work and education

Balancing Work With Further Education

work and education

People are always looking to better themselves through education in the hope that it will lead to job security or better job opportunities. Further education can be personally and professionally very demanding. It is imperative that perspective students understand their own needs, interests and what time they can give to a part time college course in order to maximise the chance of course completion and doing well in exams. To choose the wrong course is to throw away money and waste time.


Colleges have varying options to accommodate the demands of perspective students. Distance learning, Online Courses or Attending Classes are the most viable solutions to completing a course while maintaining a work / life balance. Each option offers advantages and disadvantages:


  • Distance Learning has the advantage of not having regular classes. Courses run by institutions such as Open University (UK based) or Oscail (Irish based) run weekend classes once a month while sending out the necessary relevant learning material and asking the student to submit assignments by pre-set timelines. Unfortunately if student hasn’t the ability to self motivate, or has constant distractions, it is very difficult to successfully complete a course this way.
  • Online Courses do not have any classes at all therefore offering no demand on time for attendance. Online courses offer flexibility on when assignments are done to fit in with a busy schedule. The disadvantages are similar to Distance Learning with the added difficulty of not having the tutors to meet, making it onerous to get feedback on queries or guidance on subject matter.
  • Attending part-time college offers all the advantages of full time college students. There is regular access to lecturers through phone, meetings and e-mail. The opportunity to interact with other students gives the opportunity to learn from others and easy access to libraries enhances the ability to read course material without the cost of downloading or needing to buy literature. In saying that, attending college is very demanding on time. College can consume anything from one to three evenings a week for the duration of the course. Colleges do offer the chance to take a course over a longer period in an attempt to lessen the time pressure on students. Weekend courses are also an option but again do consume a lot of time for attendance.


On deciding which form of further education to follow, getting the work / college / life balance right is critical. In order to achieve the end goal, of a qualification and retaining a job, time should be taken to prepare for a new course. Some tips to assist in the succeeding of all aspects of college are:

  • Organisation: Write down the agenda of what needs to be done weeks and months in advance. The start of a course can creep up quickly so creating a diary around attendance, studying and exams will help create a constructive pattern to help in progressing. Don’t forget to make time for food…….”A healthy body equals a healthy mind”
  • Time Management: Institutions give a timetable (for classes, exams, assignment submissions etc.) in advance of the college year. Ensure to know the timetable to avoid the stress of “last minute cramming”.
  • Prioritise: Once the course has started it is important to understand subjects that cause more “work” than others. Ensure to allocate appropriate resources to each subject allowing for the maximum chance of passing the course.
  • Hard Work: Working a nine-to-five job is tough, add the pressure of college, and time will come where sleep feels like the only option available. Focus, take each day and each study session as it comes. When in class or studying, commit to the task at hand. Take as many notes as possible as writing helps solidify what has been taught. Further education coupled with work is tough. Remain focused on the goal, it is worth it.
  • Make friends: Getting to know others studying the same course will help, it is a great way to see alternative ways of thinking about subjects. Other students are in the same boat so will be willing to help each other and empathise with the situation and challenges at hand. On the times you can’t make class, friends will take notes for you so nothing is missed.
  • Persistence: Attend college. The longer the year goes on the harder it can be to attend. Winter nights, the rain, snow and darkness make everything tough. Persistence in getting to class and doing assignments will stand you in good stead come exam time.

Posted by Peter Nunan, Former Manufacturing and Supply Chain Manager, Sigmar Recruitment on 28 November 2017

Sign up for HR & Recruitment Insights Weekely Email

Get a weekly email filled with content about GDPR, Recruitment, Hiring, Employer Branding and Company Culture direct to your inbox.

Sign up for our Jobseeking Tips & Advice Weekly Email

Get jobhunting tips, productivity hacks and career planning advice direct to your inbox.

Related Content


Five Ways To Impress Your Boss

Five Ways To Impress Your Boss

This may come as a shock, no one expects you to be perfect and know everything, even your boss! Sometimes you may feel like you’re not good enough and worry that you can’t impress your manager, but it is actually easier than you think and you’re probably doing some of these things already… 1. Dress to Impress Make sure your personal hygiene is impeccable. One of the worst office offences is bad body odour. Once you have your personal hygiene in check, dress smart. Dressing well will impress your superiors and your fellow colleagues. It will also give a little extra confidence while you do your day to day tasks. via GIPHY 2. Timekeeping Traffic, public transport, school runs, they can be a nightmare in the mornings and we’ve all been there, but it’s no excuse to be late for work constantly. Want to make a good impression? Be on time! Even if it means you have to leave earlier in the morning. If you want to impress your boss, you have to make real effort and show you are reliable. Bad time-keeping is a pet hate for managers. Remember: When you are late, show you understand that time-keeping and attendance matters and always inform your manager that you’re late. A quick text or phone call can really make all the difference. via GIPHY 3. Socialise If you want to impress at work, get involved in social events with your colleagues. It’s important for managers to see you gel with the rest of the staff and integrate with the culture of the business. If there isn’t a social scene in work why not try to organise something yourself? You could suggest after work drinks, a running club, a book club? Getting involved is impressive to a boss, but if you can organise your own social activity, that will definitely get your managers attention. via GIPHY 4. Share Ideas Don’t be afraid to tell your boss about ideas you have. Managers appreciate someone who takes their own initiative and wants to help improve things. It’s a great way for your boss to know you care about your role and the company and that you want to make it even better by putting your stamp on things. via GIPHY 5. Be Prepared Always be prepared to work. When you come in in the morning be ready to hit the ground running. When you attend meetings have all the relevant information and documents needed. Remember, you’ve been appointed this role and if your boss sees you struggling in it, it’s not going to impress him/her. Always being prepared and showing your boss you can manage your task will impress your boss and even increase your opportunity for a promotion. via GIPHY It’s always good to remember, not everyone is perfect, and your boss doesn’t expect you to be. Trying your best should always be enough to impress your boss. All a boss wants is an employee who’s working hard and is happy in the company and with the work they do.


How to Land that Promotion

How to Land that Promotion

If you have been in a job for some time, you may feel like you are ready to take on more responsibility or feel you deserve an added amount to your salary. The way you can accomplish this is by doing the following: Own Projects from Start To Finish Creating your own project and implanting it from start to finish is a great way to get a promotion. Showing you have the initiative and determination to carry out your own project will give you the opportunity to be given more responsibility. via GIPHY Do Things You Don’t Have to Do Don’t be the person who says “That’s not my job” and refuses to do tasks they are asked outside their job specification. Sometimes in order to get noticed and to get ahead you need to be willing to do jobs you don’t want to do. via GIPHY Be Prepared Always be prepared to work. When you come in in the morning be ready to hit the ground running. When you attend meetings have all the relevant information and documents needed. Remember, a promotion is a company giving you more responsibility. If you’re not handling what you’re doing then how do you expect to be given more? Always being prepared will impress your boss and increase your chances of a promotion. via GIPHY Be Positive Coming into the office every day and complaining about how you don’t want to be in work or giving out about the work you have to do or complaining about your colleagues, will never land you a promotion. If you’re unhappy doing what you do and you complain constantly, your boss isn’t going to feel comfortable giving you a promotion. via GIPHY Avoid Office Gossip You can’t control workplace gossip, but you can control how to react to it. Not getting involved in office gossip and politics will mean you keep your professionalism. Those who take part in gossip can become known as unprofessional, immature and untrustworthy and none of those characteristics will help you get a promotion. Any time someone tries to involve you in drama, simply say you are not interested and leave the conversation. via GIPHY If you feel you're doing all the above and you have mastered your role and feel like you’re ready to take on more responsibility, it may be time to ask for a promotion. Click here for our blog on How to Ask for a Promotion


The Benefits of Using LinkedIn Effectively

The Benefits of Using LinkedIn Effectively

LinkedIn has been around since 2002 and you’d think 16 years is enough time to master something but essentially people are still using LinkedIn wrong or avoid using it because they don’t know how. This blog will give you a guide to LinkedIn and how it can be used effectively to benefit your career. Who Should Use LinkedIn? Some people understand LinkedIn to be an online CV and it should only be used by jobseekers. This isn’t the case. There is a certain audience for LinkedIn and it does include jobseekers but that’s not all. This is who should use LinkedIn: Anyone in a job Anyone looking for a job Students Freelancers Recruiters Someone who has something to contribute about their industry Someone with an interest in connecting with professionals If you’re any of the above, LinkedIn could be the perfect social media platform for you. However, you will need to know how to use it effectively, depending on your reason for using it. Benefits of LinkedIn if you are Employed: Networking LinkedIn has 500 million users from all over the globe in different industries. This gives you the opportunity to connect with so many different people and broaden your professional connections. This could give you new opportunities for you in your current role. Sharing Ideas & Learning New Things In our current day to day tasks we come across many obstacles. LinkedIn can be a great opportunity to share these difficulties and how you overcame them. Chances are if you found it difficult, so did another person. Sharing your experiences on LinkedIn can help other professionals like yourself with issues and vice versa. LinkedIn gives professionals the opportunity to learn and share new things. Motivation Motivated was the most overused word on LinkedIn in 2014 and 2015 and it’s still in the top 10 of most used words in 2018. Motivation can be infectious on LinkedIn. Everyday new posts on new learnings and achievements are illustrated. If you’re looking to boost your creativity or just looking for some inspiration, then LinkedIn’s newsfeed is a great place to start. Benefits of LinkedIn if you are Job Seeking: Showcasing Your Talent and Experience Your profile is essentially an online CV and it can highlight all your relevant experience and skills to potential employers. A lot of job applications and job boards, require a LinkedIn page to submit your details. In order for you highlight your professional resume, it is essential for you to have a LinkedIn account. Reach Out to Employers/Hiring Mangers/Recruiters LinkedIn gives jobs seekers the opportunity to approach hiring managers about available positions. If you’re thinking of applying for a job or you already have applied, why not connect with the hiring manager and introduce yourself? It could be the thing that makes you stand out and be offered a job. Keeping Active During Your Job Search LinkedIn has 3 million active job listings on the platform. Even if you don’t have any interviews lined up, you can stay active by networking on LinkedIn and searching for available jobs. LinkedIn is a great way to stay active in your job hunt. Benefits of LinkedIn if you are a Student: Learn from Professionals in your Industry Following and connecting with professionals who work in the field you are studying in is a great way to learn more about what you are studying and what to expect when you receive your qualification. Build a Network Before you even start your professional career you could already have a bank of professional people in your network, all from LinkedIn. Benefits of LinkedIn if you work Freelance: Showcase your Work You can have an entire online portfolio on your LinkedIn profile that can showcase all your experience. You can share this among your connections who can also do the same. It's a great way to advertise your expertise.