Balancing Work and Online
High School Courses –
A Guide for Working Students

See also: Study Skills

The decision to go back to school to upgrade your skills while still working is a difficult one, but sacrificing in the short term for your future success is a wise and commendable decision. Luckily, you can now access accredited high school courses online. Taking an online class allows you to set your own schedule as lessons and materials are available 24/7, wherever there's internet availability.

So, all you need now is a guide and a game plan – like the ones below – to help ensure your success.

Before diving into the practical strategies of balancing work and online courses, however, take a step back and assess where you're currently at. Understanding your unique circumstances will help you tailor your approach to achieving a balance that works for you.

Sloughed man looking at laptop.

Here's a quick checklist of time considerations you must factor in to help you assess your availability accurately – crucial for developing an effective time management strategy:

  • Work Commitments

    Begin by evaluating the number of hours you must work each week and any flexibility you might have at your job. Remember to note any changes in your work schedule, such as busy seasons or irregular shifts.

  • Online Class Schedule

    Review your online high school coursework schedule, such as the accredited high school courses online at Ontario eSecondary School. Pay attention to deadlines and any live sessions that require your attendance. Identify subjects or assignments that will demand more time and effort.

  • Personal/Family Obligations

    Do you pick up the kids from school or soccer practice every week? Recognize any personal obligations and responsibilities outside of work and school, like family commitments or household projects. Don't forget to add time for any extracurricular activities or hobbies that are important to you.

  • Time Available

    Don't forget to include time for sleep! Also remember to include commuting/travelling and give yourself some downtime in your calculations.

  • Managing Stress Levels & Time Constraints

    Be mindful of your stress levels and overall well-being. Are you feeling overwhelmed or stressed due to your current workload? Look for common warning signs like trouble sleeping or irritability.

    If you start feeling overwhelmed, prioritize your short-term and long-term goals. What are you hoping to achieve through your job and online high school education? Prioritize your time to determine where you should focus your energy.

    Also, identify the people in your life and available resources that can provide support when needed. This can include family members, friends, coworkers, and both federal and provincial programs that provide financial support.

    Once you have thoroughly assessed your current standing, you'll have a clearer picture of the challenges and opportunities ahead. This availability exercise will guide you in making informed decisions about how to balance work and school effectively. Keep in mind that your situation may evolve over time, so it's essential to revisit this assessment periodically and adjust your strategies accordingly.

Time Management Strategies

Balancing work and online high school courses, or pretty much life in general, requires effective time management strategies to make the most of your available hours. Here are the most common time-management techniques:

  1. Create a Weekly Schedule. Begin by crafting a detailed weekly schedule that includes all your commitments, such as work hours, class times, and other responsibilities. Use digital tools, planners, or calendars to keep track.

  2. Set Clear Priorities. Identify your most critical tasks and assignments for both work and school. Prioritize these tasks based on deadlines and importance, ensuring you tackle them first.

  3. Time Blocking. Implement the time-blocking technique by allocating specific blocks of time for different activities. For instance, reserve dedicated blocks for studying, work shifts, and personal time.

  4. Use Technology Wisely. Leverage tools like task management apps and digital calendars to stay organized. Set reminders for important deadlines and appointments.

  5. Eliminate Distractions. Create a designated workspace that is free from interruptions, silence unnecessary notifications, and stay focused on your tasks.

  6. Break Tasks into Smaller Steps. Divide large projects or assignments into smaller, manageable tasks. This makes them less overwhelming and allows you to make steady progress.

  7. Set Realistic Goals. Be honest with yourself about what you can achieve within the time available. Avoid overloading or filling up your schedule, as it often leads to stress and burnout.

  8. Time Audit. Conduct periodic time audits to assess how you are spending your time. Identify areas where you can save time or improve efficiency.

  9. Flexibility and Adaptability. Recognize that unexpected events may arise in both work and school. Build flexibility into your schedule to accommodate these surprises.

  10. Delegate and Seek Help. If possible, delegate tasks at work or seek assistance from teachers or classmates when you're overwhelmed and don't hesitate or feel embarrassed to ask for help when needed.

  11. Self-Care. Allocate time for self-care activities, including exercise, relaxation, and leisure. Taking care of your physical and mental well-being is crucial for maintaining productivity.

  12. Review and Adjust. Regularly review your time management strategies to assess their effectiveness. Be willing to adjust and fine-tune your approach as you gain experience.

Remember that mastering time management is a transferrable skill that can benefit you for years to come.

Effective Study and Learning Techniques

Balancing work and study/coursework is just the first step. Academic success for working students requires not only effective time management but also efficient study and learning techniques. Here are some of the most proven strategies to help you make the most of your study sessions:

  1. Find Your Optimal Study Times. Identify the times of day when you are most alert and focused. Schedule your most challenging study sessions during these peak hours.

  2. Minimize Distractions. Create a distraction-free study environment. Silence your phone, close unnecessary browser tabs, and let your family or roommates know when you need quiet time.

  3. Active Learning. Engage with your course materials, take notes, ask questions, and participate in online discussions to test your understanding of the material.

  4. Breaks and Pomodoro Technique. Take short breaks during study sessions to avoid burnout. The Pomodoro Technique, which involves 25-minute focused work sessions followed by a 5-minute break, can be particularly effective.

  5. Utilize Online Resources. Make the most of the online resources provided by your online school, such as video lectures, digital textbooks, and discussion forums. These tools can complement your learning.

  6. Stay Organized. Keep all your course materials, assignments, and study notes organized using folders, digital tools, or notebooks to manage your notes, assignments and study guides.

  7. Practice Time Management. Apply your time management skills to your study sessions as well. Set specific goals for each study session and allocate time to different topics or assignments.

  8. Use Study Aids. Explore aids like flashcards, mind maps, and online quizzes to reinforce your learning and test yourself.

  9. Seek Help When Needed. Don't hesitate to reach out to your teachers or instructors if you have questions, need clarification, or need accommodation.

If you're honest with yourself, adhere to these guidelines, and aren't shy to ask for help when you need it, you'll be well on your way to a brighter future!

About the Author

Rob is an avid blogger and digital marketing enthusiast with years of experience creating content for businesses and brands. His work has been published in major publications and blogs across North America, covering a variety of niches from tech to real estate. Music producer, amateur photographer and fan of all things technology and gadgets.