If you are reading this, you are probably either trying to figure out how to better your work-school balance, or you are debating whether or not you could handle getting a job while
being a full-time student in school. Last semester during my freshman year, I decided to get a part-time job working as a facility attendant at one of my college's gyms. I definitely learned a lot about time management and organization from having to work and still complete my school obligations. It can be tough at times, but trust me, it can be done! Today, I am going to share some tips with you regarding how to manage college while working in order to help make your life less stressful and more productive!
Use A Planner!
You will hear me say this in every single post I make about scheduling and staying organized because it is so important. Use a planner! Planners help you remember all the commitments you have in a week so you don't miss anything. I used a hybrid of Google Calendar and my physical planner to keep track of my assignments, classes, and work shifts. Find what type of planner (or planner combination) works best for you! In keeping a planner, you are able to see what days might be your busiest in terms of homework and going to work, and plan ahead for them. It also prevents you from accidentally missing a work shift because you got so caught up in homework or personal things. Additionally, if you job happens to be one where you choose your shifts each week, having a planner to reference will let you know what are good and bad days to schedule yourself (in terms of looking at class loads and exams and such).
Set aside a dedicated study time each day
A big mistake you can make when working during college is forgetting to set aside time to study and do your homework. You're probably working to help pay for college, but you don't want to fail the classes you are trying to pay off! I ensured that I had at least a dedicated 2.5 hour time block each day (in the morning or evening) dedicated to just doing homework or studying. In doing this you are ensuring that your classwork is also a priority alongside working as well.
Have an open discussion with your manager about scheduling
One of the very first things I did when I met with my manager was discuss flexibility with hiring. I told him my class schedule and we worked out days that worked best for my class load. If you job is trying to have you work 8 hour+ work days every day of the week when you have classes, it probably isn't the best idea. Don't be afraid to talk with your manager or scheduling lead about flexibility and catering to busy college students. Many companies will understand and work with you if you communicate this to them.
At First, try to not work the max amount of hours available
Going off of talking about scheduling, when you first start working, do not accept the max number of hours possible, if able. You will want time to adjust to having to work on top of completing school work, and you don't want to be in a position of where you are constantly stressed out because you work too much and don't have time to relax! Once you get more comfortable with working while being in school, you can always go talk to your manager about adding more hours to your schedule. This semester, I only worked about 10 hours a week, but next semester, I plan to work at least 15 a week. I'm doing this because I am more comfortable with having to work while having school commitments. It may seem tempting to take all the hours you can in order to make more money, but don't forget you are a student first.
Don't forget to consider how much time your extracurriculars take
I had some form of a presidential role in each of the clubs I was involved in while I was working, so I had to factor in time for club meetings, office hours, and other duties relating to my positions. Working is important, but you also want to stay involved on campus to help build that strong resume and to gain experience as well. Don't forget to save a time slot in your planner for these clubs and activities.
I hope these tips and scheduling suggestions will help you better balance working and college. We're all struggling college students trying to pay for college while still being enrolled in college, so don't worry, you aren't alone! The biggest part to handling a job in college is just being honest with yourself regarding how much time you need to fully prepare for classes and for studying, and not being afraid to maybe back down on hours so you can really focus on school if needed. Let me know any tips you may have for handling the work-school lifestyle. I'd love to hear them!