This time of year always makes me wistful. Autumn is closing in on the end of the year. Yet autumn also signals new beginnings, new lessons to learn, new people to meet and in the San Francisco area, beautiful blue skies and warm weather! For many it also means back to school.

For some like me, back to school may mean continuing your education at the mid-point of your life. From 2005 to 2009 I went back to school to earn my Master’s Degree and in those four years learned many strategies on how to balance school with work and also keep a happy home life. Given the variety and volume of schools in the Bay Area, San Francisco State University, University of San Francisco, UC Berkeley, Golden Gate University and more, you may be enrolled in either a graduate program or recontinuing your undergraduate degree.

Tips you might find useful:

School Friends

  • Make friends quickly at school with other students to enable you to form study groups for later in the semester when large projects or exams require group-work.
  • Consider that school friends may become future collaborators in your chosen career field. The learning at school can continue long after the last class is completed.


  • Identify at least one (and maybe more) designated time(s) each week that everyone in the family knows is study time. For me that time was 11am-5pm on Sundays. I would eat a big breakfast and stop mid-point for a short walk and then get back to it.
  • Identify at least two days during the week when you can study during lunchtime. These days may change, so be modest about making lunch plans except with those who can handle last-minute changes.

Family and Work

  • Post your school hours in a prominent place at home so that members of your family know when you will be gone—this new schedule is an adjustment for everyone, not just you.
  • Carry your cell phone to class and if necessary, check in with the family or co-workers on your break time.
  • Remind your loved ones (who will miss you) why you are going to school. Will it result in a better job, lifestyle, happier attitude? Although not perhaps immediately, your family will ultimately benefit from your education.
  • Remember to thank your family and co-workers for any sacrifices and changes they make to help you along.

And finally, as my husband likes to tell me with everything in life, “Have fun”!

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