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September 30, 2008


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Sacrifices: difficult to have the 'typical' college experience, decrease in time for socializing and less time for extracurricular activities.

Benefits: money for school! and a great group of people who I worked with.

The hardest part is juggling your school schedule with your work schedule. Make sure that your class times do not conflict with your work schedule.

9 FREE HOURS! That is awesome.

Give it a shot for a semester. If it works, it works. If not, then no bid deal.

I think it can be difficult to balance both school and work but will payoff in the long-run. I took my first full-time job while pursuing my MBA full time (3 classes a semester). While it was difficult to manage all the various assignments in and out of the classroom, it made me a better manager in terms of scheduling, production, and efficiency and made the information learned in class more applicable to everyday worklife. I was able to save more spending money and actually live like a professional, rather than a college student (which I had grown accustomed to). Good luck with your endeavor.

Aside from a part-time job here and there I never worked much during undergrad. But, like Dennis, I'm now taking 9 credits a semester for an MBA and it is quite challenging. I've gone from working 8 hours a day and weekends free to "at work" work for 8 hours a day five days a week and school work for 3-4 hours a night (and many days during lunch) and 8 hours of class on Saturday.

I just keep telling myself all this work and all of these hours will pay off big time down the road. That's about all that is keeping me sane for now. That and Starbucks!

But I agree, give it a shot and see what happens. Free education doesn't show its face very often so you should take advantage of it.

A full time job and college classes can eat up all your time.

For 1-2 quarters in college I worked 2 part time jobs for over 30 hours, commuted 1.5 hours round trip and carried a full load of classes. I was busy from 7am to 9pm on weekdays with classes, work, eating and driving. Then I spent half my weekend doing homework. It was very difficult and I had virtually no free time but I could manage it all right and still keep the grades up fine.

Since you're single with no kids then you can probably swing taking 1-2 classes.

I'd might try signing up for 1 class and see how you can manage. If one class is easy enough to handle then you could try 2 classes the next quarter/semester.

You can make things easier if scheduling will work for you. Since you have a rotating schedule though it might be harder to schedule classes that will fit in. Do your best to setup a class that would be either right before or after your regular work time. Or look for something thats 1 day a week on what would be a non-work day.


First and foremost, make sure the classes you're taking are going to be something you're interested in and will help you with your career. If there's not a lot of focus, the schedule gets really tedious and frustrating after a while. If you know what you're getting out of it (a masters in some specific field you're interested in), then it can be ok. Also, if it's something you can do over a year or year and a half, you'll like it more since the end is in site.

I've been working full-time and taking two night classes for 2 years to get my Masters. You miss the college life, but free tuition is well worth it if you get it. But expect your weekends and free-time to be minimal, since you always have assignments and work that needs to get done.

Does this fit in with your goals or is the 9 hours of college credit a freebie? What type of work and pay are you doing now?

That is, are you specifically looking at this job as a stepping stone - earning a college degree and parlaying that into something else?

It sounds like a rough schedule to me, but if you can schedule the classes and class work on your off days it should be doable, especially since you are single.

The schedule is rough and does take some adjusting. The job that I am at now is directly in the field I majored in (Network Security) which is the only reason I signed up for this schedule. It is also shift work, but 5 on 5 off, 2 on 2 off. So 60 hours one week, and 24 the following...and it is on a rotating basis every 4 months to switch from night to days. I work 7 to 7. After making the adjustment to the schedule depending on which shift you work, you start to get used to it. I'm actually thinking about going back to school soon after I get a few certifications under my belt. ( I have a g/f but no kids)

It takes dedication...but I'm sure you can hack it!

I did it before, I worked full time for a university and took classes

No regrets, did not sacrifice anything

I have been working full time (40 hours a week) and going to school full time (3x 3-credit classes per semester) for the past two years... it is extremely time-consuming and has been really stressful for me. It is even more stressful right now because, as I'm in the home stretch to get my master's degree, I am now fulfilling my internship requirement. My internship is two full days a week from now until May, so I've had to drop to part-time at work. So I'm working 3 days a week, interning 2 days a week, and still going to class at night. I'm so stressed out and tired, but I know it's going to be worth it when I graduate. I am studying to be a therapist, and I wouldn't be able to practice unless I have a master's degree and a license. I'll just keep pushing on through it til May!

I think it really all depends on how much you can take on, and how long you want to take to get your degree. Taking classes part time wouldn't be too bad. I'm a crazy person who wanted to power through my program at a faster rate than most people, so this is my own fault.

I worked full time while attending undergrad and managed just fine. I really had no free time. I was working 35 hours / week and taking 18 - 21 hours / semester. Grad school was a different beast cause I was able to attend on a full scholarship.

If someone is giving you a college education, take full advantage of it. Time travels extremely fast and you'll have your degree before no time.

Best of luck!

It depends on your goal. You could take up to 9 hours of hobby classes, such as a new foreign language or an art course, or you could (slowly) work towards a degree. Obviously, some courses are tougher than others. Some may require little to no preparation, whereas others (organic chemistry comes to mind) took me 20 hours a week to prepare for a 3 hr course.

I did it throughout undergrad majoring in CS and I don't think I'm particularly ambitious. I got up around 8:00 AM and went to school, went to work at 4:00 and worked straight until midnight. My job was relatively easy with a little time to do homework some days. Then went home and slept. There were usually some breaks in the middle of the day that I could use to do homework, and of course weekends. I also ran cross country and track in college. I had to train on my own because I worked when the rest of the team worked out. This was tough, but I don't think I could have handled the load without the aerobic stress release. And the times I did get to practice with the team gave me some social interaction.

I took anywhere from 9-15 credits and it ended up taking me an extra year because I had to retake a couple of classes. My GPA definitely suffered. I also completely gave up TV and video games which was a big deal for me back then. In hindsight, it was probably the biggest benefit of the whole situation.

I've been graduated for 5 years and now I'm thinking about going back for an MBA. I'm hoping my extra work experience will make up for my GPA (under 3.0). I can't imagine taking a full load now that I have a family. If you're going to do it, now is the time.

I went school doing 18 credit hours, plus worked 2 part time jobs which added up to more than a full time job. It was very tough. I couldn't go out with my friends, and often when I came home at 2 AM, my 8AM class would get sacrificed. My boyfriend always got annoyed when on my rare nights off, I just wanted to stay home and do absolutely nothing.

My grades also suffered. I was too ambitious in my course of study, and I just didn't have the time necessary to dedicate to my homework. Teach me to take Chinese, Advanced Inorganic Chemistry, AND English Senior Seminar in the same semester.

I STILL graduated 60K in debt!

Still, I wouldn't trade the experience. The most important thing I learned was time management. I would even get up an extra half hour early to make sure I had some peaceful, quiet time just to myself. That, I think, is what kept me sane through the 4 years!

I worked part-time while getting my AA as a "traditional student", then worked full-time while getting my BA and going to night classes. Near the end of my BA, I was doing a combination of night classes and online courses because having to go to class eats up so much time.

I took breaks in between each degree (about 2 years each time), and now I'm working full-time and just started my MBA. I'm doing online courses though because I like being able to work things at my own pace.

I think "sacrifice" depends on how you see things. If you take classes that enhance your career or help you get the type of job you want, then I don't think it's necessarily sacrifice. It just depends on what YOU think is important to you.

it's all about time management. I worked nearly full time and took between 30-33 credit hours per semester as undergrad. i worked full time during grad school, too. 9 credit hours is nothing and leaves you plenty of time to work full time, study, and have a social life.

Go for it! That is money in the bank (especially if you had to take loans otherwise). Below is my experience.

*Freshman & Sophomore years I went full time and did not work. Struggled immensely.
*Started working part-time, focused better on grades.
*Finished up wile working a 20 hr regular job, 3 part-time jobs, and volunteering one afternoon a week for the Red Cross.
*I found the "college social scene" to be over rated. I had friends and a social life, but school was central. My friends understood and supported me.
*What helped me most was the advice that it was more important to complete the requirements for my degree than to get bogged down in GPA

*Carried 6 hours while married (stay-at-home mom) with 2 children (one who is autistic).
*Graduated on time with a 3.9 average
*Sacrifices? Yes. Was it really a big deal? No.

Most white collar jobs end up working almost 7am-6pm 5 days a week, so if you work days you actually aren't that bad off, since you get 1-2 days off per week (unless it's a lot of physical work, and I don't know how working nights will mess with your sleep schedule). I would try it with 1 class and see how it works out. You will probably find that it's not that big a deal. If you like the job and see yourself working there awhile, I would take whatever classes interest you. If it is a stepping stone, then try to work toward a degree. Take into consideration the difficulty of the classes. You might want to take Calculus as the only class a semester, but humanities you can take 2-3. Also, I don't know what kind of night job there is at a college other than security. You might be able to do some studying on shift if that's allowed. Also take into consideration the other benefits of working at a college. If you get a student ID, do you have access to the fitness center, discounts, season football tickets :), etc?

As others have said, whether this would work for you depends on your goals. 9 credit hours per year is three classes - something that a non-university employer might offer by way of tuition reimbursement, and also something you might be able to swing on your own with a different job. I'm curious why they don't include distance classes, which would be perfect for a full time employee on a shift schedule.

I work at a two-year college and have completed both a bachelors degree and a masters degree while employed here full time. I took online courses for both, one class at a time. We get some tuition reimbursement, but it didn't quite cover all my costs for a year (books can be an expensive part of the equation). I already had an AA, but the bachelors still took me 5 years to get through. The masters took 2.5, but I was really motivated to get it done and graduate school has less courses involved.

Working full-time and being in school is an exercise in organization and motivation. You will always be doing something - vacations and weekends are never truly downtime; there are papers to write, books to read, schedules to keep. It can really wear on you sometimes and you have to be able to look to the future when it'll all be over and you'll have your degree. I'm not discouraging you - I'm very glad that I have my degrees because it offers me flexibility for the future and the sense of accomplishment is wonderful, but the road at times seemed very long.


You mean to tell me you worked 40 hours a week and took 10 classes per semester? First of all, I'm assuming you mean 30-33 credits per year, not semester. Secondly, if you meant to say per semester, you are lying.

I can definitely relate to this scenario!

Back in the 1980s, I lived at home and got my associates degree. I had a pretty decent job as a 3rd shift computer operator but wanted more.

I moved to attend a university. My savings lasted about 2 semesters. (It would've lasted longer but I blew a lot of it.) I got another job as a 3rd shift operator.

My interest in education waned and I dropped out of school. I also got a better job that offered to pay a good chunk of my tuition and books. I just wasn't interested though.

In the late 80s, I got born again. Wonderful experience I recommend to EVERYONE. Shortly thereafter I had a burning desire to finish my degree. I knuckled down and took a full-time courseload in addition to my full-time job. I prayed "Lord, I want the fastest route to a degree." My heaviest semester was 18 hours. In a year's time, I got my BS. I also got a promotion with a 20% pay raise.

One thing I can tell you is that I would not have been able to pull off that degree had I been married. You've got to budget your time very carefully. Getting adequate sleep was difficult. (Sometimes between classes, I would catch a nap at the library. I had an alarm watch that would wake me up before class started.)

Later, I got married. I went to night school and got an MBA. Again, I had to budget my time very carefully especially since this degree had more group projects.

My wife was very supportive but she definitely made sacrifices as well. (She was happier than I was when I graduated!)

This degree also resulted in a bit more than a 20% raise.

These educational experiences are exhausting. It would be very easy to burn out. However, I am still reaping the benefits of this sacrifice. I have a better job and lifestyle as a result.

Your Faith can see you through to a rewarding end!

I work as a paramedic on the graveyard shift (10pm-6am). Occasionally I also teach on a per diem basis. I am married with one child at home.
I completed my Bachelors totally online, one class at a time. I opted to continue for my Masters using a mixture of mostly traditional and online instruction, which I am in the process of completing now. I am currently taking 3 classes per semester (2 traditional classes, one online).
I agree with most of the previous posts that time management is essential when working full time while going to school, especially with online classes since most of the instruction falls on you to do (the teachers are there only to facilitate your learning). While the experience does get tiresome at times, I would not trade it in for the world. The benefits of continued education far outweigh any inconvenience and sacrifices it may cause while pursuing it. The way our economy and society is going, it is essential for everyone to keep learning and growing, not only to keep yourself marketable but to also keep your mind sharp.
You get up to 9 credits per year - USE THEM! Any educational reimbursement is a big plus in my book. I had to take out loans for my education which will leave me about $70,000 in the hole. However, I'm not griping about it since I see it as an investment in myself and my family's future.

Here is what I have found as a student studying at a four-year university and working, if I want to maintain A's and B's. I can comfortably work four hours a day taking six credit hours. If I don't work, I can take up to nine credit hours, but I'm working very hard to keep up with the volume of work assigned, class projects, and exam prep...that's if I want A's and B's. The rule of thumb is, the more you work OR the more classes you take, the more your study time will be affected, thus affecting your ability to retain material and do well. If this is your first time at college, try one class to get started. Make sure you have an advisor, who will become invaluable as time goes on. Then, if you and your advisor feel two classes will fit with your work schedule, go ahead with that. Also, since this is a position at a college, if your supervisor is aware you are taking classes, I have known students allowed a small percentage of study time while on the job. Depending on the degree you are interested in, this defines the difficulty of coursework as well. For instance, I am studying for finance, so for now, not working and taking nine credit hours per semester works out well. One final thought...I heard a student the other day say, "I got a D on my exam, but it doesn't matter because employers don't look at your GPA." Oh yes they do!! So, give yourself adequate study time. I think you're in a great position to do very well, and I wish you the best in your college endeavors!

If you're ONLY taking the job because of the educational perk, it may not be worth it. Even without taking classes, your schedule will be incredibly stressful. You'll be working nights, but not often enough to get used to it. And because your work schedule is so irregular, it may be hard to schedule classes that won't interfere with your work.

However it can be done, especially since you're single with no kids. Since it's a "major university" there are likely a LOT of classes and class times to choose from.

However if there is a particular degree or major you want to get, this may be a tough way to go about it even if it is free. Most degree programs require 120 hours of class to complete (8 semesters at 15 hours a semester). With only 9 free hours a year, it'll take you over 13 years to get a degree if you're starting from zero.

To the statement about employers looking at your GPA... Maybe for your first job it could make a difference, but if you are working full time while you're going to school, you are already gaining work experience so GPA probably isn't as important. I've even heard an employer say that they prefer C-students with practical experience and common sense than an A-student who spent all their time in school. Also, if you have to explain a mediocre GPA, you've got a great excuse. In fact, you can play that card in both directions. Teachers, in my experience, went easier on me when they knew I was spending so much time working.

In my opinion, you should push your limits at this time in your life. You can always pull back a little and readjust if you have to. I don't think anyone can knock you for trying too hard.

Lisa has painted a much bleaker picture than is accurate. She said she can barely handle 9 credit hours without working? Well, a typical full time student has about 15 credits and if it were really that hard, there would be a lot fewer college students around. Figure each credit is equivalent to 1 hour of class and 1-3 hours of studying outside class. So 3 credits would be ~10 hrs of work (and that's if you study a lot more than average and are taking a difficult class). I found that I could handle 18 credits of engineering classes in about 30 hrs per week. It can't hurt to at least try it because I think it will be a lot easier than you think.

While I can't comment on shift work, I can tell you that I earned a master's degree while working full-time -- and I did half of my coursework as a parent. I took one class per semester; I simply couldn't handle more. It is doable. As others said, you just have to manage your time well. I work at a university and strongly advise taking advantage of the free classes if you can; they are a great benefit.

Another side to the discussion about employers looking at your GPA, related to taking classes as part of a work benefit program: at my job (where they reimburse a certain amount for education every fiscal year) you fill out a form pre-semester telling them that you're taking X number of courses at X estimated total amount. Then at the end of the semester you have to turn in a copy of your transcript that contains your final grade - if you didn't get a C or better they will not reimburse you.

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