Trying to find the balance between study, full-time work and your personal life can seem daunting – especially if it’s been a while since you were a student. But Dr Anne-Marie Chase, Course Coordinator of ACER’s Graduate Certificate in Education: Assessment of Student Learning, says there are proven ways to strike the study-work-life balance and get the best from your course.
Six ways to find time for postgraduate study
Make a plan
Start by creating a study plan. ‘Marking up a calendar with your study alongside your work, personal and family commitments will help you visualise your time and plan ahead,’ Dr Chase says. Sit down and go through the course units. Be realistic about what’s involved – if you’re new to a topic, allow extra time for study. Know your deadlines in advance. Next, think about your study strategy – will you study a small amount each day or spend a big chunk of time at the weekend? Whichever you choose, make sure you pencil in some time to relax.
Maximise your time
‘Consider all the things that will make your life easier,’ Dr Chase says. ‘Can you read or listen to lectures during your commute? Do you have a quiet study space set up? Can you record ideas on the go?’ One of the biggest benefits of an online course, like the Graduate Certificate in Education, is that it gives you the flexibility to study to your own schedule, on any device, anywhere in the world. ‘Our online learning environment is designed specially to provide a seamless study experience, so use it to your advantage,’ she says. ‘Watch lectures and access articles at a time that works for you, whether that’s first thing in the morning or on your lunch break.’
Connect with your fellow students and peers. ‘Why sit at your desk stuck on a particular topic, when you have access to people who can help?’ Dr Chase says. ‘When you study with ACER, you have access to an online forum where you can talk through challenges with your peers and tutors, share ideas and classroom experiences, and ask questions.’ Involve your work peers, too. Invite them to brainstorm and plan assessments with you, so your whole team becomes invested in your learning.
Brush up on your research skills
‘Learn how to research properly and you can save hours of study time,’ Dr Chase says. ‘Even reading research articles gets easier the more you read.’ Start at the library, where you’ll find lots of information on how to search databases, take notes and reference sources. Ask the library staff for help – they are exceptional at providing in-person and online support.
Ask for help
Recognise when you’re feeling confused or overwhelmed, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. ‘That’s what we’re here for,’ Dr Chase says. ‘Our goal is to support you throughout your education, so you stay on track to complete your qualification. We’re very aware of the kinds of challenges students will encounter and can offer tips and solutions to help.’
Don’t forget to have fun
‘If you’re studying something you love, it doesn’t feel like a chore,’ says Dr Chase. ‘Of course, some days will be more challenging than others, so look for ways to make studying fun.’ Decorate your study space to make it somewhere you want spend time. Reward yourself for completing tasks. And give yourself time out to do things you love, whether that’s going for a run, watching movies or going out with friends.
With the right planning, support and ACER’s flexible study options, you can find balance between work, life and postgraduate study and take the next leap in your teaching career.