Saturday, March 3, 2012

Five Strategies to Maintaining School-Life Balance For Network Security Majors

For students interested in careers in network security, going back to school to earn a degree is often necessary. But balancing school, work and family can leave you searching for more hours in the day. Balancing it all can be difficult for some students, especially at first. While you can't actually tack on more hours to the day, here are some strategies you can use to better manage your time when it comes to school:

1. Create a prioritized list - A list gives you a clear road map for your week and ensures you will turn everything in on time. Start each week by looking at all the assigned work for your classes. Write down everything you need to complete and when it is due. Then, prioritize the list based on those due dates and how long it will take.

2. Know when it's good enough - Being on time is often better than being perfect. Don't expend endless energy on making an assignment perfect. Some students spend hours revising and revising and often end up sacrificing time that could be more effectively spent on other projects. Before making a minor change, ask yourself will this significantly improve my work? If the answer is no, then it's time to turn in the assignment.

3. Plan around hectic weeks - Some weeks seem like the perfect storm of activities, your family is coming in to town, you have a major project due at work, and you're packing for your upcoming vacation. Plus, you have homework. If you know you are going to have a lot going on in a short period of time, carve out time early in the week to complete class assignments. Even if you just get most of it done, you'll breathe easier later in the week.

4. Break big projects into small chunks - While going through network security training, you'll sometimes have big projects that span a few weeks or whole semesters that can seem unmanageable. But, putting them off until the last minute can be a recipe for disaster. Instead break the project up into more digestible pieces and set up mini due dates for each chunk. If you do this, you'll avoid a last minute scramble to pull it all together and, likely, turn in a more quality assignment.

5. Lean on your support network - Your friends, family, instructors, and others in your inner circle are your biggest cheerleaders. They want to see you reach your goal of a career in network security, so ask them for help when you need it. Don't stare at your computer screen if you are struggling with a project, email your instructor for help. Or, ask your friends and family for small favors that will help you get your work done. Everyone has needed help in his or her life before and will be happy to pitch in.

There can be a lot of challenges when you're figuring out how to start a career in network security. But, keeping a balance between school, work, and family responsibilities is key. By planning ahead, staying organized and having a strong support team you can stay focused and ease some of your stress.

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