren’t real live people behind it all! who are more than wiling to help you succeed.

Make Sure You Are Comfortable with Technology for Online Classes

If you’re going to take an online course, you need to be comfortable getting online and using common software. Maybe you already use similar programs on your job. Great! But even if you don’t, you need to have easy access to the tools you need. Whether you jump between PCs and Macs or from smartphone to tablet, make sure you can access the coursework you need when you need it. Before you sign up for an online program, find out what the equipment requirements are and how you will access what you need. Make sure you are familiar with the necessary technology, tools, and platforms before the class begins. Many schools offer IT support, and you should take advantage of this department any time that you get stuck. Make note of their contact information. The last thing you want is lose time from a technological glitch.

Find Academic Support for Your Online Classes

Just because you take a class remotely doesn't mean you should feel like you’re separated from the school, instructors, and other students. Find out how you can reach your teachers and fellow students outside of the normal online class work. Creating relationships with instructors and peers will make it easier for you to succeed in online learning. Ask questions, participate in discussions, and get familiar with online portal tools. It’s also a good idea to find out what kind of support the school will provide if you have questions or need additional assistance along the way.

Seek Support for Virtual School and Working Adults

Even the best online program in the world won’t meet your needs if you don’t have time to do the work. Sharing your goals with others will help them understand the importance of your decisions and can reinforce the importance to yourself. Make sure people at home and work know what you’re trying to accomplish. Accept some extra help. Maybe someone needs to sit with your kids while you study, or maybe you need to say no to that second shift without jeopardizing your job. Let people know what your end goal is, and they’re sure to want to help you achieve your goals.


If you’ve checked out online programs and are ready for that next move, it might be time to apply.  Charter College offers several flexible online programs that are ideal for students like you who work full time but are ready to advance their careers with some additional training. Fill out the form to find out how we might be able to help you balance work and school.