How College Students Can Balance Work and Education

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Being in college & learning how to balance work & education can be difficult, but it's a reality many students face to afford tuition. Here are 7 ways to manage.When students head off to college, they often envision going out with friends every night, going to football games, joining clubs, and going to class.

While this may be the reality for some, many other students add a job to that list to cover the high cost of tuition and their basic necessities.

Although this may be the norm for the majority of college students, it doesn’t mean that their workload gets any smaller.

All too quickly, the reality of trying to balance a job and the demanding schedule that comes with education hits, and many young adults find themselves overwhelmed.

Don’t worry, many people have been in the exact same situation and have figured out how to successfully hold a job and go to school at the same time.

If you’re struggling with balancing work and your education, here are some tips to help you manage the two.

Get a Flexible Job

This might be easier said than done, but if you can find a job that has some flexibility, it will save you when your school life gets crazy.

Do your best to find a position that works around your schedule and possibly gives you ample time to make it to your classes without being in a rush.

One of the best ways to find a flexible job is to look for one on campus. Since most of the workers on campus are in school, your boss will understand if you have to leave for class.

Write Out Your Schedule

In fact, write out two schedules: one weekly and one monthly. Trying to keep track of everything in your head is impossible and will only lead to further stress in your life.

Start with a weekly schedule first. Write out, in different colors, your classes, work schedule, and any extracurricular activities you may have.

It’s helpful to schedule in free time you want as well, whether you’ll spend it going to the grocery store, working out, or watching a movie. As long as everything else is completed, it’s beneficial to schedule in fun activities you can look forward to.

After you’ve completed your weekly schedule, move on to your monthly one. A monthly schedule is key to helping you keep track of busier times in your school schedule so you can plan around your other activities.

Look Ahead

This goes along with creating a monthly schedule. The key to balancing school and work is to plan ahead.

You should receive a syllabus at the beginning of each semester that breaks down your school work. Know going in that any period of time around an exam or project is probably going to be busier and more stressful for you.

That being said, make sure to be aware of these times when planning your work schedule, as you may want to lighten up your hours or take certain days off to accommodate for any extra school work and studying.

Make Your Employer Aware

Most employers, especially those in college towns, will understand your need to be flexible if you’re a student. However, it’s important to make your manager aware of this in your interview or as soon as you receive the job.

They might not be very understanding if you tell them you need flexibility the week of an exam. Furthermore, before officially accepting a position, you may want to discuss your employer’s expectations of you. By learning the time commitment a job takes and knowing all of your duties, you can gauge whether or not the job itself will fit in with your hectic schedule.

If school is your priority and end goal, it may mean finding a job more suitable to your life. Again, while this is easier said than done, it’s imperative to keeping a balanced life. It’s not worth the stress and tension of having to deal with an upset manager if you have to call out.

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Have a Support System

Like any other difficult stage of life, having a support system and people around you who encourage you can help. When times get difficult or stressful, having someone to vent to can make all the difference.

Whether it’s a friend, family member, professor or co-worker, having someone to back you up, listen, and provide comfort or reassurance can mean the difference between pushing through a hard time and giving up.

Consider Online Classes

While traditional college is a wonderful thing, it can be exceptionally difficult when you’re trying to work around a job schedule.

Traditional classes can often be at sporadic and different times of the day that aren’t always accommodating when you’re trying to go to work at a certain time.

Online classes, however, tend to have more flexibility and are usually set up so you can listen to or attend them at your convenience. This can also save you money since online classes tend to be cheaper, which is why many students opt to take their prerequisites online and save their field focused classes for the classroom.

If your college doesn’t offer online classes, a night schedule might be beneficial if you’re working during the day.

Be Wise About Your Schedule

No, your schedule may not always be entirely up to you, but for the most part, you can decide how your schedule is going to look. If you have to work throughout college, be smart about how many classes and hours you decide to take on.

If 15 credit hours with study and work time seems overwhelming, opt for 12 instead. School may take a little longer, but you won’t be stressed and will be able to give 100% to every area of your life.

The same goes for work as well. Don’t take a job that has you working 50 hours a week and gives you no time to study. You have to build your schedule in a way that allows you to get everything done without forcing you to forgo sleep.

Balancing work and education can seem overwhelming when you’re just starting, and although it’s the reality for many college students, it’s hard to know who to go to for advice.

By following a few easy tips and having a solid support system to rely on, you might find that doing both isn’t as hard as you thought.

What are some of your best tips for balancing work and school? Did you work in college? How many classes did you take?