Are you thinking about earning a degree to further your career? It's more possible than you might think to balance work, family, and earning college credits.

It's a common misconception that the only chance to go to school is right after high school. And the moment you get your first full-time job, that breaks the momentum of going to college. The reality is that there's no perfect time for going back to school and earning your degree. Many Mississippians with families and jobs go back to school all the time, and you can too.

What many people with partially earned degrees and academic dreams don't realize is that it's not that hard to get back on track to complete a college degree. By taking it slow and setting realistic, linear goals, you really can balance a full-time job and family obligations while earning your degree.

Here are five techniques that have successfully helped others complete their degree without dropping any existing responsibilities.

Technique #1: Take One Class at a Time

The first and best step you can take is realizing that you don't have to commit to a full rack of classes. If you're willing to take some time finishing your degree, take one or two classes at a time. Consider the amount of time it will take to complete a class the same as the amount of time it would take for any new obligation the family takes on. For example, the extra time devoted to schoolwork is no more time-consuming than when your child takes on a new activity, such as sports or clubs. If you can tackle scout meetings, after school sports, or music lessons for your kids, you can make the time for one new class for you. Your family will benefit in the end. And so will you!

Technique #2: Make a Commitment with Your Family

Once you realize that going back to school doesn't have to interfere with work, your next concern is balancing your new academic goals with your family obligations. Many people see this as a conflict of time, but it's about making certain your family doesn't feel that you are neglecting them.

Talk to your spouse and your children as a family. Explain and help them appreciate your academic goals. Make sure they realize how much getting this degree means to you and what it means for them. Ask for their help, support, and understanding during this critical time. Commit to making them proud of the degree you will earn.

Having these conversations will allow your family to feel involved and understand the expectations while you complete your degree.

Technique #3: Schedule Courses for Weekend, Night, or Online Classes

The next step is finding an institution that offers classes when you can schedule the time. Taking one or two classes every weekend is a great way to balance your time while still leaving your weeknights for family time and stress relief.

However, if you want to accelerate your progress or if weeknights work better for you, there are schools that offer online classes or night classes that may be able to fit into your busy schedule. Online classes allow you the flexibility of taking classes at home or with a laptop, anywhere, any time. Night classes can allow you to work during the day and take classes at night.

Technique #4: Do Homework with Your Kids

Now that you're going back to school, you have something unique in common with your children. You both have homework. If you've been wondering when to make time to do your homework, in the evenings with your kids is the perfect time. Sit down at the kitchen table with your textbooks while they sit down with their worksheets. If your children see that you value education, they are more likely to see it as important too.

Technique #5: Don't Neglect Stress Relief

Finally, the biggest challenge of all, don't let yourself get overwhelmed. Taking on a new set of responsibilities that challenge your brain can add a surprising amount of stress. Make a commitment to yourself not to let it get to you, and schedule an absolute time to unwind and relax. This is the right time to establish a weekly movie night with your kids, a date night with your spouse, and an hour every night before you go to bed to take a hot bath or something that really relaxes you.

If you have been dreaming about finishing your degree, that dream is possible. Even if you have a full-time job and a family you are committed to, you can make time for classes, earn credits, and finish your degree. To get started today on becoming one degree better, visit our online application!