I'm just going to cut to the chase. The hardest part of returning to school is finding the time to actually go through with earning a degree. I've only been working on my career for about four years when I got accepted to Purdue's online communications graduate program. However, that acceptance was the beginning of a whirlwind that was to be my life for the next year and a half (which is still going on).
Here's when I realized that life really is the proverbial box of chocolates Forrest's mom was talking about - I got accepted into the online Communication Master's program in April 2015, started the following May, got engaged in June, and the following July, I was offered a new position that gave me the opportunity to move from my home in Miami to Boston! Like I said, the hardest part of going back to school is finding the time, energy, and brainpower to earn the degree. But it's not impossible!
Carve out time during the week and stick to a schedule.
It doesn't matter how you do it - Google Calendar, an actual planner, etc - find time and stick to it. I like having my weekends, so I mostly hunker down at home after work to complete my assignments. I like to use Google Calendar for reminders and to block off time. I've never really been organized, so it's been nice to have something to keep me on track.
Create a super-study playlist.
I love Spotify. I also can't work in complete silence. I have a few playlists that I've created on Spotify - one for work, one for studying, one for when it's time to start writing, the list goes on. These help me get in the mood of working.
Integrate school into work.
Actively look for places you can incorporate what you're learning. Not only is it a mood-booster, but you learn first-hand what you've been reading about for class!
Accept Murphy's Law.
Murphy's Law basically states: Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. Going back to school is stressful. Being an adult is stressful. Prepare yourself for life to get in the way, which means that in some cases, you'll have to rearrange your schedule just to get your work done on time.
Despite all the hardships of going back to school, it's all worth it when you finally walk across the stage with a Master's Degree in Communications in hand. I'm still working on mine, but I know I'll feel very accomplished once my year and a half of study is over.
Eileen Perez is a student in Purdue’s online Master of Science in Communication degree program. The program can be completed in just 20 months and covers numerous topics critical for advancement in the communication industry, including crisis communication, social media engagement, focus group planning and implementation, survey design and survey analysis, public relations theory, professional writing, and communication ethics.
*The views and opinions expressed are of the author and do not represent the Brian Lamb School of Communication.