Tips for Earning an EdD While Working Full-Time
You’re already aware of the many benefits in earning a Doctorate of Education (EdD). And, if you’re like many other prospective doctorate students, you may be concerned with whether or not you can actually devote yourself to the program. In particular, you may be asking yourself: “Can I really balance a full-time workload and family life in addition to the program?” It isn’t easy, but it is possible.
So how exactly do you balance it all without burning out? We surveyed doctoral candidates and graduates and found five helpful themes that’ll support your educational goals.
1. Create a schedule that works for you and stick to it
“Working, studying, and trying to keep an active presence with family and friends was a challenge; however, establishing personal deadlines and sticking to them helped me stay afloat with my professional, personal, and academic obligations. Simple to-do lists have been a life hack for me during my doctoral journey.” – Frederic Washington, EdD
“I suggest creating some sort of documentation to keep yourself accountable for the work you need to do. I had a special planner that was for my dissertation work. It was separate from my work calendar. I also planned out a writing schedule for myself. Create a writing schedule that is attainable. Take a weekday off of writing. Your writing will be better for it.” – Tina Lageson, EdD
“I use a life planner and schedule absolutely everything. I also pre-format my assignments during week one, and save them in folders labeled with weeks one–eight for each class. Last class, I got overwhelmed for a couple of weeks, but picked myself back up and finished strong.” – Anna Christine, EdD student
2. Find opportunities to methodically multitask
“I look for ways to leverage overlap. For example, I work in Cube World. So at lunch, I might set up the next two to three days of assignments and either save the work to Google Drive or email myself docs that I’ll be working on later that evening.” – Joe Vrazo, EdD student
3. Take breaks to maintain (or create) balance
“I was a full-time student and a full-time teacher. About six months after I started my doctoral program, I started my business, which is a tutoring company. It was just very hard to try to find that balance…Don’t completely engross yourself in what you’re doing. Even though it was hard for me to pull myself away, I had to do that at times to remain balanced, so that it did not overwhelm and overtake me. Unfortunately, I was not always successful at that because I don’t handle stress well. But I had a lot of support, and [my school] was extremely supportive. They keep their word and they follow through. If you need anything, you can call and they’re right there to help you.” – Makeba Butler, EdD
4. Prioritize self-care and family time
“Self-care is very important. Going through the doctoral program, we had to put up some boundaries. On the weekends, we’re not social butterflies in the community. We’re at home with our kids. Because when I am with our children or my husband, I want to be in that moment. Another thing I like to do is hit our local gym a couple times a week. It’s important to me to be able to work off some stress. I kept that habit through the whole dissertation process.” – Rachael Hoffert, EdD
“The rigor of the online program is the greatest underestimation. It’s a doctoral-level program, and it felt like one. But it was also important to me that while I was studying, I remained an involved dad, had a great relationship with my fiancée, and continued to be a leader in a very demanding job. It was hard to manage all of that without dropping the ball. I sacrificed time at the gym — I used to spend hours, several nights each week, in the gym. But the online environment gave me the ability to find a balance in my life between family, spirituality, and my professional life.” – John Paul Sanchez, EdD
5. Remember that every challenge is an opportunity to grow
“If you’re in your EdD program right now and you’re feeling overwhelmed, I’m here to tell you that the challenge is completely worth it. I felt the exact same way, and not just in the beginning. But, as the program progresses and becomes more challenging and demanding on your time and your mind, it’s amazing to come through that process and watch the growth that takes place personally and professionally. It’s all so worth it.” – Camille Schuler, EdD