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Working While Getting Your Associate Degree
Getting your associate degree online is a great way to enhance your education while participating in a program that’s more flexible than a traditional college or university. One of the benefits of an online degree program is that it lets you keep working at a full-time or part-time job while simultaneously completing coursework and exams. However, some students are apprehensive about online degree programs because they’re not sure how to balance the academic demands with those of the workplace. But there are a few things to remember when it comes to working while getting your associate degree.
First and foremost, set a schedule. The scheduling freedom afforded by an online degree program is a wonderful thing, but just because you don’t have to show up to class every morning doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make your schoolwork a regular part of your day. The easiest thing to do with an online program that puts the scheduling in your hands is to let that scheduling slide until you’re behind on the course load. Take a moment to plan out what hours you’re working every week and then determine when you can log in to attend class, complete any required reading, and submit homework. A smart schedule will prevent your job from affecting your classes and vice versa.
It’s also a good idea to talk with your employer before beginning an online associate degree, for several reasons. It’s always a good plan to be open with an employer before taking on a task as sizeable as returning to school, but it’s also possible that, depending on your associate degree, your employer will be able to provide financial assistance for your education. Your employer is legally allowed to provide you with up to $5,250 in tax-free education assistance benefits if they so choose, and they might choose to offer financial aid if your degree is related to your occupation and will assist your career. Many employers, including UPS, have tuition assistance programs for their employees, so be sure and check with your human resources department if it’s available to you.
Finally, know how much you’re capable of balancing without suffering from burnout. Earning an online associate degree is no small feat, and if you want to continue working full-time while attending school, it’s best to start with a lighter course load until you’re acclimated to the academic lifestyle and aware of just how to balance your working life with the academic one. With some wise preparation, though, earning an associate degree online while you work is an achievable goal.