Balancing Work, My Masters Program, and Studying for ASWB Exam

Balancing Work, My Masters Program, and Studying for ASWB Exam

We’re excited to share a blog post from Maeve McMahon, the Agents of Change Community Manager, on her experience balancing work, a Masters program, and studying for her licensing exam.  Take it away Maeve!

I knew when I was signing up to start my Masters program after I accepted a full-time job that I was going to have to make a mindset and lifestyle adjustment to assure I was able to balance both school and work. However, I also knew that earning my Masters degree and license was a goal I was determined to reach. Reflecting back on my time, there are three things I did that I believe were crucial in my success.

These Crucial Factors Were:

  1. Planning my schedule in advance
  2. Prioritizing school work
  3. Breaking up large tasks into smaller tasks. 

Planning My Schedule

The beginning of my Masters program was extremely overwhelming with how many assignments, deadlines, and study sessions I needed to complete to be successful in my classes. My best friend during this time was my planner.

I wrote down every single thing I had to do in this planner, regardless of how small it was, so that I would be able to make sure I was completing all of my assignments on time. This gave me the ability to look at my upcoming week and know that I had a plan for when everything would be getting done. This helped to calm my anxieties about the upcoming week and assured me that even if I was busy, I did have time set aside for each due date coming up.

If you are not organized during this hectic time, it is very easy to fall behind and become overwhelmed with the workload coming your way from multiple different directions. 

Prioritizing School Work

Although this sounds simple, I think the most effective choice I made during this time was prioritizing school and studying. I knew that graduating with my Masters and passing my LSW exam was a goal I was determined to achieve, but I also knew this was a goal that was going to require a lot of time and effort from myself. Unfortunately, just because I had this new goal for myself does not mean that my family and friends had this new goal they needed to prioritize. There were many times when I had planned to study for the morning when a friend would reach out and ask to get breakfast or try to plan something that would be going late the night before my study plans.

The way I handled this challenge was by prioritizing the promise I made to myself to get my homework and studying done before anything else. I was definitely tempted at times to skip my studying for the day and go hang out with friends or scroll on my phone, but making a promise to yourself and following through on this is extremely important during this time.

Work/life balance is important so I made sure I still spent time with friends and did my enjoyable activities, but I was honest with myself about when it was appropriate to do so on my timeline. 

Breaking Up Tasks

My Masters program involved several larger assignments for each class rather than a lot of smaller assignments. This can be extremely overwhelming when you first look at a rubric and see a 15-page paper or a presentation worth 70% of your grade. The best way I found to handle these situations was to take the rubric for the assignment and break it down into smaller parts.

For example, breaking down a large research paper into the actual research, the annotated bibliography, writing the actual paper, and the presentation you will be doing on it in class. This way you can fit these smaller parts of the large assignment into different parts of your week.

It is less daunting to know you will be spending 1 hour after work each day working towards completing an assignment than thinking about having to spend 12 hours on your Saturday to do an entire paper. 

I personally think that working while I was in school was one of the best decisions I made for myself. I was able to apply what I was learning in school to my work and actually practice my social work skills.

Of course, I had some hard days when I felt like the work was never ending and at times, I had high stress levels, but I am so glad I pushed through and got to where I am now.

You are capable of achieving this goal you have set for yourself, you just need to take a deep breath, make a plan, and believe in yourself.

► Learn more about the course here:

About the Instructor, Meagan Mitchell: Meagan is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and has been providing individualized and group test prep for the ASWB for over five years. From all of this experience helping others pass their exams, she created the Agents of Change course to help you prepare for and pass the ASWB exam!

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Disclaimer: This content has been made available for informational and educational purposes only. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical or clinical advice, diagnosis, or treatment


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