Whether you have a casual, part-time weekend job or a hectic, full-time career, finding time for further education can be a difficult task. If you’re looking for a more enriched life, career advancement, networking opportunities or just think it’s time for a change, a masters degree can help make those goals a reality. Once the decision is made to return to school, the question than becomes how to maintain the status quo while adding the workload of a masters degree.

Choose the Right Program
Many students discover quickly that a graduate-level education is very different from the experiences of an undergraduate. Choosing the right program becomes extremely important so the time and effort expended is worth it. Be sure to find out details such as when classes are held, how long the driving commute will be, how the workload changes throughout the program and the professors’ expectations both inside and outside of the classroom. Understand the full requirements of the program and how they directly relate to your future ambitions.

Prioritize Activities
Before submitting applications, consciously decide whether prioritizing school, family and social life is something you’re ready for. Building connections with professors and attending networking events may delay a dinner with friends. A deadline at the office may rank higher than a research paper at school. No matter your hierarchy of priorities, settle on the idea that one activity will become more important than another. Dedicate energy to the tasks that will most help achieve your goals.

Perfect Time Management Skills
After finalizing your priorities, the next step will be utilizing time in the most efficient manner. Find imaginative places to study and rehearse group presentations, such as on the Elliptical machine at the gym, on the subway to work or at the hair salon on the weekend. Sharing the time spent on these activates with schoolwork will allow you to be more productive; however, there is a science to multitasking. When at the office, don’t think about school and vise versa. Both of these activities require full attention and should not be combined.

Be Creative with Class Projects
Masters programs are traditionally team-focused and require projects be completed as a group. This method helps teach students how to work efficiently with different personalities, which is something everyone encounters in the outside world. A benefit of this style is that students gain exposure to their fellow classmates and their ways of thinking. Depending on the assignment, use a real-life situation from the office as the topic for a team project. Finding ways to solve a professional issue in the classroom brings together people with different approaches to the same subject matter. Teammates at school may be able to offer a new idea that no one at the office had considered.

Keep the Goals in Mind
Pursuing a masters degree will not be easy or quick. Due to this, it is important to remember your goals and priorities as the program progresses. Writing in a journal at the end of the day or documenting important happenings via an online blog will help track accomplishments and make the experience more worthwhile. You’ll be able to share these moments with loved ones and look back on the time later on.

Remember to Enjoy the Experience
Between the distractions from work, school and personal life, it may be difficult to remember that enjoying yourself can be just as important as good grades. Higher education is a way to expand your portfolio of knowledge and life experience, but it shouldn’t be completed in a whirlwind of stress and anxiety. Build meaningful relationships with classmates and dedicate the time required so that looking back on the experience will be an appreciated memory.

At the University of Miami, students may elect to earn their degree on a full-time basis or, more commonly, part-time. This provides scheduling flexibility and allows students to maintain their careers while pursuing higher education. Contact the Program Office to find out if the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies is the right degree for you.