This post was written by Nicole Wallace, a recipient of the CUNY School of Professional Studies ACE Scholarship.

Let’s face it. You’ve probably been told you were crazy for doing something at least once in your life. Maybe on more than one occasion.

My wake-up call came in a job I have been at for 5 years in the mental health field. I was coming home, more often than not, in tears or increasingly bad moods that, sad to say, my family was feeling. Finally someone sat me down and asked me why. Why I was putting up with the treatment I was receiving from the owners of the company—why didn’t I go somewhere else? (Yeah, that was the crazy part.)

And honestly, I didn’t have an answer. Why was I subjecting myself to the treatment—the harassment, the name calling, the derogatory remarks, the blame game—and all from the owners of the company that I had given my blood, sweat and tears to for the past 5 years? (Yes, literally, blood and sweat, and more often than not tears.)

It started with school. CUNY SPS gave me the motivation to push for something more. So I started on my Bachelor’s journey and in the meantime, I started a second job—working at both places and staying a full time student. Let’s be honest, I didn’t want to jump ship and find myself drowning in another position like I was currently in.

This arrangement, however, came with some serious work to be done. I’ve picked up a few tricks to balancing two full time work schedules and full time class loads, and maintaining some semblance of sanity: (And this is where I was called crazy, for the second time.)

  1. Get yourself a planner. Believe me, this has saved me so many times. What works best for me is a weekly/monthly planner. I can track dates on the monthly view (such as starting and end dates for each week, because honestly, why would any of your classes ever consider using the same time schedule?). The weekly view lets me write out my assignment information
  2. Color coding can be your best friend. Each class gets its own binder and notebook in matching colors. I use the same color pen in the planner to keep everything in line. This way, I can glance at anything and know which class it is for. Also, it has drastically cut down on grabbing the wrong binder for a particular class. So not cool.
  3. Plan your time. Keep track of everything—your due dates as well as other commitments. Nothing like waiting until the last minute to write that essay because you forgot that it’s your sister’s-best-friend’s-cousin-twice-removed’s birthday party and you were away all weekend.
  4. And probably most importantly, schedule time for YOU. You’re no use to anyone if you’re holed up in your room for weeks on end with people are scared to come to your door (for fear of having something thrown at them because you’re trying to focus on your paper). Not that I have any personal experience with this one. At all.
  5. Enjoy the process. School, albeit with CUNY SPS online being completely different from traditional classrooms, is a process. You’ll meet people who are going through the same things you are, and working through the same material. Breathe. And known that your fellow students are probably pulling their hair out as much as you are.

Also, you should really get one of those countdown calendars. Ripping a day off those things is strangely therapeutic when your eye deep in textbook readings and calculations. Seriously. Try it.

Nicole Wallace is a recipient of the CUNY SPS ACE Scholarship, a scholarship program designed to support high-achieving undergraduate students Achieve College Education (ACE). She will graduate from the Psychology degree program in June 2016.

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