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Balancing School with Work

Many students work a part-time job while they’re in school. Here’s how.

Balancing School with Work

One of the best things about college is the new freedom that comes with it. You get to pick your classes, hang out with friends, and decide when and how you will study. However, with freedom comes great responsibility. It is up to you to set your schedule, remember deadlines, and communicate with your professors, advisors, family, and friends. We know that no human being can realistically do it all but we have created some steps that will help with finding balance between school and personal life.
1 // Assess and Prioritize
Take time to do a deep assessment of everything that is on your plate and what you would like to accomplish for the semester. Do you want to join organizations or explore a hobby? What are your other responsibilities besides school? Set aside an hour to write them all down in order from most important to least important. This will help you figure out your Must Haves (aka your big rocks) and your Nice-to-Haves (aka your pebbles and sand). Everyone’s priorities are different, so make sure you are intentional about your personal goals and responsibilities, and not pressured by any “perfect college experience.”

2 // To Work or Not to Work
Now that you know what your Must Haves and Nice-to-Haves are, use these priorities to figure out what you need to budget for, in addition to your tuition. You can use this Cost of Living Calculator to calculate the living expenses for one year. This will help you figure out if you need to work, and how much. Look for ways to save money, like asking for student discounts wherever you go, making the most of a campus meal plan if you have one, or buying used textbooks. If you do decide you want to work while in college, ask your campus advisor for information about jobs on campus and how many hours-per-week they recommend given your current class schedule. You can check out our college filter, find the school you are attending (if applicable), and look under “Resources” for how to find a job on your campus. Here are some of the pros and cons of working while in school:

3 // Plan and Organize
One of the most important steps in achieving anything is planning. If you have a clear understanding of your destination and how to get there, the ride is much more comfortable. So buckle up, we’re getting organized! We recommend using an app like Google Calendar or Google Tasks to log your classes, class assignments, work schedule, and extracurricular activities. Don’t forget to schedule in work blocks to complete assignments and study at the library. And sometimes things can get a bit hectic and you can forget to check-in with your community. Set reminders on your phone and computers to connect with friends, family, or anyone important to you.

4 // Communicate
Sometimes school or work may require us to miss out on some things. We may also get overwhelmed with our workload, but don’t want to disappoint others for not showing up. This could be for a friend’s hangout, family back home, or even a class assignment for your professor. But remember those priorities! What if I told you that sometimes just a simple call or email can go a long way in helping relieve this pressure? Talk to your friends and family about your schedule and set clear boundaries around the times they can expect for you to be available. Make sure you communicate your class schedule to your manager at work prior to starting–University jobs already understand that students have to prioritize work. If you do not work on campus, make sure you share your class schedule well in advance. We wouldn’t suggest missing class or assignments but sometimes life gets hard and things happen-instead of just not showing up or not completing your work, send your professor an email briefly stating what is going on-many of them may be understanding and give you an extension or excuse you from class.

5 // Rest and Have Fun
Last, but certainly not least, make time for yourself to get rest and have fun! You are not a robot and college isn’t only a place to go to class and work. It is a time for you to get to know yourself and your interests deeply while connecting with other students! Make sure you give yourself breaks, go out to fun events, and get enough sleep. You can do it!

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"Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today."

– Malcolm X, human rights activist
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