I once had a full-time student, who at the end of each school day, went home to her two teenaged boys, made dinner and then managed a few hours sleep before reporting to work at 11 p.m. at the Thruway where she collected tolls until 7 a.m. She earned the academic award of class valedictorian.
Seventy-five percent of my students work a full- or part-time job to pay for their education, and while the aforementioned woman performed a balancing act that conjures up images of Cirque du Soleil, it is rare to find such success. More often, overextended students find themselves in academic trouble, fall between administrative cracks and seldom recover.
As an educator, I can't belie the importance of academic achievement; still, "You are not your grade." It's not that you aren't intelligent, you're just overwhelmed! If you have to work to afford school, consider the following before enrolling:
1. Collect data.
Talk with current students enrolled at the school. How much homework is assigned? What about papers? Is independent study available?
2. Find out if a student or professional clinic is part of the curriculum.
Often clinic hours are assigned outside regular classroom hours.
3. Can you carpool or utilize public transportation to study while commuting?
4. Get support.
Find out what support services the school offers if you need academic help and at what times they're offered.
5. Can you find a job that allows you time to study when it isn't busy?
If your employer allows you to wear headphones, record class lectures and play them back while you work. Make good use of your break time at work. One student told me the break room was so loud she studied in the walk-in freezer.
6. Consider your academic history when picking a program of study.
Will you increase the odds for success by studying part-time or full-time? Does the school offer an opportunity to change programs if you begin full-time, and then decide to change to part-time, and is there a fee?
7. Will your employer allow you to cut back hours if you need to?
Can you afford to work fewer hours?
Crunch the Numbers
When you have all the data, write a time-assessment plan—it's as simple as calories in, calories out. Are there enough hours in the day to balance a job and school? Consider each scenario carefully.
The "I will deal with it" attitude seldom works, and it's usually a formula for disaster. And thinking about the future, remember that time management is one of the key building blocks of a successful massage practice.