How to balance full-time work and part-time studies

Working full time and studying on the side can be tricky, but it doesn’t have to be.

How To Balance Full-Time Work And Part-Time Studies

Whether it’s to add to your qualifications and land a job promotion or that you’re simply interested in learning something new, studying is a big but worthwhile investment. In both time and money. Before you commit to studying part time while working full time, ask yourself these questions: 

  • How much time will I need for this course or degree? Will I be able to find the time to do it? 
  • How much will it cost? Are there any additional costs to consider, like textbooks or travel?
  • Is this the right time in my life to tackle something big, or should I rather wait until my baby is a little older or my new job or side business has settled down a bit?

“You have to know very deeply what your reasons are, and that those reasons are worthwhile, because it will definitely get challenging at times and you will need some serious inspiration and self-motivation,” says Charles Thompson, who is studying BCom Law through Unisa while balancing a full-time job as an editor. “In a sense, it’s something only you can figure out, because it reaches to the core of your vision for your future, your dreams, your ambitions, perhaps what you would like to be able to provide for your family or the role model you’d like to be for your children.” 

We’ve put together a 5-step guide that will help you balance working and studying. 


Step 1: Keep everyone in the loop

Before committing to a course or degree, speak to your line manager, HR department and colleagues. “It’s going to become a big part of your life, and your colleagues need to be in that loop,” says Charles. 

“I think almost any boss would be supportive of a team member furthering their skills to be better at their job, but you also need to assure them how you will manage it, when your classes are (if you have any), how much time away from the office it may cost and so on. And, of course, how you will still be able to do your ‘day job’ 100%.”

And if you want to study to pursue something new? “You need to be upfront about that too!”

Charles adds that it’s equally important to keep your family in the loop. “If you’re in a long-term relationship or have a family, studying while working full time is actually something you’ll all be doing, as your partner will be covering for you around the house in more ways than you can imagine while you’re hitting the books.”


Step 2: Create a study space

It’s easy to get distracted when you’re home, which is why you need to create a quiet space where you can focus on your studies without interruptions. If possible, use a room you can close off from the rest of the house. That way, your family or housemates will know not to disturb you if the door is closed. 

Don’t forget to keep your work space tidy and clutter-free and, importantly, have a desk and comfortable chair to work from. 


Step 3: Manage your time; balance your life

Balancing a full-time job while studying part time can become difficult if you don’t manage your time. “You need to find time that isn’t family or work time, and plan well ahead,” advises Charles.

He warns that doing assignments, watching online videos or reading coursework while you’re supposed to be working is not just unethical and dishonest, but it’s also counterintuitive if you’re primarily studying to advance your career. 

“On the other hand, retreating into your study or staying late at the office every night after work will mean you’re replacing valuable and important early evening family time with coursework. That may be okay if you’re doing a short course, but I don’t feel that’s fair towards a partner or children if you’re pursuing something like an MBA or degree, which could effectively lessen your presence in the family structure for years.” 


Step 4: Create a schedule and stick to it

Do you work better at night or early in the morning? You need to create a study schedule that’s best for you and then stick to it.

“My favourite time is early mornings,” says Charles. “I get up around 4 or 5am to do a solid few hours before the workday starts.” He finds it’s the quietest part of the day around the house and his mind is fresh. 

“Over weekends, I’ll usually take 4 hours or so for studies and spend the rest with family and friends. That’s not a huge sacrifice day by day, but you’d be surprised how much study time it amounts to over the weeks and months.” 


Step 5: Don’t leave things to the last minute

Staying up all night to finish an assignment or study for an exam is never a good idea and can lead to unnecessary stress, anxiety and burnout. Always give yourself enough time to get through your studies, especially if you are working full time. 

One way to do this is by breaking up your assignments and coursework into small goals and ticking off each one as you achieve it.   


How to finance your studies

Are you ready to set yourself apart? Capitec clients qualify for R4 000 off any GetSmarter short course or a 50% discount on all courses through Educate24.

But, if you’re dreaming bigger than a short course and plan to do your honours, masters or MBA, or if you’re considering working part time while studying, you may need access to more money. That’s where our access facility can help – you could get up to R500 000 in revolving credit. 

With an access facility, you: 

  • Apply only once at a Capitec branch
  • Decide when you want to access the money and how to use it
  • Choose a monthly repayment amount or period you’re comfortable with. If your financial situation changes unexpectedly, you can adjust your repayment amount or period
  • Access your available balance at any time, and deal with the hidden costs when they pop up 

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