Choosing to study whilst working can provide you with financial control whilst you gain professional qualifications that will help you reach your future potential.

Finding a balance between your working commitments and studies can be a challenge, but with the rising cost of tuition fees and other training costs, maintaining financial control over your future is vital to starting or continuing a successful career. Being able to study alongside holding down a job can be extremely rewarding but requires self-discipline and a suitable support network around you.

Additionally, the job market is so flooded with degrees, having work experience under your belt has become just as important. Getting that work experience whilst you’re studying could get you 3 or 4 years ahead of other applicants.

The emergence of online qualifications and the accessibility of free learning platforms has increased dramatically in recent years and subsequently, the option to study at your own pace has never been easier. Choosing an apprenticeship is an excellent option to ‘earn-while-you-learn’, combining valuable work experience with an industry recognised qualification. Our sister site has some helpful information on how apprenticeships can help you reach your future potential.

Finding Time to Study

Earning extra money may enable you to satisfy your financial outgoings such as housing costs or course fees. However, the personal advantages of choosing to study alongside holding down a job will usually outweigh the benefit of added income, including improving your confidence and self-discipline.

You must strike a balance between your work commitments and learning. Here are some tips to help you manage your studying whilst working full time:

  • Acquire a course schedule from your teacher or tutor to enable you to plan your time more efficiently, making allowances for holidays or work commitments. Have a rough blueprint for the duration of your studies but be prepared to make changes when needed.
  • Keep your employer updated with your progress and share your schedule with them, they may be able to provide you with flexible working hours or even workplace mentors to support you with your studies. This will be really useful when it comes to the exam period.
  • Schedule breaks and make the most of your free time. It is important to take time away from your commitments and keep stress levels down, otherwise you run the risk of burning out and jeopardising your future.
  • Create a suitable environment for your studies and consider the best time to dedicate to your learning. Some may find it easier to make progress towards their qualification at the end of the day whereas, others may be more productive first thing in the morning.
  • Get advice from other students or participants studying alongside you. Having another opinion is always helpful when bogged down in your work, and a ‘study buddy’ may also be able to share some great advice on how to balance your priorities.

What are the advantages?

There are numerous advantages when choosing to study alongside holding down a career. There are multiple study options available to workers, such as online courses and distance learning. Part-time courses are becoming an increasingly popular choice among workers, with the added benefit of flexibility and ability to self-fund.

They are often designed to allow participants to work a full-time or part-time job and earn extra cash alongside making progress towards their qualifications. Financial support may also be available in the form of grants and government loans, whether you’re studying alongside work or on the job.

What are the disadvantages?

Without a doubt the biggest drawback to working whilst studying is the reduction in your free time.

Since you are most likely doubling or possibly tripling your commitments, having a job to work alongside your studies may become a distraction if not handled appropriately. You may also have to sacrifice some extra-curriculum activities and getting to know your fellow course-mates will be much harder with reduced free time.

Finding a job that will enable you to continue your studies can be a challenge, however your college or university may have dedicated careers advisors to aid you when looking for work and have links with local employers or work schemes.

For more useful advice and guidance for students and graduates, visit our sister site Developing a Student.