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Spotlight on Walden // Aug 13, 2014

The Balancing Act

For many, September signals the return to school for children, but kids aren’t the only ones heading back and hitting the books. Many adults continue their education as a way to refocus their careers, enhance their skills, and increase their earning power. In fact, between 2000 and 2011, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reported that enrollment of students ages 25 years and older rose 41%. From 2011 to 2021, NCES projects an increase of 14% in enrollments of students ages 25 years and older.

However, for working adults, juggling a family and career while pursuing an advanced degree can seem like a daunting task. In the spirit of back-to-school season, Spotlight on Walden shares tips and advice from our students, alumni, and faculty on balancing it all and succeeding.

Prioritize your time. “I had to have very good time-management skills. When I was at work, I was at work; when I was home with my boys, I focused on them. They go to bed at 7:30 p.m., so I could pick up my coursework in the evenings.”

Becky Fleming, a Walden BS in Communication graduate, discusses giving 100% of your focus to your current activity. Read her strategies to successfully balance work, school, and family.

Designate a space to do your coursework and keep it organized. “One of my professors mentioned she had a place at home to complete her work. I immediately did the same thing.” In addition to finding a dedicated space, Darlene Williams also shares how she kept her materials organized to reduce time spent searching for a specific piece of research. “I put my literature into binders ordered by topic,” she explains.

Darlene Williams, a PhD in Public Policy and Administration student, discusses making the most of your time. Read more of Darlene’s insights.

Involve your support network. “It’s important to remember that you are one person, not a village. Communicate your desire to return to school with your friends and family so that they are invested in your success and can support you and lend a hand during your educational journey.”

Dr. Savitri Dixon-Saxon, associate dean for the School of Counseling and the School of Social Work and Human Services, offers single parents a few words of advice about balancing commitments while pursuing a degree online. Read her tips here.

To complete your dissertation, think about your work as part of an international dialogue. “Understand your data in a broader context. Be actively engaged and ask a lot of questions until you get answers. Identify a problem and become an expert.”

Dr. Kristal D. Ayres, a Doctor of Education (EdD) alumna, offers students advice on choosing a doctoral research topic and completing it successfully. Read more of her advice.

For many, online education is a great solution for working adults who are seeking an advanced degree as it offers balance among work, family, and education commitments. Walden offers more than 80 degree programs with more than 370 specializations and concentrations to enable working adults to go back to school while accommodating their busy schedules.

Ask questions on balancing it all and share your tips and tricks at Our Community.