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When you decide to pursue your graduate education, one of your key considerations will likely be how to juggle the rigors of school with your personal responsibilities, including your family and your job. How do you find the right balance between your academic and non-academic life?

We’ve seen first-hand how determined individuals can reach their goals with thoughtful planning and dedicated support. While every student is different, you might consider the following ideas.


Your challenge: find enough hours in the day to work, care for your family, pursue your degree and still enjoy life. When you keep your focus on the results you want, it can help you create solid strategies for schedule planning and time management though the thick of things.



To make time for this new endeavor, you’ll need to commit to school as a priority. Where can you find wiggle room among your commitments to family, work, community, and potential life events that could affect your daily routine?


Set realistic goals and expectations

Earning your master’s degree is a big goal, but you can still take smaller steps to get there. The acronym SMART is a simple way to help you evaluate your goals as you set them: they should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely.


Make the most of your schedule

Start mapping out a go-to set of tactics to help you fit in your new tasks. Look around your life for ways to take advantage of small chunks of time as they arise—you can read at the airport, use a mobile app for class discussions, study at the same time as your kids, etc.


Going with the flow is a good approach, but not always easy to do. Fortunately, graduate schools are making it easier to flow classes into the rest of your life. Some offer year-round start times and degree program options with varying credit requirements. There are other things to ask yourself, too, which will help you make choices that work best for you.

How much time am I willing to devote?

When and where do I want to take classes?

What’s the best way for me to study?

How should I pace myself?

How much time am I willing to devote?

When you take close look at your life, and how school will coexist with family commitments, job responsibilities and other activities, determine the amount of time and energy that you can give to graduate school over the course of your year. Then compare those results to potential course and semester schedules. Don’t forget to account for the changes of the seasons – annual client or family events, busy seasons at work, holiday plans and so on.

When and where do I want to take classes?

Determine the type of environment where you function best, and the life rhythms you follow. Is it better for you to take classes at a certain time or on a certain day of the week? How far are you able and willing to travel? Are you an early bird or night owl? These answers can help define the way you might tackle your schedule.

What’s the best way for me to study?

Think about your learning style and what you tend to leverage to stay motivated and on track. Do teammates and group projects help keep you focused? Or are you an independent worker who is more comfortable pacing yourself? Your master’s degree program may incorporate a variety of project parameters and assignment types, and you can feel even more prepared if you have an idea about where you’ll work your best.

How should I pace myself?

Many graduate students start a little slower until they get into their new rhythm. You might want to ease into juggling your classwork with your job by starting with just one class. Give yourself permission to save tougher courses for quieter times at work, or online courses for busy phases when you have to put in extra hours.

Learn more about online and on campus degree programs that start every eight weeks at Keller Graduate School of Management.