You’ve worked hard to advance your career over the years, and now you’re ready to reach the next level by pursuing a master’s degree. You’re confident that returning to school is the right choice, but you have understandable reservations about leaving your current position.
Plenty of professionals who have faced this dilemma are turning to online degree programs that allow them to continue working at their full-time jobs while furthering their education. Many colleges and universities offer online programs with live classes and interactive courses that deliver the same benefits of an on-campus experience, plus the flexibility that today’s students are demanding.
Keep reading to discover how you can benefit from working while pursuing a degree and the best practices that will keep you focused and successful.
Do More for Your Company
By gaining more subject-matter expertise and stronger analytical skills, the added value you’ll bring to your organization is practically limitless. You’ll be equipped to explore opportunities for growth, drive innovation and identify valuable opportunities.
Earning an advanced degree also will give you the knowledge and confidence to take on higher-level leadership positions at your company. Not only does this give your employer more options for putting your talent to use but it also increases the chances that you’ll remain with the company.
As a new graduate of an advanced degree program, you’ll share current knowledge and cutting-edge best practices with your colleagues. This infusion of fresh insights can help your organization stay competitive and drive industry-leading initiatives.
With all the benefits you’ll bring to your organization, don’t be surprised if your employer offers to supplement your tuition or pay it in full. If you do receive a tuition reimbursement, you’ll fare better financially thanks to the lower costs of an online degree, which doesn’t require housing, meal or travel costs.
Do More for Yourself
The primary reason for earning an advanced degree is to further your own personal development and open up a greater number of professional opportunities.
In addition to deepening your expertise in your field, you’ll also acquire a unique set of skills from working full time while earning an online degree. Perhaps one of the first skills you’ll hone is time management, which is essential for balancing your course load with your responsibilities at the office. You’ll also become much more adept at working on teams, as many online programs require collaboration with classmates from around the globe.
One of the biggest benefits of pursuing this path is that you’ll build virtual communication skills through your degree program while continuing to enhance in-person communication abilities at work. Whether you’re hosting a group chat with classmates, delivering a video presentation or answering questions during a live lecture session, you’ll become well-versed at various forms of online communication. With companies boosting their international reach and presence, these skills are increasingly sought after by organizations in all industries.
Strategies for Success
Earning a master’s degree while working full time offers numerous benefits, but it also comes with its share of challenges. To remain successful at both, keep the following strategies in mind.
Be upfront with your manager and colleagues about how your degree program will affect your schedule. While you shouldn’t use your classes as an excuse to fall behind on work responsibilities, you might need to explain why you’ll no longer be a regular at after-work happy hours.
Even the best time management skills won’t be helpful if your program schedule conflicts with your work hours. While many online degree programs offer plenty of flexibility, some schools have online programs with rigid schedules. To be safe, make sure you have a full understanding of all scheduling requirements before you enter a program.
Finally, give careful consideration to what kind of program you want to pursue. There are online programs in nearly every conceivable concentration, many of which are offered by top-ranked schools, so there are plenty of options available to you. You’ll enjoy the most success if you select a program that truly interests you and aligns with your career goals.
Yesenia Ye is a research associate at 2U.com. She and her team work to provide aspiring individuals the knowledge they need to choose a master’s degree or life path that is best for them. Yesenia is originally from western New York State, but currently works in New York City. In her free time, she loves to travel, sketch, and do yoga.