Handling Work, Family AND Graduate School

Now I’m official!

I am honored to be taking the reins at the Partee Elementary school library from fellow former UGA graduate Leanette Spencer as she moves on to open the new Ferguson Elementary library also in Gwinnett County.

As I reflect on the past two years of my amazing UGA graduate program I think I have some unsolicited advice for those of you with full time employment and a family who are thinking of continuing on with more graduate work.

I won’t lie: it’s a challenge.  But there are some things that lessened the load for me.

First of all, I have a great teaching team and they’ve helped me immensely with some of the paperwork associated with my current position.  I’ve also relied on more tried-and-true lessons to cut down on planning time.   Carving out certain times of the week for study is good.  I had a hard time at first because I’d be bringing planning home and trying to read for my degree during short breaks at school.  One of the best suggestions my wife made was to draw a line between them.  Do only school at school and grad school outside of work.  That was a big help.

I found it also helped to work on things little and often.  I stopped trying to find blocks of time to work: I’d read some of this, then write some of that, read a little of this over here, and add a paragraph to that.  By always working on things and not waiting for deadlines–even things not due until the end of the course–I’d actually get more done without many overloads.  Sometimes these overloads are inevitable because of doubling up of course due dates, but generally you can spread things out.  It also obviously helps to have good teammates on group projects!

Family support is a great help.  I personally wouldn’t have gone through with the program without the full endorsement of my wife and daughter.  I also tried not to take advantage of their cooperation.  I would always to have some family time every day and trade off with my partner as much as possible.  If I had a lighter homework weekend I would do as much as I could around the house or with our daughter so that when I would get slammed and have to work all of a weekend my wife didn’t feel overwhelmed.  We also even paid a babysitter a few times when she had something important going on at the same time I had a looming deadline.  It seemed weird at first, to be working in the house and paying someone to play with our child, but it was totally worth it.  Use babysitters and playdates to your advantage!

And definitely put everything on a calendar (preferably posted somewhere visible, like the fridge) so everyone can see when classes are or when you’ll be busy with projects so you can plan ahead for coverage.

It’s tough but, again, it’s been so worth it.

Thank You!

Jim Randolph

Future Librarian of

Partee Elementary, Gwinnett County

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Posted on May 12, 2010, in Ideas, Reflection, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Congratulations, Jim. Juggling all of those pieces certainly is a challenge. Family time is certainly important in my book. I try to be as productive as possible during school hours and when the baby is asleep, but when she’s awake, my focus is on her. Enjoy your new school. Can’t wait to hear about your learning.

  2. Susan Foster

    Jim–
    Congratulations on your new position! And thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on the great juggling act which I am right smack in the middle of! I, too, am married, have two daughters, and I am just finishing my first year as a Media Specialist! I am halfway through my graduate program at UWG. I have definitely encountered some time management struggles. I think your suggestions will help me to manage things a little better in the future. Thanks again, and best wishes! 🙂

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