How to Balance Work and Grad School

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3 min read

Congratulations on your decision to attend grad school! According to the Census Bureau, just 9.3% of American adults over 25 have earned a master’s degree.

Pursuing a master’s degree is no easy task, but it is an endeavor that can yield a number of benefits. Grad school allows you to explore your academic passions on a deeper level, participate in cutting-edge research projects, make valuable contacts in your field, and strengthen your employment prospects.

Some graduate students choose to work and study at the same time, while others do so out of necessity. In any case, a proper balance between both responsibilities is indispensable and can be achieved through the following advice. Here’s how to balance work and grad school:

Balance work and grad school by communicating with your supervisor

To balance the demands of academia and work simultaneously, you must first and foremost learn how to manage your time. Grad school is quite different from your undergraduate years, so although you may have held a job while you worked toward your bachelor’s degree, your experience juggling both this time may present unexpected challenges.

As you work toward your master’s degree, your work schedule should remain fairly predictable. You should have a clear idea each week of which days and times you will have off; this way, you know exactly when and for how long you will be able to work on class assignments. 

Your boss should absolutely be aware of your plans to attend grad school, so talk to them as soon as possible to avoid scheduling disasters. If it is impossible for you to have a consistent schedule given the nature of your job, you should at least aim to keep your number of work hours steady. Open communication with supervisors is key to maintaining a healthy balance between work and school.  

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Balance work and grad school by taking your study materials to work

Work and grad school are two enormous responsibilities on their own. When you also consider all the other chores and errands you must tend to in a week, you may find yourself feeling overwhelmed. It is for this reason that you must make the most of your downtime at work. During breaks, for instance, may be a great time to get ahead on class readings, studying, and other assignments. 

Take portable study materials to work, such as lightweight textbooks and flash cards, that you can easily look at in your free time. Since using your cell phone may be frowned on at work, it may be best to bring printouts, rather than electronic copies, of texts. 

Balance work and grad school by making some social sacrifices 

To maintain your job and your grad school average, you may need to make some social sacrifices. This implies that you might have to decline invitations to friendly gatherings at times. If it is Friday evening and you have a big project due on Monday, it may be wise to stay at home and work on your project rather than go out with your friends. 

You should not, however, give up your social life completely because of a demanding schedule. Seeing friends and interacting with others is not only enjoyable, it is essential to our emotional well-being. So, stay in contact with those you care about. Just make sure social outings do not interfere with work or study time.

With effective time management skills, balancing work and grad school is a quite feasible task. 


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