Studying on an MBA course can be financially draining. It isn’t like an undergraduate course where Student Finance provides you with maintenance funds that you pay back when you have the money. Unless you are being funded by third party organisations (such as employers or rich relatives) you will have to take out a loan in order to cover the costs of the course. Repayments on postgraduate study loans often have to be made upon completion of your MBA, so many graduates study while working in order to borrow as little as possible.
It is perfectly plausible for students to work while studying, but if you decide to do so, it is vital that you keep your academic and work life in balance. While it is important that you have enough money to live off, it is also important that you don’t allow your working hours to have a negative impact on your studies – particularly as MBA courses can cost up to £10,000 - £15,000.
So how exactly do you find an appropriate balance between your University work and your part-time job?
Once you’ve received your University timetable and you have a rough idea as to how many hours your programme requires of you per week, draw up an academic study timetable that not only outlines which lectures you need to attend and when, but also allows you to allocate time to complete your assignments and revise for any potential exams and tests. Once you have done this, you should be able to visualise how much spare time you will have left, which will provide you with a rough indication of how many hours you will be available to dedicate to any part-time work.
Your MBA is costing you a lot of money and it is an amazing opportunity to enhance your career, so your studies should always be your priority. Hopefully, if you’ve prepared in advance, you should never have too much work to do when your deadline is imminent.
However, if you do find yourself in this position (although you shouldn’t if you’ve followed step 1), your academic work should come first. If you’re supposed to be in work, then ring up a colleague and get them to cover your shift, or simply explain your predicament to your employer. After all, you need to focus on what is important and is it really worth risking the consequences failure will have on your finances and career?
3. Type of Work
Before getting a job, you should carefully consider what type of work it is that will fit around your studies. For the most part, postgraduate students tend to find evening and weekend jobs, in order to keep their weekdays free (should there be any last-minute changes in the University timetable).
Some MBA courses will have fewer compulsory contact hours than others. If this is the case, students may opt to work during the day and keep their evenings free for studying. Similarly, there is also the option for students with previous business experience to find freelance work while completing their course.
It might not sound too important, but being organised is crucial to maintaining a healthy work and study life balance. Little things like ironing your work uniform in advance and making sure you have all of your equipment packed before you spend the day in the library will help make study days more efficient.
5. Switching Off
You can’t function either at work or at University if you don’t eat well and sleep well – it is a scientific fact. If you’re tired and run into the ground, you are much more likely to make daft mistakes when studying or while doing your job that you’ll have to go back and correct at a later date. If you actually eat a healthy diet and get into regular sleeping patterns you’ll avoid making errors, and the time you would have spent correcting them can be put to more productive use.