Part I: The Importance of Balance for the Adult Student: a CDL Student Perspective

By Kristen Yard, student, Center for Distance Learning

February 22, 2012

As an adult student who has children and a few serious health issues, I have learned that balance is everything. Still, I am by no means an expert, and I have plenty of days when I want to rip my hair out. In this two-part article I’d like to share some tips that have helped me keep said “hair” in its follicles.

Figure out how to use your time wisely.

I have two children with different schedules. So I structure my work time around when they will be at school/pre-k and sleeping. I try to do my “heavier” reading for school when they will not be home or awake. The lighter stuff I can work on with background noise as they play. At the beginning of every term, I try to note any upcoming holidays or days my children are out of school that I might need to work around. It never hurts to plan ahead. Also, I keep track of any large final projects that I can make easier by beginning to research in the earlier weeks of class when the workload is still light.

Take advantage of lifetime learning credits.

Why not benefit from life experiences, things you have already learned before enrolling at SUNY Empire State College? It reduces your course load and avoids redundancy in your studies. Talk to your mentor to see if this option applies to you and your degree plan.

Know your goals for both the long and short term, and post them in your work space for motivation.

Pictures help. While writing my first manuscript, I dreamed of Johnny Depp playing one of the characters. You better believe he is pinned up on my character board above my desk. How does the saying go? “Shoot for the moon and if you miss, you will still be among the stars.” Even if it never happens, I know I gave myself a fair chance and I still get to have Mr. Depp smiling down on me as I study. Win-win in my book.

Keep schedules and lists.

Post-its are basically my best friend. At the end of each night, before bed, I program my phone with a list of to-dos for the next day, ordered by priority. My schedule is broken down into three groups. “Before school” is when I try to get the cleaning, laundry and light studying done. “During school,” when I have no children in the house, is when I schedule phone calls with professors/mentors and get to my heavy studying or paper writing. “After school” consists of bringing my kids to karate, going to the grocery store and any other errands that need to be done including dinner, which leads to the next tip.

Eating healthy is very important when you are living a fast-paced life.

I share food allergies with my daughter, in addition to other health problems that make clean eating a must for my family. It is time consuming but can be made easier to fit in. Over the weekend, I cook certain meals ahead of time and then freeze them (lasagna is easily whipped together and frozen for example). Crock pots are another good tool to utilize. The least amount of time I can spend in the kitchen is my goal! I try to involve my children in the cooking because it gives me a chance to spend time with them and livens up a boring task.

(Look for part II of Kristen Yard’s article on tips for living a balanced life in an upcoming issue of The Student Connection.)