Written by Penelope Seagrave, Human Factors M.S. 2019
I work full-time as an Engineer at Cognex and am also a part–time graduate student. This semester, I’m enrolled in two evening classes at Tufts as I work on my masters in Human Factors Engineering. I thoroughly enjoy these courses, and find the assignments interesting and worth the precious time that I forfeit to work on them on Saturdays and Sundays. Occasionally, I may work through lunch on an assignment, but typically I am able to manage by finishing assignments exclusively over the weekend. Weekends are now my productive time. Honestly, it’s encouraged me to be more responsible and disciplined in my life overall. While it does mean that I spend more Friday or Saturday nights at home, I’ve come to realize that having an entire weekend day full of productivity is a truly fulfilling experience, and worth the potential FOMO. Working on a Sunday makes me feel like a responsible adult.
While I could choose to do homework assignments in the evenings during the workweek, I find myself extra inclined towards procrastination after I’ve spent the whole day working already. So, for me, it’s easier to plan to devote a weekend day. During the week, I prepare by reading over the assignments and getting a solid sense of the expectations so I can predict how long I will need to complete it, and then I save the work for the weekend.
There are some projects that are better broken down into steps over the course of many days. This goes for studying too. Especially for design courses that encourage an iterative process, I tend to work on my assignments after work and sometimes during my lunch breaks. This allows me to space the time better and also solicit feedback from my coworkers, which I have found to be an incredibly helpful and unexpected bonus.
So far, I have been able to manage working full time while in graduate school very smoothly. And the best part is that I have an income while in school. If you are considering this option, check to see if your company offers tuition reimbursement. Having money coming in while I’m in school is fabulous. There is no way I could go back to my old college days of ramen noodles.
I will say that the consequences of being a part-time student are felt primarily in the length of time it takes to complete the program. For example, if I were a full-time student, I could have graduated in two semesters. Now I’m completing my fourth semester and looking forward to my final full semester in the fall, with a one-course summer session in between.
But the upside is that I get to be a Tufts student for a longer period of time. I love being a Jumbo! And because I’ve been attending classes here for so long, I feel it has a stronger place in my identity. I am really proud to be studying at Tufts.