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How to Build Your Support Network for Continuing Education

Nov 18, 2011 Jennifer Williamson, Distance Columnist | 0 Comments

As an adult learner, you may have an attitude of strength and independence—but most people don’t succeed entirely alone. Studying while working full-time isn’t easy, and you may find yourself feeling overwhelmed and frustrated as you work toward your degree.

When you start feeling this way, a strong support network can make a huge difference. It isn’t easy to know when you need help, and asking for it can take courage—but it’s likely there are more people around you who would be willing to help you than you realize. Here’s a list of ideas for building a strong network of support as you earn your degree.

Your friends and family

In an ideal world, your friends and family are your biggest fans—and your biggest supporters. If you need help in the area of continuing education, ask your friends and family first. Maybe you just need someone to watch the kids for a few hours while you study. Or maybe you need someone to come over and quiz you for that big test, proofread a paper, or help you
brainstorm paper topic ideas. Whatever the issue, the
people who love you and are closest to you will probably
be the first ones to help.


Earning a degree while working full-time isn’t easy. And most people don’t succeed alone.




Your fellow classmates

The other students in your classes are in the same situation you’re in—studying full-time and planning careers similar to the one you want. You can help each other by starting a study group—either online or in person. Offer to help a student with a subject she’s having difficulty in, if she’ll help you with one of your weaker areas of study. Even if you just start tutoring other students in class, you’ll benefit from it. Teaching someone is a great way to improve your own understanding of the subject material—and you’ll be helping someone else, too.

Your teachers

Your professors are there to help you succeed. Professors in on-campus colleges typically have office hours, and you should take advantage of them if you need to. If you’re studying for a degree online, email your professors directly if you have a question or need clarification. Never be afraid to speak up in class or on the message boards if you’re having trouble with a topic. Your professors are there to help you—so get the most you can from their help.

Your boss

You might not think your boss can be helpful in your continuing education—but the opposite is often the case. If you present your new degree as something that will improve your ability to do your job—and make it clear you want to use your new education within the company, not outside it—your boss could become extremely supportive. Enlist your employer’s support and it’s possible you could negotiate better working hours or even get help paying for tuition. But it’s all in the way you sell it—your company has to see a value for itself in your degree, and may ask you to sign a contract stating you’ll stay with them for a certain number of years if you get tuition assistance.

Earning a degree while working full-time isn’t easy. And most people don’t succeed alone. Building a network of supportive and helpful individuals can make a huge difference between success and failure. As you go through your education, keep an eye out for people who can help you, people you can help, and those who take an interest in your career. Ask your family for support—bargain with your kids for some quiet time, or take your best friend out to lunch and let her quiz you. And always seek to build support networks among your fellow students and teachers. If you do, your journey toward a degree will be easier—and more fun.


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