Top Five Tips for Online Learners with a Full-Time Job

Nursing student with shoulder bag walking to class

“I want to go back to school, but I just don’t have the time.”

We’ve heard it before, and it’s a valid concern. While online education makes fitting classes into your busy schedule a lot easier, any program is going to require time and attention. This can be a challenge, especially for students who have and plan to keep their full-time jobs.

But it can be done, and has been by thousands of ODUGlobal graduates!

Check out these top tips for online student success while managing a full-time job.

Find out if your company will help.

You may have heard about tuition reimbursement programs in your first week of work, but have since forgotten. Or, perhaps your company has added employee benefits in the last few years to help employees seeking degrees or certifications. Either way, it doesn’t hurt to ask, especially if the program you’re interested in directly correlates with the position you currently hold.

Schedule a meeting with your supervisor or HR representative to find out if a program is in place and learn the details.

If there is a program in place, be sure to ask about the tuition support terms, what grade point average you’d have to maintain, how time off you may need for exams, residencies, or labs would be handled, and what the process has looked like for other employees. In some cases, you may need pay for the tuition upfront and submit a request for reimbursement from your employer.

Many employers see employees utilizing tuition assistance as a win-win: they can more readily prepare and promote from within, and you’re committed to the company through the duration of your study or terms of the agreement. Even if you suspect that there may not be a program in place, it doesn’t hurt to ask!

Keep your “work space” and “class space” separate if you can.

Many students choose to to stay at their desks during lunch and log in to watch a webinar or work on an assignment. That is a great use of break time at work, but remember that it’s a good idea to keep your work time separate from your class time.

When your break is over, find a stopping point and log out! Not only will this help you keep things separate and organized in your mind and notebooks, but it will ensure there are no potential productivity or resource conflicts from your employer.

Keep your supervisor and coworkers informed.

They probably won’t want to know how each assignment is coming along, but keeping your employer and coworkers in the loop is a smart move for the online student who’s employed full-time.

Don't wait until the last minute to inform your supervisor that you're taking classes. If your boss is not aware of your class commitments, they might ask you to work or stay late on the same day that you have an assignment due or a class meeting to attend. Most employers are happy to work with your schedule limitations due to education if they’re informed. Communication is key!

Apply what you’re learning on the job.

If you can, show the benefit of your online classes in the workplace. Depending on your course of study, your classes may not always directly apply, but proving an immediate benefit to having a student on the team will go a long way with your managers.

Take time for yourself and your family.

When you’re considering starting a degree or certification program while working full time, you probably think you’ll have no downtime. Don’t worry! You will, although it’ll probably be a little less. Enjoy it!

It’s okay to take an evening or weekend for yourself or for time with friends and family. If you have school-age children, join in on homework time! It is important to establish a balance.


You’ve got this! Although nobody would consider it easy to work full time and take college courses, the rewards are great. Remember that ODUGlobal has specialized support for all our students, no matter where they live, what they do for a living, or what they’re studying.

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