Balancing Life, Work, and School at California Coast University
Back to school is here and autumn is just around the corner. While California Coast University offers programs all year long, we know our students still struggle with balancing it all – keeping up with busy families, jobs, households, while trying to stay on track with their own courses. Many of our students are parents with children who are heading back to school during the months of August and September. That means even busier mornings, after school or work classes and homework, and rushing to get dinner on the table. Sometimes it seems like an impossible balancing act trying to keep it all going and finish a degree or certificate. Over the years, we’ve found that students at California Coast University fall into a few different categories:
- Some students achieve a balance between work, school, and life at some point, but much slower than they would like.
- Some students make it through their entire academic careers without finding that balance that they feel good about.
- Some students create a solid balance that lets them reach their academic goals, keep up with family and friends, all while working full-time.
Most would agree the goal would be to find yourself in the last category – managing things and feeling good overall about what you’re accomplishing. For this, let’s take a few minutes to explore some ideas that might help you find that elusive balance and keep all the plates spinning.
The Value of a Work/Life/School Balance
While some people might like the idea of focusing only on school for the time being, students at California Coast University on average are working adults with busy lives. They come to the University because they don’t fit the traditional image of the college student living on campus and focusing only on school. They are earning a living, managing a family and household, attending college, and wanting to do it all well. It is these students that the University was originally founded for and the ones we have continued to serve for 50 years. Regardless of your exact situation, finding a balance is essential if you want to be able to consistently succeed in the months and years to come.
So, how do you accomplish it all, do it well, and feel good about what you’re doing? The key is to take stock of the elements in your life and make the most of them. First, identify what you need to get done, what you want to get done, and how you will get it done. Family and work responsibilities are going to most likely be at the top of your list. Once you’ve identified school as a goal, the challenge is how to make it all work. The following might give you some helpful ideas and strategies when starting or finishing school or taking on other important projects in your life:
Make the Most of Your Support System
Some people struggle to find balance in their lives because they don’t make the most of the resources available to them. Your social support system might be able to provide you with a lot of help as you navigate challenges.
- For example, if you are struggling to get a certain amount of studying or work done, or resolve a problem, you might be able to reach out to a friend, family member, or co-worker to discuss your struggles. That way, you can support each other in accomplishing your goals.
- Sometimes having someone who will listen can make all the difference in gaining more clarity. In some cases, the other person might even be able to provide you with helpful advice to move things forward.
- Maybe set a goal with a friend or family member that may be going through something similar and keep each other accountable.
The “Cost” of Trying to Do Too Much at Once
When challenged with a lot to do and limited time to do it all, you might wonder how to get it all done. The idea of “multi-tasking” is a powerful one – studying while cooking, folding laundry, running on the treadmill, etc. – trying to do more at once. The only problem is the research shows it doesn’t always work. Research shows that trying to do too much at the same time results in switching costs - whenever you switch between one task and another, you pay a certain price in efficiency. Some things to consider when trying to multi-task include:
- One way to think about this is that your brain specializes in the task it is working on. When you switch over to a new task, it may take you a little bit of time to get warmed up to it. If you switch back and forth between different tasks many times in the same day, you can end up wasting a lot of time.
- Whenever possible, look for ways that you can group your various responsibilities together. It might be worth scheduling your work hours on just a few days out of the week. It would allow you to focus more on school and life during the other days of the week. This will give you dedicated times for work, school, social events, or time alone. Mixing all these things together can make it difficult to deeply focus on any of them.
- Many people find that it is easier to get everything done in their lives when they eliminate distractions. Instead of focusing on getting more done, consider looking for opportunities to simplify your life.
- Are there activities that are just wasting time? If so, you might want to make a point of cutting those wasteful activities out of your life. Even if you don't have a specific plan for what to do with the time you free up, by doing so you might gain some extra time in your life that can help you gain perspective to move forward.
Consider Online Courses While Going to College
If completing a degree or furthering your education is a goal for you, the next question is how to do it. Is an online degree right for you? There are some things to consider:
- Many people find that online degrees such as those offered at California Coast University can provide the flexibility and take less time to finish than in-person degree programs. In addition, they work around a variety of schedules.
- For this, you will have to be able to motivate yourself to manage your coursework, meet your own deadlines, and set a schedule for yourself.
- If you are good at doing this, you might find you are able to gain a few valuable hours each week by taking classes online.
- If you have children, you may set a good example by sitting down with them and doing your homework while they are doing theirs.
Remind Yourself to Look for What’s Missing
Finally, after you put together some tools for helping yourself succeed, it’s important to avoid being too rigid about any one of these tools and remember a few things:
- Take some time each week to think about what might be missing from your life. What are the things that are working and not working? Try to do more of the things that are working.
- The important point is to keep moving toward the goals you set for yourself – good parent, good spouse/partner, good employee, good student, etc.
- Remember that “objects in motion tend to stay in motion.”
Sometimes, it can be more difficult than not to find the balance but well worth the effort in the long run! To learn more about how you can find flexible online programs that can help you reach your educational goal and help you maintain balance in your life, reach out and get in touch with us at California Coast University any time!