career advancement, working student, work-life balance, Working Parent, Working Mum

How to Manage Work, School, and Family as an Adult Learner

By Ducere Global Business School on August, 19 2021
Ducere Global Business School

When we are young, we often imagine a version of ourselves that can have it all. As we get older, however, we start to understand some of our limitations and the amount of work that truly goes into that perfectly balanced life. It is fairly easy for an adult student to shy away from the effort that goes into juggling a professional and personal life alongside an academic career—but the truth is that people do it every day. In this article, we will explore how to communicate with your family in order to ensure that you can find that balance and take active steps towards the future that you want.


Talk with Your Family

Balancing academics, work, and your family is something that requires a lot of support. The best place to start will always be to engage your family directly in order to discuss the upcoming changes. To do this effectively, you will want to be open and honest with them. Allow them to be a part of the process so they understand that the change will influence everyone. 

You can start by explaining what the program is and why you are choosing to enter it. Bring them in and encourage them to be excited with you and for you. The truth is that these changes will mean a lot for the entire family. Tell them how long the program will take and what benefits that you hope to see from it. By removing the mystery from the conversation, you will welcome them into the excitement. Try to explain to them how this will help with your career advancement as a working parent and what it can mean for everyone further down the line.

Explain the Commitment

To help your family adapt to the new commitment, you will need to get on the same page with them about it. Pursuing higher education is a big commitment that will require you to spend less time focusing on other areas. While you will still have time for your family, it is important to have a discussion surrounding the difficulties that might come. 

Explain to your family that there will be times when you need to be left alone to study and work on assignments. Keeping your family in the loop will help them to prepare for it—and this is important for you too! By ensuring that everyone knows about finals week and big commitments of that nature, you can get everyone on board and receive the support you need.

Plan a Celebration

Sometimes the best way to get your family excited is to make a plan to celebrate after you finish what you set out to do. Graduating with a degree is no easy feat, and you will want to celebrate all of your hard work. 

The good news is that you can make the celebration exciting for everyone. It might be beneficial to plan a party or even a big trip if that works for your schedule and budget--particularly if you are graduating from one of Ducere Global Business School’s partner universities abroad! Give your family something to look forward to so they understand just how important your success is for everyone, even if they are too young to understand what the degree itself might mean.

When she graduates with her MBA from Ducere in 2022, Kimberly Arnold-Robinson plans to celebrate by meeting her foreign classmates in person. “I am not sure London will be open, but if so, that means I get to walk in London for graduation. It will be my graduation present to myself,” she says. 

And the best present of all? Her kids will be there too. “Everyone around me is so proud and wants to be there in Wales when I graduate. It warms my heart that I have that support from my kids,” Kimberly says. 

Make a Schedule

As an adult professional raising a family, you have already had to learn the importance of scheduling. Adding academics to your schedule makes it that much more important. All adult students must be masters of the work-life balance. While this can be a difficult routine to get into, with a little time, you’ll find your way.

Working parents have a lot on their plate and it can feel nearly impossible sometimes. Having a clearly developed schedule that you can count on will allow you to ensure that you have time for your work, your family, and your studies as well. 

Defining set hours for studying or school is important, but it shouldn’t only come down to you. Make sure that everyone’s schedules are set in a way that supports each individual goal. You want time for your studies, but you also want to have enough dedicated time for little work-free moments with the family too. Mapping out everything from study periods to lunch breaks can really help you to bring everyone together and make sure that your attention is where it needs to be. Remember, time spent commuting should also be accounted for to avoid problems with scheduling.

“I like to do a flex schedule and start around 7 p.m. I usually take Fridays off for Ducere and get a chunk of time to focus on that. I have been able to then set aside things for my family too,” said Ducere MBA student, Michael Pettyjohn.


Every day, adult students head back into school and seek out career advancement through Ducere’s programs. Studying as an adult learner can be more difficult than walking (or logging) into college straight out of high school, but that doesn’t mean it is impossible. With a little love and support from your family—and some serious scheduling—you will be able to balance work, education and family too.

In need of more tips? Hear from alumna Paige Tracey and learn how she completed her degree while working and raising four children.