The Challenge of Balancing Online Classes With Work – U.S. News & World Report (blog)

Unable to study at work, I do my homework on the weekends or at night.

Unable to study at work, I do my homework on the weekends or at night.

Doing your homework is never fun, even when you have endless time to do it.

Add a 9-to-5 job to the mix, and the fun level plummets even further.

Who wants to work all day, come home, head to the gym, make dinner and then do problem sets for two hours – particularly if you could be Internet shopping or watching “Project Runway?”

As for my classmates with kids, I don’t know how they juggle it all. I can hardly carve out the time to spend five minutes playing with my cat.

[Explore time management tips for online students.]

I’m lucky that when I started this endeavor, my bosses said it would be fine for me to do my homework in the office. But as it turns out, that’s a little harder than it sounds.

First of all, I feel guilty. It doesn’t seem right to open my textbook – even at my desk over lunch – when all of my colleagues are buzzing around, consumed with meetings and phone calls and other aspects of actual work.

Secondly, I get too distracted. When my own phone rings, I feel like I need to answer it. And then there is the Internet, beckoning me to lose myself, and all sense of time, down the rabbit hole that is Facebook.

I’ve been trying to sneak my studying in on the weekend, on planes and trains, and in bed before I go to sleep. As you might imagine, the latter option is the least successful. Next time I need NyQuil, I’ll read about the alternative minimum tax instead.

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That said, something I’m doing must be working, because I got a 90 percent on my Chapter 2 practice quiz – a significant improvement over my previous performance.

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I also received good news from my professor in response to my discussion board question: It turns out I don’t need to write down everything I spend. Instead, I can turn to my bank statements, which I’ve become very familiar with these last few days.

As part of my recommended homework for Chapter 2, I created a personal balance sheet and a personal income statement, meant to show someone’s net worth and cash flow over a certain period, respectively.

It wasn’t pretty – apparently I can fly to London with as much as I spend on food and drinks in a month – but at least I have a better idea of my true expenses and what I need to save.

Late last night, I made a dent in Chapter 3, which focuses on taxes. I have an extra incentive to finish my homework in this case: My taxes are due in about two weeks, since I filed for an extension.

As a professional woman taking control of her finances, I’ve decided to tackle them on my own for the first time.

It’s an intimidating process, but I learned a little secret from my textbook that has alleviated some anxiety: Less than 1 percent of all tax filers get audited each year.

That means 1.5 million or so people actually do get contacted by the IRS. Here’s hoping I’m not one of them.

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